Montreal - the Idea is Realised

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Testing and debut

After returning to Italy the two prototypes were placed in the custody of the technicians of Alfa Romeo for preliminary tests. While waiting for the definitive mechanicals, the 1600 engine of the Giulia Ti was substituted with a 4 cylinder of 2 litres. As well, several modifications to the cabin intervened and alloy wheels of larger section, those of the Giulia Sprint GTA, were adopted.

The testing of the prototypes unfolded by degrees. After a brief finalising of the provisional mechanicals, it sought to adjust the installation of the brakes, the axle and the remaining mechanicals.

The first testing on the road and on the circuit of Balocco validated the quality of the original plan. The bodywork confirmed, in fact, its excellent design, both from the point of view of aerodynamics and of functionality.

Alfa therefore gave to Bertone the means for the final adjustment of the bodywork. They established the definitive structure of the body, the interior design and the design of the equipment and the methods of production.

Fortunately only one of the Montreals exhibited (Alfa had agreed (to use) the name which the public had unanimously assigned) was used in the tests. The other was used very little and was saved from the usual purpose of "laboratory car": now it is jealously guarded in the historical museum of Alfa Romeo at Arese.

Meanwhile the preparation of the new V8 continued. Although directly derived from the 2 litre of the 33 Sport Prototype, its development proved particularly long and laborious. Nevertheless, once the definitive engine was available, efforts were concentrated on the aerodynamic coefficient and on the functionality of the bodywork (which in the meantime Bertone had adapted to the new mechanicals).

This new phase of testing was effected with two cars prepared especially for this purpose and built in the Portello plant, near the experimental section. Their bodywork, visibly disguised, was similar to that of a station wagon. One of them was to be used in endurance tests: long duration [durata chilometrica] and uneven surfaces. The other was employed only in Balocco for the other specific tests.

Later, one car in the definitive configuration was employed for tests of pure speed, but only in the night hours.

Of this experimental phase, Carlo Chiti remembers: "the role of Autodelta in the development of the Montreal was fundamental. Both the engine and the car were tested and retested by my test (drivers)."

After three long years of gestation, the definitive version of the Montreal debuted at the Salon of Geneva in March 1970. The origins of the delay were multiple reasons of both technical and political nature.

The technical causes can be summarised in the words which Bertone used to publicise the new car: "Montreal, a demanding subject [tema]: to reconcile functionality, psychological elements [elementi psicologici] of a clientele of global range, disparate legislation rules, aerodynamics and aesthetics."

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In effect, the Torinese carrozzeria, to produce the modifications required by Alfa Romeo, had reshaped completely the original project. It was adapted to much more important [importante], - and more bulky, mechanicals. Nevertheless the formal outline remained unchanged, given the success of Expo and the aerodynamic efficiency of the prototype. "To modify the vehicle [modello] to the new and greater bulk of the 8 cylinder engine", remarks Gandini, "the car was made higher, the bonnet considerably enlarged and a pretend [finta] NACA air intake was added, to conceal a further requirement for space in height because of the injection."

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At Geneva, the new Montreal showed clearly the weight of the years in its external appearance (it was good but somewhat anachronistic, beside the "angular" ["tese"] lines of the other bodies, among which (were) even those from Bertone [fra cui lo stesso Bertone]) and the organisation of the mechanicals, in an epoch in which rear-transverse engines were widely spread.

The new Montreal, nevertheless, had a certain sporting determination and maintained a good arrangement of the volumes. It appeared nevertheless weighed down, less slender.

Let's analyse the most important modifications brought about on the body.

The greater bulk of the mechanicals had made the increase in height of the waistline too evident. The windscreen, now more convex, is slightly less inclined. Near the tail, the roof appears notably less slender. One of the reasons is to attempt the widening of the upper parts of the cabin. The lesser slope of the side windows ,to give more space to passengers, is evident.

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The front end is another negative element. Besides being higher, it is shorter by about six centimetres with respect to the prototype. However, the wheelbase [passo] and the rear overhang [sbalzo] remained the same. This caused a further variation from the original proportions. The lesser slope of the grill [calandra] and the greater bulge of the front bumpers is evident.

