The perimeter grille features vented retractable headlight trim, the hood houses a NACA duct (one of the first production cars to use this element), the rear features a full width glass hatch and Kammback tail, the doors feature a Miura-like upsweep into the body upper, and perhaps the most memorable and distinctive aspects of the design, the sail panels feature a set of six dramatic rectangular venting slats.
The side vents, applied as a thematic concept to both the hood and side panels of the original concept, were fresh and contemporary. The side vents created a visual strobing of energy that broke up the visual height of the Montreal but also visually reduced the mass of the body colored sail panels, concealing the rear seats. Having cribbed heartily from the Miura, it’s possible that these design elements were enlarged details captured from the delicate door venting in the Miura. Other obvious Miura features include the distinct rear fender haunches, windshield to side glass proportions, eyelash headlights, and fastback roofline. But for as much as the Montreal owed the Miura in design, it also departed greatly from the early 1960s with a novel approach to sports car design. The central body line divided the tall side mass, the modern NACA duct added space aged panache, and the wide interior cabin made for a surprisingly comfortable supercar with all the performance and prestige of a two place sports car.
Studying the Montreal, it’s tempting to wonder how it might look without the distinctive side panel design. Removing these design elements shows almost immediately how important these features are to the overall design of the Montreal, and not simply a clever gimmick of visual distraction. So important are the proportions, pacing, and scale of these side vents that even the removal of one of the six elements makes the design appear more rotund and less urgent. The strobing effect that Gandini captured with his design was most certainly the inspiration behind John Herlitz’s design of the 1971 Road Runner, which shares many familiar themes, but primarily in the strobe effect over the C-post, also using six side panel segments.
Captured with great Italian passion and delivered through the vision of Canada’s hopeful future of man and technology as it debuted at the 1967 Montreal Expo, the Alfa Romeo Montreal remains tastefully unique, a blend of Italian performance and style, with the spark of Canadian futurism – perhaps it was the finely ground Maple leaves that were the secret ingredient to the Montreal’s magical pesto.