Rare Rides: The 2001 Qvale Mangusta, Certainly a Purebred Italian
Technically complicated, Italian designed, and American powered, the Qvale Mangusta mixed together ingredients from two continents into an exotic sports coupe.
But it wasn’t supposed to be called Mangusta, nor was it to wear a Qvale badge. The looks aren’t the only dramatic part of this coupe.
The idea for the Mangusta was conceived in the early 1990s. A man by the name of Giordano Casarini was working for Maserati as a technical director. During some trips to the UK, Casarini saw the then-new TVR Griffith and was quite taken by its style and success. The Griffith was on his mind as he returned to Italy.
Meanwhile, racing legend and car company owner Alejandro de Tomaso was wondering what he might do to create a resurgence for his car company, which had gained fame in the 1970s with models like the Pantera.
De Tomaso was friends with Casarini, and went to him for some advice. Naturally, Casarini suggested that de Tomaso might come up with a similar vehicle to the TVR. De Tomaso liked this idea very much, and immediately began to negotiate a release for Casarini from his day job at Maserati. He was successful.
After the design was underway (via Marcello Gandini of Lamborghini Countach fame), Casarini turned to Ford to supply engines, just as he had done with the Pantera (a 351 cubic-inch V8 in 1971). Ford agreed to supply a Mustang 4.6-liter V8 and the supporting electrics and transmission.
By 1996 a prototype was ready, and it was presented at the Geneva Motor Show as the De Tomaso Biguà. Before development could continue, however, de Tomaso needed some cash. His health was in decline, and an appeal to the Italian government for funding was denied. In comes Qvale.
Kjell Qvale was a North American importer for Maserati vehicles in years past. In 1997 a new company was formed for Mangusta production, Qvale Modena SpA. Kjell’s son Bruce led the project from there on, finding the operation a much-needed production facility.
The production itself ended up being high-tech, with the chassis for each Mangusta being made of laser-cut steel sections. The body consisted of resin panels utilizing the same resin transfer molding technique as the Alfa Romeo SZ and Lotus Elan M100. Gandini developed a unique convertible roof for the Mangusta called a “roto-top.” With this covering, the main roof panel was removed manually, leaving the rear portion of the roof to rotate forward into a space behind the seats.
Ready for introduction in production form, Qvale brought the coupe to the 2000 Los Angeles Motor Show. It was to be the De Tomaso brand’s return to North American shores. Around the same time, de Tomaso himself was working on another project — a new generation of the Pantera.
Qvale got wind of the Pantera idea and, as the present financial backer of De Tomaso, was not pleased. The two parties could not resolve their differences; Qvale cut ties with de Tomaso and put a Qvale name on their coupe. It hit showrooms in early 2000 with a price tag of $78,900. The Mangusta would prove to be de Tomaso’s last car effort, as he passed away in May of 2003 at the age of 74.
Journalistic acclaim followed for the Mangusta, but the car never took off with the general public. Between 2000 and 2002, just 284 cars rolled off the line at Modena. Another company took note of the Mangusta, though. Over in England, MG had a few ideas of its own. In 2000 Qvale had contacted MG about a European distribution deal, but MG wanted more.
By 2001, Qvale and MG had negotiated a deal to sell all Mangusta production assets to the British company. MG started on their new car, and as Mangusta production wound down, MG’s XPower SV was introduced. Also built in Modena, it would remain in production from 2003 to 2005. Qvale has not produced a car since.
Worth noting, just 55 Mangustas were equipped with automatic transmissions, which is what you see here today. Never before have I seen a Mangusta for sale with an automatic.
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- ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
- ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
- Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?