A look at the Montreal ‘76
Adidas were never shy of tying their products to sporting events – for the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal they outdid themselves, releasing four different shoes. They also produced a running shoe called Montreal, but that was in late 80s and had nothing to do with the Games. Interestingly none of the shoes were really new - adidas modified existing models and rebadged them for the games.
They produced a model based on the classic cities silhouette à la ‘Stockholm’, ‘Brussel’, ‘Bern’ etc. The original 1975 version was blue with green stripes, followed by blue with a yellow in 1976, a very rare yellow with blue striped pair (which I have seen once) and the final version and in my opinion the best - blue with sky blue stripes which as the inspiration for the recent Spezial release Hochelage.
Montreal made in Yugoslavia from 1981 from the collection of Gary Corbett.
Next up is a variant of the ‘Varsity’. The 'Varsity' was an all-purpose budget training shoe originally released in 1971 and intended for the US college market. The ‘Montreal 1976’ is pretty much the same, even in the same colourways;- blue-white, red-white and blue-yellow. It’s has really big Olympic Ring logo on the side of the shoe, which looks brilliant in my opinion.
Made in Yugoslavia the 'Montreal 1976' was basically a re-badged 'Varsity'
The third shoe is called ‘Montreal Super’ and is really rare, in fact outside of a 1976 Dutch catalogue image, I’ve never seen a pair. The shoe pretty much looks like a ‘Vienna’ even down to the Star profile sole - until we reach the ankle where we see the shoe rises to a mid-cut with some interesting padding around the collar. If anyone has seen a pair or has a pair please get it touch.
The 'Montreal Super' one of the rarest adidas models out there.
Finally and most famously the ‘Montreal 76’. Although this shoe has a very famous silhouette it was actually based on the earlier ‘Munchen Super’ from 1972. It has got the same hexagonal pattern microcell sole encased in rubber foxing, a perforated toe box and a rubber heel support that extends from the base of the heel to the Achilles tendon protector. The heel support on the ‘Munchen Super’ is coloured the same as the upper, while on the ‘Montreal 76’ it’s the same colour as the foxing which is why people don’t perhaps notice the similarity of the shoes.
The official adidas shoe of the 1972 Munich Games was the inspiration for the 'Montreal 76'
Regarding the famous rubber heel support, I heard a rumour that it was designed as such so that you could slip your foot into the shoe and tread the back down under your foot and wear them almost like a flip-flop. Furthermore if you peak inside the shoe you will find that there is only half an insole in there, which cover the toes and ball of the foot, but stops half way under the arch of your foot. Where the rest of the insole normally sits we just have a panel of smooth leather. However, I couldn’t find any evidence in any promotional literature to suggest that is true - but you can actually do this, as the back is fully collapsible and folds underneath your foot well. It’s hardly comfortable for long distances, but it works and I keep a pair by the back door so I can slip them on for a quick visit to the garden (Tip of the Day that).
The Famous 'Montreal 76' Silhouette, this is the second version with the name running parallel to the stripes. The first version from 1975 had the boxed logo.
Traditionally the shoe was navy with sky blue stripes, but a couple of colour variations exist. Black with white stripes and a very rare black with red striped version from 1980 time. The black-red are minus the rubber heel support for some reason, being replaced by a suede overlay.
Colour variation of the 'Montreal 76'. Image provided by the legend that is Funkyadi.
Montreal ’76 were extremely popular and were produced for much longer than the other models, although adidas dropped the ’76 part of the tag in 1980. A number of variants now start to appear. In 1981 the Montreal’s foxing and heel support receives a makeover with a much stronger rubber finish (although it is still collapsible). 1982 sees the first version with ‘D’ ring lacing system allowing speed lacing. The stripes are now also silver as opposed to sky blue. Around 1987 the shoe is now tagged ‘Montreal II’. The isn’t a great deal of difference between this version and the previous except the shoe now has two tone stripes (silver with navy accents) and an oblong adidas word plate inserted into the lacestay (as on the ‘Samba Super’). The final version of the shoe from 1992 dispenses with the rubber heel support altogether.
1982 catalogue image of the 'D' ring Montreal.
Montreal II from my own collection circa 1987. The place of manufacture has rubbed off the tongue but they have the hallmarks of West Germany production.
'Montreal' from 1992. Without the familiar heel support.
I really like all of the versions of Montreal adidas made, so it’s hard to choose a favourite. To me they epitomise the classic 1970s era of adidas design and production – relatively simple designs, clean looking silhouettes and of course well-made to exacting standards – the Golden Age of adidas.