This is a 1978 Monteverdi Safari, it’s a four-wheel drive vehicle you may never have seen before as it was built in Switzerland in limited numbers, and it was one of the most luxurious SUVs of its age.

The Monteverdi Safari was popular among the wealthy and celebrity classes in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, offering Rolls-Royce-like luxury on a capable four-wheel drive platform sourced from the International Scout across the Atlantic in the USA.

Fast Facts – The Monteverdi Safari

  • The Monteverdi Safari was a luxury four-wheel-drive SUV built in Switzerland in the 1970s and 1980s. It was based on the International Harvester Scout chassis but featured a custom Italian-built body by Carrozzeria Fissore with distinctive Monteverdi design cues and an opulently equipped interior offering amenities like automatic transmission, power windows, and air conditioning not found on rivals like the Range Rover.
  • Engine options included a standard 5.2 liter Chrysler V8, with an available larger 7.2 liter Chrysler V8 that could push top speeds over 200 km/h (124 mph). Production numbers were limited to an estimated few hundred units, making it an extremely rare and exclusive vehicle in its day, popular among wealthy Europeans.
  • The specific 1978 Monteverdi Safari being auctioned is finished in silver over a black interior and is powered by a 5.7 liter International Harvester V8 with automatic transmission and selectable 4WD. It has under 20,000 km (12,400 miles) and has been comprehensively serviced by a Monteverdi specialist, with over $16,800 USD spent on recent maintenance.
  • This ultra-low mileage and well-preserved example is being offered at auction by Bonhams with an estimated sale price between $101,000 – $123,000 USD, highlighting the collectibility and value of these rare vintage 4x4s from the Swiss marque Monteverdi.

The Monteverdi Safari

Both the Monteverdi Safari, and the Monteverdi Sahara that would come later, were based on the chassis and running gear of the International Harvester Scout 800. The Swiss company had developed the Safari to enter the then-new world of luxury SUVs which was led by the Range Rover.

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Image DescriptionThe Monteverdi Safari had an imposing presence, it’s larger than the Range Rover which was its primary competitor, and it’s also considerably more powerful.

Monteverdi couldn’t have known it at the time, but over the next few decades this genre would explode in popularity and become worth billions in annual global sales, with manufacturers including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Jaguar, and more all entering the fray with their own models.

The Safari was a comprehensively rebuilt Scout, it had a whole new body designed and built by Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Fissore featuring distinctive Monteverdi design cues, like the quad headlights, a squared off profile with sharp lines, and an opulently equipped interior.

The Monteverdi – Carrozzeria Fissore Connection

Carrozzeria Fissore was founded in 1919 in Savigliano, Italy by brothers Antonio, Bernardo, Giovanni, and Costanzo Fissore. Initially the firm built horse-drawn carriages and carts before diversifying into truck and automobile repair. By 1936 the company was constructing special bodies for automobiles, and by the time WWII broke out the company was building military vehicles.

In 1969 Fissore would begin working with Swiss automaker Monteverdi, building the bodies for their cars including the Monteverdi High Speed. The largest volume production the company ever did was during the construction of the Monteverdi Safari series, which ran from 1976 to 1982.

Specifications Of The Monteverdi Safari

Engine choices for the Monteverdi Safari varied, a 5.2 liter Chrysler V8 came as standard offering far more power than the 3.5 liter Rover V8 in the Range Rover. Optional engines included the 5.7 liter International Harvester V8, and a much larger Chrysler 7.2 liter V8 which offered even more power, and a top speed of over 200 km/h (124 mph), at the expense of woeful fuel economy.

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Image DescriptionThe interior is well appointed, with power steering, electric windows, air conditioning, a stereo system, front bucket seats, and comfortable seating for five with ample space for luggage in the rear.

As the Safari was based on the International Scout platform it kept the box section steel ladder frame chassis with live axles on leaf springs front and back, with power disc brakes up front, drums in the rear, and telescopic shock absorbers front and back.

The Safari offered many luxuries that hadn’t yet been offered on the Range Rover, including an automatic transmission and electric windows, as well as some more common luxuries like air conditioning and a full leather interior.

Exact production numbers of the Monteverdi Safari aren’t known, though most estimates put the figure somewhere in the low hundreds, which would make it one of the Swiss automaker’s most successful models.

Interestingly, Monteverdi would later collaborate with Range Rover, building a four-door version of the vehicle at a time when the factory in England was only making two-door models. These Monteverdi-modified Range Rovers were sold in limited numbers through official Range Rover dealers, until the official four-door Range Rover debuted in 1981.

The Monteverdi Safari Shown Here

The vehicle you see here is a Monteverdi Safari from 1978, it was delivered new in Switzerland and fitted with the 5.7 liter International Harvester V8 engine mated with an automatic transmission, a dual-range transfer case, and selectable four-wheel drive.

This Safari is finished in silver with black trim down the side. It has dual exhausts and alloy wheels fitted with Goodyear Wrangler 255/70R15C tires on all four corners, it also comes with a set of four spares on classic steel wheels.

Inside, you’ll find a full black interior featuring black cloth seats, black carpeting, a black dashboard, black door cards, and a black console. A rallye-style steering wheel is fitted, with a Monteverdi center cap, and power steering was built-in from the factory. The original stereo head unit is in place, and the center console has the automatic shifter, the dual range shifter, an ash tray, cigarette lighter, and the controls for the electric windows.

The vehicle has a back seat that can carry three, bringing the total capacity to five, and behind the rear seat there is a generous cargo/luggage area. The rear of the Safari features a fold down tail gate with a fold up rear window.

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Image DescriptionThe styling of the Monteverdi Safari was unmistakably similar to earlier Monteverdi models. The Safari sold in significant numbers, with a few hundred believed to have been built, making it one of the firm’s best sellers.

This Safari has been cared for by Monteverdi specialist Andreas Wüst, including 15,000 CHF ($16,827 USD) on servicing and maintenance in recent history, invoices for which now accompany the vehicle. it has just under 20,000 kilometers on the odometer (12,427 miles), making it a very low mileage example.

It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Bonhams on the 30th of June with a price guide of 90,000110,000 CHF, or approximately $101,000 – $123,000 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Bonhams

Published by Ben Branch -