The front view of the car confirms the preceding observations. Here were brought about great modifications to accommodate the prestigious V8 engine and its accessories. Its positioning in the engine bay of the Montreal did not create too many difficulties but the considerable bulk of the air filter, placed at the centre of the "V" of the engine, determined the characteristic bulge of the pretend NACA air intake. As well, the windscreen [calendra] is less sloped, to augment the space set aside for accessories of the engine, and the bumper of increased dimensions renders the forward parts more massive. Also at the rear the car carries obviously the signs of the modifications brought about from the original plan.

The mounting of (the) rear window is decisively less successful. On the prototype it appears to be fused with the bodywork [appare come fuso con la carrozzeria]. This feels the effect of the general widening of the roof. It is in fact more convex to the sides and slightly more narrow. [Note from Malcolm - it may seem odd that widening the roof would make the rear window more narrow, but I think they mean the visual effect. If you compare photos of the prototype and production cars you can see that, due to the less-curved doors in the latter, there is a pronounced ridge at the end of the roof just in front of the rear window, so the window appears recessed in comparison.]

The tail appears imposing, more high and narrow. To adjust the original design to the new mechanicals, in fact, it had to accomodate greater encumbrances [si sono dovuti rispettare maggiori ingombri]. The petrol tank and the spare wheel, laid out horizontally, were notably more bulky than before, the first to give a sufficient range to the car, now less moderate in fuel consumption compared to the previous engine, the other for the tyres of greater dimensions. A further and deeper examination of the car reveals the changes, dictated almost always by new functional requirements, of other details of the bodywork.

The headlights are completely new, screened by moving grills with a system to retract them every time that sidelights [luci di posizione] are lit.

The advantages of this solution are numerous: besides protecting the line, which envelops without interruption the profile of the bonnet, the headlights are fixed and hence always accurate. Also when the grill is not retracted, they are available for flashing the headlights in the daytime. It is interesting to emphasise that, thanks to their disguise [mascheratura], the position of the headlights complies with the US regulations. At the base of the windscreen now are present two air intakes protected by a small grill in black plastic for the ventilation of the cabin.

A note on the NACA air intake. Besides weighing down the styling, it breaks that "graphic coherence" ["coerenza grafica"] which characterised the bodywork of the prototypes. (On the prototypes) the air intakes, transverse on the bonnet and vertical on the rear pillars, gave rise to an original motif.

The new rear bumpers, in stainless steel, besides being larger, in conformity to US regulations of the time, now incorporate the tail lights. At the lower parts [Al di sotto] note the air intake, further widened, and a slight bulge of the lower parts of the front end to give more space to the engine.

Note that to increase the structural rigidity of the front parts and, consequently, reduce the weight, it was necessary to modify the style of the bonnet, now limited to only a horizontal surface. [Note from Malcolm - the prototypes used a "clamshell" arrangement somewhat similar to the current GTV and Spider].

All the side indicates a greater richness, at times unnecessary. The metallic moulding [profilo] in stainless steel, inserted in the horizontal line that covered all the side of the car, is obvious. It is interrupted only by the arches of the mudguards flared, unlike the original, serving to cover tyres of greater dimensions than those mounted on the prototypes sent to the Canadian Expo.

The side air vents mounted on the rear, reduced now in size, remained unchanged in form and position. A few of them perform the function of venting the air of the cabin.

The door handles are new. Even if more functional, they do not harmonise like the previous with the area of the air vents. The covering of the sill is painted in flat smoke grey, in an attempt to slim down the side.

At the front, on the mudguard, are mounted the direction indicators. The Bertone plate is now positioned on the upper part of the side, while the door for the fuel filler changes (to) the right hand side of the car, in consequence of the adoption of a new fuel tank.

The original wheels were substituted at the last moment with others of Alfa Romeo design. These, even if most beautiful (their design would be adopted by numerous Alfa models to the end of the '80's), do not adequately harmonise with the other trimmings of the bodywork.

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The accessories of the rear are not exceptions to the new style. All the area is more "heavy" ["carica"], because the dimensions of various details are now proportioned to the new bulk of the tail.

