This Swiss Safari may be the first Super SUV

by Nik Berg
21 June 2024 2 min read
This Swiss Safari may be the first Super SUV

Switzerland’s short-lived supercar maker Monteverdi is best-known for its High Speed series of coupes and saloons, but the company also pioneered the idea of a high-performance, luxury all-terrain explorer with its Safari.

In 1976, at a time when the most potent Range Rover made do with a 3.5-litre V8 mustering just 132 horses, the Safari came with a choice of Chrysler V8s from 5.2-litres to 7.2-litres in capacity and upwards of 300 horsepower.

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Underneath a body built by Carozzeria Fissore was the running gear from the International Harvester Scout, giving the Safari the capability to tackle the rugged mountain tracks of the Swiss Alps in style, thanks to a switchable four-wheel drive system.

Inside the Safari outclassed its British rival with luxuries including air conditioning, optional leather trim, electric windows and power locks. Buyers could also specify a sunroof, a TV, and even a fridge as well as winch for more serious off-road excursions.

Monteverdi Safari 7

The Sahara was originally priced from 39,000 Swiss Francs (around £51,300 in today’s money) making it significantly more spendy than a Range Rover, yet it still became Monterverdi’s best-selling model, with over 100 examples built. Remember this was long before the likes of Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini and Ferrari turned their attentions to the 4×4 sector.

If the idea of owning such a special machine appeals to you then your’e in luck as a 1978 Sahara is about to go to auction in its native Switzerland.

The shiny silver Sahara was delivered to its first keeper in the Canton of Bern where it was cherished for more than 40 years. Since 2021 it has been cared for by a collector after being purchased from Monterverdi specialist Andreas Wüst who only added a few digits to the 20,000 km (12,427 miles) shown on its odometer.

Powered by the mid-range 5.7-litre V8 mated to an automatic transmission it is in excellent original condition and clearly still quite capable of major mountain climbing. Offered for sale by Bonhams at its Cheserex auction in Switzerland on 30 June, the Safari is estimated to sell for 90-110,000 Swiss Francs or £80,000-£98,000.

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