Since you're reading the Model Citizen Blog, we're pretty confident that at least once in your life, you've harbored the fantasy of opening your own personal model car museum. You are not alone: our mental concept of a future Model Citzen headquarters includes generous space for a model museum. It must be part of our nature as collectors to want to share our treasures with like-minded enthusiasts, and so we spend years building and curating our collections, perhaps with an eye on one day opening our own little museum to show them off.
Of course, if you're wealthy and would rather just skip to the part where you open your doors to the public, you could just buy an existing collection...maybe one with, say, 11,000 1:43-scale diecast cars. If this description applies to you, an opportunity to buy a massive, turnkey model car collection has arisen: vintage car dealer Classic Sports Cars Holland is offering for sale the collection of the late low-volume automaker Peter Monteverdi (link).
Spanning close to 50 years of diecast history, Monteverdi (who died in 1998) accumulated an incredible breadth and depth of subject matter. Looking at the photos in the linked article from Classic Driver, we see that highbrow exotics like Ferrari shared shelf space with the most humble Renaults. There are near-toy grade cars like Corgi and Dinky models, and there are handbuilt premium pieces as well. It's hard to imagine any 1:43-scale collector not being moved by at least SOME component of this collection. As per the article, the dealer prefers to sell the collection whole, rather than breaking it up, and they will consider interesting 1:1-scale car trade offers!
So, who was Peter Monteverdi?
Photo courtesy of Aaron Butler
Europe in the 1960s and 1970s was fertile ground for would-be luxury automakers. Among the best known were DeTomaso and Iso, pioneers in the field of "hybrid" cars when the term referred to European coachwork draped over muscular American engines (and not battery-assisted grocery getters). Cut from the same cloth, though far more obscure in the U.S., was Monteverdi, a Swiss firm that contracted with Italian coachbuilders to create a line of elegant GTs, luxury SUVs, and even a prototype mid-engined supercar: the Hai 450SS (memorialized by a Matchbox toy in 1973, pictured above).
Monteverdi was the brainchild of Swiss designer Peter Monteverdi, who grew his family's Basel garage first into an unsuccessful Formula 1 constructor, and then into a boutique builder of bespoke exotic cars. The market for handcrafted, slightly offbeat luxury GTs with American V8s was rather thin and already saturated with Jensen Interceptors and DeTomaso Deauvilles. Monteverdi never sold more than a handful of cars, but nevertheless kept his business going throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, even going so far as to buy the Onyx F1 team for a brief return to racing in 1990.
Clearly, a man such as the late Peter Monteverdi was a "car guy" to his marrow...why else go through the constant tribulations of running his own car company AND a Formula 1 team? That passion is reflected in the model car collection he built over his lifetime, one that bonds him to the rest of us collectors. Here was a guy who could not only afford to buy pretty much any car he wanted, but could also build any car he wanted, and he still carved out time and resources to acquire the little cars that have fueled so many of our dreams. Truly, Peter Monteverdi was One Of Us.
Thanks to fellow collector Aaron Butler for his photo of Matchbox's classic Monteverdi Hai model, from his own collection.