From the archive: coupés galore at a Geneva show to remember


Another mid-engined V8 beauty came from Switzerland’s only car firm. Monteverdi had emerged in 1967 with a talented front-engined 7.0-litre GT, the High Speed, and now diversified with a sports car, the 450bhp Hai (‘shark’ in German).

Just two were built, so we never drove it, but a Classic & Sports Car review in 2013 described it as “like being locked in a tumble dryer” yet “uniquely awe-inspiring”.

Another supercar show star that we wish had made production was Mercedes-Benz’s rotary-engined C111, which since its 1969 debut had received a new shape and a fourth rotor, raising output from 280 to 350bhp and 217 to 289lb ft.

The next German jaw-dropper was BMW’s Garmisch – “another example of the stylists spoiling an otherwise clean and attractive shape by applications of bits and pieces in search of individuality”.

Regardless of our sniffiness, it would strongly influence the first 5 and 3 Series; and in 2019, BMW recreated the lost car from photos and Marcello Gandini’s memories in honour of the Bertone legend.

Talking of coachbuilders, Frua crafted a “very handsome” Opel Diplomat V8 coupé; Michelotti “an extremely elegant” Fiat 125 S saloon; and Moretti five-seat coupé and convertible versions of – you would never guess it – the Fiat 128.

Much more interesting for Brits, though, was Ford’s latest Capri: the competition-ready RS 2600, with an extra 76cc and other uprated parts for 160bhp, plus a load of suspension improvements.

From our own makers came a new fibreglass-bodied Lotus 7 and Chrysler’s Hillman Avenger, to be sold locally as the Sunbeam 1500.

Another weird rebadging was the Swiss-made Ranger A, an Opel Rekord C with a Vauxhall Victor FD face, also built in South Africa and Belgium. General Motors would give up on the experiment in 1978.

To round things off, American Motors showed a small hatchback, the Gremlin. They called it “cute”; Europeans said “are you joking?”



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