This is the case with the lights [gruppi ottici] and the rear bumper.

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This last, no longer defined as an ornamental theme, is of greater dimensions, like the front, on the grounds of approval in foreign markets. The area that it contains is painted in dull smoke grey. At the centre now stands a large chromed "Alfa Romeo" script. Two small mouldings in stainless steel are present at the sides of the number plate holder. Finally, a "frame" [cornice], also in stainless steel, surrounds, as on the prototype, all the upper part of the tail.

The rear window maintained the original function. Below this is hidden the baggage compartment. Standing out still, between the window and the tail, (is) the "Alfa Romeo Milano" coat of arms, inserted in a mounting of black plastic.

All the body appears therefore more sculpted and less clean because of the different proportions of the volumes. It is however a logical transformation considering that the definitive mechanicals are much more sizeable [importante] than those of the predecessor three years earlier. The front is perhaps the element remaining (most) faithful to the first idea.

The Montreal is perhaps a little more "ornate" [ornati], above all from the weight and evidence of chrome which delimits the grill and marks the extremities [parte terminale]. Nuccio Bertone, interviewed at the 1970 Salon of Geneva, is of another opinion: "The impression of richness is probably suggested by the comparison with the other Alfas, all extremely austere, austerity which is found somewhat [giustamente] softened on the Berlina 1750. Cars of the category to which the Montreal belongs deserve, on the contrary, demand, a study [studio] and a detail treatment [cura particolari] even in the external finish [finizione]. There is more: a certain severity of design, in which the matt black substituted for chrome, would be appreciated by an elite of very limited clients; the Montreal is a distinctive car, but turned to [si rivogle] and destined for a public without doubt more numerous."

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Bertone with this was referring to the overseas customers. They had certainly welcomed the sporting determination [grinta] and the gaudiness of the Montreal, accentuated also by a range of vivid colours which made it difficult for the car to pass unobserved.

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The Differential Structure

While designing the external form of the car, the designers at Bertone, assisted by colleagues in Alfa, were strengthening the new steel monocoque body.

The design of the zones in which were localised strong torsional forces was particularly thorough: the mountings of the suspension and the engine, and the hinges [ceriere]. This conferred, therefore, on all the structure a greater rigidity to increase the active safety [sicurezza attiva] of the car.

Moreover, they considered, as on the cars of the Giulia series, that the sturdiness given [articolata] a body was one of the principal factors in passive safety. For this, in planning the definitive bodywork the design of a body of differential structure was respected. The photograph, which shows the body of the Montreal without the external panels, reveals, in fact, a structure designed to confer on the car a higher torsional and bending rigidity, adequate for the performance of the drive train. We will look at all of its characteristics: structure of the cabin (noting the robust windscreen surround [centina]) to ensure the "crushproofness" [indeformabilita] in the case of a collision or overturning; the front and rear of the vehicle with deformable structures. It is exactly from the differences of behaviour of the various parts of the car that was born the concept of the structure of differential rigidity.

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The experiments conducted by Alfa in this field at the end of the first years of the '60's had proven the solution adopted to be right. In the case of a violent accident the "measured robustness" ["robustezza dosata"] of the car absorbed the kinetic energy produced in the work of deformation and slowed down progressively the speed of the cabin and limited to the utmost the physical consequences for the occupants, leaving intact the doors with their opening mechanisms [dispositivi di apertura].

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The Interior

The design of the interior and its adaptation to the requirements of production was turned entirely over to Bertone. The evolution of the layout [allestimento] of the cabin followed a course [andamento] entirely like that of the bodywork.

The formal organisation of the original design, stamped with sportiness [improtanto a sportivita], in fact, remained unaltered. This was confirmed both by the disposition of the instruments and the controls, and the form [conformazione] of the seats and of the door panels.

The sportiness of the cabin now no longer meant only a special driving position, but also a situation of comfort both aesthetic and functional, indispensable to make the journey comfortable and safe.

