Showing posts with label De Tomaso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label De Tomaso. Show all posts

De Tomaso Mangusta

De Tomaso Mangusta 1960s Italian classic sports car

Coachbuilt by Ghia, the de Tomaso Mangusta was about as stylish as a sports car gets. Well, apart from its name, that is. A mangusta is a mongoose. Absolutely no offence to mongooses intended, but they are not typically considered the height of chic. Yes, I am sure there are exceptions to that rule. At any rate, so far as the roadgoing Mangusta went, its body was a sleek lattice-work of lines and slats. In like manner, graphics were elegantly scripted.

But the Mangusta was far from all show. It was bang on the money technically, too. The Ford 4.7 V8 engine put out 305bhp. Top speed was 250km/h. Released in ’66, just 400 Mangustas were made. 280 of them were sold in the States. American sales were substantially upped by fitting the Ford V8. The US was a fair old jaunt for the Mangusta, from Modena, Italy – that mythical Mecca of all things motor racing. The perfect location, then, for Alejandro de Tomaso to base his workshop.

De Tomaso hailed from Buenos Aires, Argentina. His father was a government minister – and his mother an heiress. Suffice to say, Alejandro was unlikely to go hungry. It was not long before de Tomaso’s motoring muse came calling – mainly in the shape of Maseratis. At 27, he moved to Italy – to pursue a career as a racing driver. De Tomaso was quick - but not quick enough. So instead, he set up a supercar company ... as you do! As a designer – rather than driver – de Tomaso fared better. Before long, both sports cars and single-seaters were rolling out of his 'shop. In his youth, de Tomaso idolised Fangio – the Argentinian race ace. Acolyte could never match master, in that regard. But – in penning cars like the Mangusta – de Tomaso had found his niche. His own means of automotive expression, you may say. Oh, by the way - if you are thinking about buying a de Tomaso Mangusta, a word to the wise. Never underestimate its performance. Mongooses eat snakes. You’ve been warned!

De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Pantera 1970s Italian classic sports car

Elvis Presley shot his De Tomaso Pantera - when it would not start! 'Pantera' is Italian for panther. To be fair to Presley, he was far from the only owner to lose patience with the car. The Pantera did have a bit of a 'rep'. Build quality - or the lack of it - was a topic which came up a lot. Mainly, in terms of rust and overheating. Then again, 10,000 Panteras were built. They must have had their good points, surely?

Ghia is one of the most illustrious names in coachbuilding. The firm was owned by Alejandro De Tomaso. He was an Argentinian business magnate, who had moved to Italy - home to the design icon. So revered was Ghia that Ford of North America sought to acquire it. De Tomaso did a deal with them. He sold them the rights to Ghia - in return for their distribution of the new Pantera. Ford, of course, had a huge US dealership network. Fittingly, the Pantera was powered by a 5.8-litre Ford V8. The automotive giant signed up to the deal. Not the wisest move, as it turned out. At first, things looked good. In short order, Ford shifted 4,000 units. But then the rot set in. Literally, in some cases! Before long, the Pantera became a liability. Ford were snowed under by customer complaints. By '74, they had had enough. Time was called on any more imports.

But - as indicated by the number of cars made - it was not all bad. The Pantera's top speed, for example, was a more than acceptable 160mph. Handling was excellent - in part on account of its mid-mounted engine. And should anything go wrong with that engine, breakers' yards were full of Ford V8s. As for the car's styling - it was certainly striking! De Tomaso was a maverick. Before the Pantera, he had overseen the Vallelunga and Mangusta. They, too, were one-of-a-kind cars. Later in his career, De Tomaso took over the reins at Maserati and Innocenti. The Pantera stayed in production for 25 years. That suggests that - for all its flaws - the De Tomaso Pantera had a good side. As for Elvis taking a potshot at his ... he was probably just having a bad day!