02 November 2011
On many occasions, the rarest cars are the ones that get more attention from model makers. That’s not the case with Monteverdi’s Hai 450 SS. Since the 1970s, when this Swiss supercar was launched, there haven’t been many 1/43 scale models. At last, Neo has released a modern high quality replica. Francisco Mota decides how good this Swiss shark is. ...
Peter Monteverdi inherited a workshop from his father in Geneva, where his passion for cars took him to evolve it into a specialised business, tuning competition cars of all kinds. Eventually, the business would became the Swiss importer for Ferrari. But, just like Ferruccio Lamborghini before him, Monteverdi’s fall out with ‘Il Commentatore’ also led him to start his own car brand, with the aim of producing the best sports cars.
The recipe for Monteverdis was common in the era for someone wanting to enter this restricted area of the market: tubular chassis, big American V8 engine and styling closely inspired on Italian exotica.
After some conventional front engined and rear wheel-driven coupés and luxury four doors, Monteverdi decided to go for something even more risky: a mid engine supercar, as pioneered by Lamborghini’s Miura. The project started in 1969 under the name Hai (translated to shark in German). The chassis was a heavy duty tubular frame, with rectangular cross-section tubes and independent suspension, front and rear.
Placed exactly in the middle of the car was the biggest American V8 engine that GM could source at the time: the 426 Hemi with 6980cc fed via two Carter carburettors. The maximum announced power was an impressive 450cv and 662Nm of torque, at 4000rpm.
The front of the V8 was sited between the two seats, making the car wider than most competitors. Transmission was to the rear wire wheels through a five-speed ZF manual gearbox. Top speed was 290km/h and acceleration 0-60mph was 4.8 seconds. Great data, but there was no reaction from the market. The petrol crisis in 1973 didn’t help and total production stopped at a mere three cars.
Where is it today?
The original Monteverdi Hai 450 SS from 1970 today sits inside the Monteverdi Museum in Binningen, Basel, Switzerland. The car is restored and looks as good as new and was obviously scanned by Neo to produce its model. Alongside the 450 SS, there’s a 450 GTS from 1973, a slightly modified version. Both cars are part of a 70-strong collection of Monteverdi models, reputedly the biggest anywhere. It can be visited via a scheduled appointment (please visit www.monteverdi.ch to find out more) and there’s even a bonus for diecast enthusiasts – a model car collection with 11,000 cars, said to be the biggest on show in Europe! Well worth a visit in my view...
The Neo model
Dutch brand Neo has just released a 1/43 scale model of the Monteverdi Hai 450 SS, according to the model year 1970. The general proportions and basic lines of Trevor Fiore’s original design look just stunning!
The very low front end and the sculpted flanks with pronounced wheel arches are perfectly reproduced. Painting in the mandatory red is deep enough and bright everywhere, without orange peel.
The opening parts are all very well underlined and the plastic that replicates the generous glasshouse has a high degree of transparency. These are all individual parts and glued from the outside with good precision. The wheel arches’ sharp edges shows why resin is the best material to produce a model like this.
The Hai impresses mainly by its dimensions and proportions but there are some details that deserve special attention. For instance, the wire wheels are made from photo-etched metal and come together with perfect three wing central nuts. The same material is used for all the chromed windows surroundings as well as the wide rear plaque under the rear lights that carries the Monteverdi name. A small mesh grille and four tailpipes finishes the rear section very well.
Looking through the ‘glass’ one can actually see the interior, with both bucket seats and a three-arm sports steering wheel. Even the column stalks are there, as well as the gearshift and a decal reproduces the instruments in front of the driver and all the secondary knobs.
ith some attention, one can identify the black central engine cover between the seats – it makes you want to be 43 times smaller for some minutes, just to enjoy the car even better!
The retail price of €65 looks good value, considering the quality of Neo’s model. Overall, it’s a great addition to any collection featuring supercars and a long time awaited model by many collectors. Well done Neo!