The appearance of the interior was, therefore, notably enriched like the exterior of the car: the dashboard and the instruments in particular, were presented in an over-elaborated style even though their eccentric layout gave it some distinctiveness [anche se di un certo effetto per la loro originale disposizione].

The central console was more massive [massicia] and did not blend well, because of the bulk of the new gearbox, with the transmission tunnel. On the other hand, the seats and the door panels were among the details that, headrests and padding apart, remained unaltered.

Unlike the prototype, comfort was particularly looked after: the efficiency of the installation for climate control [climatizzazione] (if given by air conditioning) and the design details of the cabin denoted, in fact, the distinctive respect given by engineers towards the functionality and comfort of the car.

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The Montreal was approved [omologata] as a 2+2 coupe. In truth it was a roomy two seater, as the space behind was sufficient only to accommodate two children. The designer Gandini agrees with this: "The interior was adequate for a sporting coupe of those years even if the space, because of the narrowness of the car and the more bulky mechanicals, was always insufficient".

But let us enter, now, the cabin. The accessibility is good both from the wide opening of the doors and the ground clearance. At the front the passengers are accommodated in two enveloping seats, designed very well to restrain the body even in the most demanding corners. Their construction in detail contributes to this purpose: the quality of the material, the conformation of the back, at the top to include the headrest, and the structure designed against distortion.

The backs of the seats are adjustable and reclinable in front for access to the rear seats. The covering of the front seats is in cloth on the back and the seat cushions, while the sides and rear on the back are in leatherette. Here the covering has holes for ventilation acting to improve comfort.

We observe the door panels. They are well finished: completely covered in leatherette, they are the colour black, with the central part of the same in the colour of the seats. The armrests, with the door handles incorporated, are inspired by those of the 1750. The window winders are identical to those of other Alfa models of the time.

In the front, at the bottom, stands out a metal decoration placed to protect the door panel [pannello]. Moreover, a moulding [mascherina] in black plastic finishes off the door lock [chiusura di sicurezza] placed at the rear base of the window. Still on the panel, the positioning control of the quarter-window is a knob in black plastic, at the centre of which is mounted a shield [galetto] in chrome metal. As an alternative, it was possible to mount a knob of different shape, derived from the Alfa 2000.

At the rear, the sides and the seats are covered in black leatherette, independently of the colours of the other coverings. The seats are given appropriate anchorages for the installation of belts for restraining baggage.

Particular care was taken in the search for maximum acoustic comfort. The interior panels of the car and the bulkhead of the dashboard were covered with panels isolated by a space of 2.5 cm.

The entire cabin is generously glassed [ampiamente vetrato]. The front visibility is excellent while it is poor in the side-rear zone, because of the large uprights of the roof. This makes driving in traffic difficult, where the side mirrors (originally not mounted by the company) give substantial assistance. To contain the brightness and warmth of summer, the windows are tinted blue [atermici azzurati]. The rear window has a demister.

The driving position was designed so as to reach with ease all the controls, even with a seat belt (of fixed type) fastened. It displays an excellent adaptability for drivers of low and medium stature. Only those are able, however, to find the ideal driving position. Others are obstructed by the very low steering wheel. Nevertheless, the well-positioned pedals allow the easy carrying-out of the "heel and toe" manoeuvre.

The position of the gearbox was excellent. A not-too-tall driver is therefore (able to) drive easily with arms semi-stretched.

The dashboard, with combined instruments, is made from anti-reflective material. It maintains the same formal organisation as the prototypes, with two large cylindrical sections for the accommodation of the instruments. The internal spaces of the two cylinders, of original design, are delimited by surfaces which avoid all reflections.

On the dashboard, covered at the bottom by a chromed moulding, are found two storage shelves [ripostigli], covered internally in leatherette of the same colour as the seats: one to the left for the driver and the other, more spacious, at the front of the passenger. Below the latter is the glovebox [un cassetto porta oggetti]. At the centre is found the space for the car radio covered by a plate trimmed in black leatherette. On this stands out the "b" of Bertone.

The steering wheel, with the outside in wood, has a holder of the steering column [supporto a "calice"] made of three non-reflective metal spokes [razze]. Each one of these incorporates the push-buttons of the horn, particularly necessary in sporting driving. This same steering wheel was then adopted on the 2000 Berlina of 1971.

