Coach-built by Ghia, the de Tomaso Mangusta was about as chic as a sports car gets. Well, apart from its name … a mangusta being a mongoose. Its body was a sleek lattice-work of lines, slats and shapes. Even the make/model graphics were stylishly scripted.
The Mangusta was on the money technically, too. Its Ford 4.7 V8 motor made 305bhp. Top speed was 250km/h. Released in ’66, just 400 Mangustas were built. 280 of them were sold in the States – no doubt helped by the Ford engine. That was a fair old jaunt from Modena, Italy – mythical melting pot of all things motor racing. A lovely location, then, for Alejandro de Tomaso to have based his workshop.
De Tomaso hailed from Buenos Aires. With a government minister for a father – and an heiress for a mother – it is safe to say young Alejandro was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. It was not long before de Tomaso’s motoring muse came calling – mainly, in the form of Maserati. At 27, he moved to Italy – to pursue a career as a racing driver. He was quick … but not quick enough! So, instead, he set up a supercar company. As a designer – rather than driver – de Tomaso fared much better. Soon, both sports cars and single-seat racers were rolling out of his 'shop. In his youth, de Tomaso had idolised Fangio – the Argentinian race ace. Acolyte would never match master, in that regard. But – in penning cars like the Mangusta – de Tomaso had found his own means of automotive expression. By the way - if you are planning to buy a Mangusta - a word to the wise. Mongooses eat snakes. You’ve been warned!