The property of a lady 1966 Lamborghini 400GT Monza two-seater aluminium berlinetta Coachwork by Neri & Bonacini Chassis no. 01030
When newcomer Lamborghini arrived on the motoring scene in 1963 his supercar rivals down the road in Maranello and in Modena took note. Here was a wealthy industrialist with the drive and the means to challenge their supremacy who had already put together a team of gifted young engineers who were to transform his ambitious dreams into reality.
Lamborghinis first model, the 350GT, wowed the motoring press and public alike when launched in 1964. Enzo, Orsi and David Brown had better look to their laurels! remarked Sports Car Graphic magazine after testing an example early in 1966. Not content to rest on their own laurels, Lamborghinis engineers were already at work on a successor, the 400GT, which was in road testers hands by the end of that year. Better than all the equivalent exotic and home-bred machinery in this glamorous corner of the fast-car market judged Autocar after 300 miles at the wheel.
The series produced 350GT/ 400GT coupé was the work of respected carrozzeria Touring of Milan, retained by Ferruccio who, some say, was not entirely happy with Franco Scagliones design for the first 350GTV prototype. Although even the revised design remained somewhat controversial, just a handful of bespoke show cars were built on the 350/ 400GT chassis. Touring was responsible for a pair of handsome spyders and the rakish, shooting brake inspired Flying Star II for a French client. Sporting Milanese firm Zagato penned a pair of coupés with many of their trademark features. Almost certainly the most exotic creation of all, however, came from much closer to home: Neri & Bonacinis mysterious Monza.
Giorgio Neri and Luciano Bonacini ran a well-established workshop in Modena looking after Ferrari and Maserati racing cars, and had taken over responsibility for the maintenance of customer cars after the latters competition department shut its doors in the late 1950s. They had been retained by Ferruccio Lamborghini to build the first prototype Lamborghini chassis and engine, and the very first complete car to bear his name, the 350GTV, in 1963. They continued as Lamborghinis chassis supplier until handing over responsibility to their former employee Marchesi once 350GT production was well underway.
Already responsible for the famous Nembo series of Ferraris, Neri & Bonacini now turned their hand to creating their own interpretation of a high speed Lamborghini granturismo. As a contemporary Italian historian put it: This Monza 400 does not lack character: the cockpit, set low onto a flowing and powerful infrastructure, creates a silhouette which cannot fail to impress. The wide mouth opening, almost at ground level, the shape of the side windows, the rear sail panels all make it a handsome car. This prototype has been born with the blessing of Ferruccio Lamborghini, who is said to have followed it closely after disappointments with coachbuilders.
Believed to have been finished in May/ June 1966 (this date appears on photographs shot by journalist Pete Coltrin of the car nearing completion), the Monza may have been intended to put forward an alternative Lamborghini model but, after attracting the attention of the motoring press for a few brief months, it remained a tantalising one-off and disappeared from view for almost four decades.
At the time the authoritative American magazine Road & Track, who followed the construction of the Monza in their November 1966 issue, commented: Basic contours are considerably cleaner than [the] production Lamborghini. In their 4th August 1966 issue, Italys weekly motoring equivalent AutoSprint observed: The line of the car is very pleasing and most rakish the absence of garish chrome and the purity of its lines place it amongst the finest creations of the Italian automotive tradition. French magazine LAutomobile noted in 1967 that: A surprise awaited Spaniards at the circuit of Jarama attending the presentation of the Lamborghini Miura. The latter was admired as it has been everywhere, but this curiosity was shared with another model with a previously unseen silhouette, which also bears the badge of the Italian constructor. Baptised Jarama in honour of the Spanish circuit, this prototype has been executed on the 400GT from which it takes its mechanical elements. Existing for now only as a one-off, the Lamborghini Jarama has nothing aesthetically to envy the classic GT version.
When we recently arranged for Giorgio Neri to be interviewed by Octane magazine as part of a feature on this car, he recalled: I think we built it for an American client, possibly with the intention of racing at Le Mans, but there were homologation problems. He was under the impression that the car had been built earlier, possibly in 1963/4, using a 350GT chassis (virtually identical to the 400GT chassis) but, seeing the car for the first time in almost four decades, confirms: È perfetta (its perfect) exactly as I remember it. He recalls that the intention had originally been to call the car the Monza Neri and Bonacini but that they finally decided to abbreviate the name to Monza, a romantic and suggestive name.
Quite how remains a mystery but this rakish one-off was shipped to Spain and presented on Lamborghini importer Amatos stand at the 1967 Barcelona Motor Show where it caught the eye of a wealthy Spanish gentleman who, having already achieved success in other high-risk sporting pursuits such as motocross and big game hunting, had recently decided that motor racing might be fun. Moving rapidly from a tuned Mini Cooper to a new Porsche 904 (and soon a 908), his taste in road cars was equally exotic. The Lamborghini Miura on Amatos stand was drawing the crowds, but there was a lengthy waiting list which, even with his connections (in a country where most of Generalissimo Francos citizens had to make do with home-grown family cars), was rather less appealing. Sitting next to the silver Miura, however, was an equally low-slung berlinetta resplendent in metallic Amaranto set off by chrome Borrani wire wheels. After negotiations, and possibly a word or two with friends in high places, the Lamborghini Monza was his except that the Monza script adorning the cars rear had already been replaced by a Jarama badge in deference to the cars new home country (long before Lamborghini had christened its own Jarama model).
Over the next three years the dark red Lamborghini Monza conveyed its sportsman owner to race meetings across the country and on high speed private journeys, rarely leaving Spain. In 1970, with just 7,136km covered, this unique V12 granturismo was laid up in one of the owners garages on a busy shopping street, alongside numerous motorcycles and a powerboat, before the entrance was blocked off. Here the car sat for the next few decades whilst thousands of miles away, motoring historians speculated as to the fate of the Lamborghini Monza. Rumours abounded that the car had been sold to an American collector, books on the marque were published which invariably listed the Monza as missing, but nobody knew for sure.
In the early 1990s the owner passed away but his family, unaware of the rarity of the Monza, paid little attention to it. They finally contacted Brooks (now Bonhams) late in 1996. We identified the car as the missing Lamborghini Monza and have spent the past nine years hoping for the familys consent to finally part with this unique and fascinating car.
As offered today, the Lamborghini Monza is as found. The word original could not be more appropriate: paint, leather, carpets, trim, nothing has really been touched since 1966, with the exception of a mechanical check-up by former factory foreman Orazio Salvioli to ensure the engine runs and cleaning of the coachwork and interior by Modenese coachbuilder Pietro Cremonini. The Monza has recently featured in a major article in Octane magazine in which it was reunited with Giorgio Neri, veteran Lamborghini factory test driver Valentino Balboni and Ferruccios nephew Fabio Lamborghini, and for the past month has been on loan to the factorys own museum in SantAgata. Rarely are such discoveries made these days: we are very excited to have been entrusted with the disposal of this one, direct from almost four decades in the present family ownership.