On the steering column, to the left, are two levers: one short for the operation of direction indicators, the other for the control of the external lights and indicators.

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To the right, on the central console, are found six switches, illuminated at night by an external overhead light. They control respectively from left to right: the windscreen wipers with two speeds; the town/country horn switch; the optional electric windows; the instrument lights and the internal ceiling lights of the car.

These last are placed, forward, at the end of the door openings [quadro porta apparecchi] near the [in correspondenza delle] slits which are found on the rear pillars.

Other controls, placed under the console switches, are: the two levers of the ventilation and heating system and, below these, the knob for the ventilation fan, with two speeds, and the cigarette lighter.

On the horizontal surface of the console, in front of the gear lever, are placed the switches with warning lights incorporated for the heated rear window and the ashtray. This last detail, upholstered in black leatherette, was characterised by the only "Montreal" script shown on the car.

Below the dashboard are positioned, to the left, the lever for opening the bonnet and, to the right of the steering column, the small lever for the hand-throttle.

The instrumentation is complete. In the left housing we find the speedometer, with the odometer and trip meter; the fuel gauge and three (warning) lights: external lights, headlights on high beam and reserve petrol. Below are installed the clock and the ammeter. In the right housing are placed the tachometer, the oil pressure gauge [manometro dell'olio] and another three warning lights: fan, hand brake on, and low fuel pressure. Below are located the temperature gauges for water and oil.

In the central position, between the two faces, are installed two warning lights: direction indicators and minimum level of brake fluid.

From the point of view of safety, apart from the deformable structure, many accessories of the cabin were designed to cause the least damage possible in case of an accident: the anti-collision rear-view mirror with automatic unfastening, partially padded dashboard, toughened [stratificato] windscreen, steering wheel with collapsible steering column, windscreen? [centine] not aligned with the head, attachments for three-point seat belts.

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As with all high performance GTs, the cabin of the Montreal suffered from the heat given off by the engine, especially in the summer season. Only with air conditioning (supplied as an option) on was it possible to drive with certain comfort. During less hot periods the heating and cooling system, given eight outlets [bocchetti], carried out its task with distinction [egregiamente]; another two (outlets) were added for the dynamic ventilation taking the air directly from the outside by means of special ducts. In particular: four outlets are on the upper parts of the dashboard, able to be positioned for defrosting the windscreen; central on the sides of the console, moveable and adjustable; also two centrally positioned below the dashboard. The two outlets for the dynamic ventilation, also movable and adjustable, are found in connection to the wheel arches. [si trovano in corrispondenza dei passagi routa].

Special slits, with devices for opening and closing, mounted on the rear uprights, support, through ram effect [per effetto dinamico] the change of air in the interior of the car. Above these is obtained [e ricavate] the accommodation for the installation of the loudspeakers.

Raising the lever positioned on the rear upright in the left door operates the opening of the rear window, balanced by elastic components cushioned hydraulically. The window is perfectly stable in every position of opening and allows easy access to the baggage compartment, after having moved a folding shelf situated above this.

The boot is entirely trimmed in cloth and illuminated by an overhead light. Its dimensions are rather limited by the presence of the spare wheel arranged horizontally (protected by a circular panel), by the battery, by the jack for lifting the car and by the toolkit. The small capacity of the boot is compensated (for) by the rear seats on which a reasonable amount of luggage can be placed.

The endowment of standard equipment is of the standards of this class of car: wheels in light alloy, complete instruments, dual-tone horns, seats with headrests, lights for opened [ingombro] doors.

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The availability of optional accessories, such as air conditioning and electric windows, corresponded [ponevano] to the level of competitors.

The cars given air conditioning were distinguished by a three-speed fan, by the air temperature regulator knob and by the new plate for the control levers, placed on the central console. To the rear, on the window, was applied a green small sticker with the words "aria condizionata".

The cars with electric windows were equipped with an emergency handle for the manual operation of the window winding device.

The general finish of the cabin is at the level of the class in which the Montreal is placed, even if some of the accessories in the interior are borrowed from Alfa cars of lower categories.

In the interior one notes sometimes the excessive elaboration of some details. Also that the work of adaption brought about from the original plan did not always achieve the results hoped for.

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p.33 After six months on exhibition, the two Montreal prototypes were sent to the technicians of Alfa Romeo for the first tests. The testing of the car validated the quality of the original design: the bodywork confirmed its excellent aerodynamics and functional qualities. Alfa asked Bertone to modify the model for the new and larger bulk of the V8 engine of the 33. The car was made higher and the bonnet notably inflated with a pretend NACA air intake to camouflage the necessity of (additional) space in height (required) because of the injection, forcing Bertone therefore to recast completely the original design. After three long years of gestation, the new Montreal debuted at the Salon of Geneva in 1970: in this photo, the car at the Alfa Romeo stand of the Geneva exhibition.

p.35: The definitive Montreal displayed greatly modified bodywork. Specifically the massive frontal part with a less inclined windscreen to augment the space set aside for accessories of the engine and the bumper of larger [grosse] dimensions. To increase the structural rigidity the cut of the bonnet was modified, now delimited solely by a horizontal surface.

p.36: The Montreal of Bertone at Geneva showed the weight of passing years: it was (still) good, but by now out of fashion next to the "angular" ["tese"] lines of other bodies [carrozzieri]. Nevertheless the car was very aggressive and maintained a good disposition of volumes, but appeared weighed down and less slender because of the greater bulk of the mechanicals which brought about an obvious increase in height of the waistline. Note the very beautiful [bellissime] wheels in light alloy made by Campagnolo to the Alfa Romeo design.

p.38 (left): Above and to the side, the headlight fitting [fanaleria], which showed an original motif: the lights were screened by moving grills with a system of retraction [una sistema a depressione]. These improved the aerodynamics of the car with the advantage that the lights were always available for the necessity of flashing [lampeggio] (the lights) during the day.

p.38 (right): Above, an image that shows to perfection the aggressiveness of the Montreal, accentuated by the stylised Alfa shield and by the NACA air intake.

p.39: To the side, the changes carried out on the original design affected also the rear parts of the car, in which is evident [e evidenza] the general enlargement of the roof. The tail was made higher to give more space to the petrol tank and to the spare wheel. Below, the side became more ornate [ricca]: note the metal trim inserted in the recess that covered all the side and the flares of the wheel arches.

p.40: The body of the Montreal deprived of the external panels reveals a structure of high torsional and bending rigidity. Note the robust A pillars [centina] placed to protect the cabin.

p.41: The formal arrangement of the interior of the Montreal remained unaltered. Nevertheless, the sportiness [sportivita] of the cabin now no longer meant only an asset to sporting driving but also a position [condizione] for comfort necessary for long journeys. The appearance of the interior was made "richer" [fu arricchito]. At times in a manner too elaborate, for example the dashboard and the instruments. Apart from some updating, the seats and the door panels remained unchanged.

p.42: On the opposite page, the sporting organisation [l'impostazione sportiva] of the driving position places in prominence the enveloping seats and the wooden three spoke steering wheel with the horn buttons incorporated, essential in fast driving. The driving position, optimised for the driver of low and medium stature, a little less for the tall because of the very low steering wheel, was designed so as to reach with ease all the controls. The dashboard with its combined instruments was made from anti-reflective material and was characterised by two large cylindrical sections for the accommodation of all the instruments.

p.44: The cabin of the Montreal suffered, especially during the summer season, from the heat emitted by the engine. In these conditions only the installation of air conditioning, supplied as an option, allowed one to drive with certain comfort. In less hot periods the ventilation system was up to the situation with its eight outlets plus two for dynamic [Malcolm, ie flow-through] ventilation.

p.45 (top): As with the Giulia GT, lifting the lever placed in the rear pillar of the door opening activated the opening of the rear window.

p.45 (bottom): Above and to the sides, the opening of the rear window balanced by small hydraulic shock absorbers which allowed the window to be set in any position. Through this, after having moved a folding shelf, one was able to easily gain access to the baggage compartment.

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