By on October 26, 2018

The De Tomaso name keeps surfacing in the Rare Rides series, almost as often as BMW. The honorary first mention came via the Chrysler TC by Maserati, followed by the Qvale Mangusta that initially bore the De Tomaso name. Most recently, we featured the Maserati Ghibli, which was the very last new Maserati presented by the man himself, De Tomaso.

Today we step back in time, back to an era before any of those aforementioned Rare Rides were ever considered. Let’s have a look at the very luxurious De Tomaso Longchamp.

Race car driver Alejandro De Tomaso was just 31 years old when he founded the car company bearing his last name. By 1963 the company had a sports car on the road, following up with cars of various underpinnings and intent. Not satisfied with keeping to the sports car segment, De Tomaso set his eyes on the luxury coupe customer. Enter the Longchamp.

Derived from the Deaville sedan De Tomaso already produced, the Longchamp used a shorter chassis but shared its engine, transmission, and suspension components. That meant under hood was a 351 Cleveland V8 from Ford (5.8L), and either a three-speed Ford automatic or five-speed ZF-produced manual. In the front, lamps were sourced from the Euro-market Ford Granada, and the Alfa Romeo 2000 provided the lights at the rear — which your author recognized as the same as on the Monteverdi 375/4.

With his idea for a grand touring luxury coupe now well-formed, De Tomaso turned to legendary Detroit-born designer Tom Tjaarda for exterior design. Tjaarda made a long-term name for himself with his work at both Pininfarina and Ghia. After working on the Longchamp, he’d go on to do smaller design projects like the Chrysler LeBaron, Chrysler Imperial, Saab 900, and the interior of the Lamborghini Diablo.

The Longchamp was introduced at the Turin Motor Show in 1972 and went into production in 1973. Typical of a smaller and more hand-built manufacturer, the production run for the Longchamp was a long one. No updates occurred until the 1980 series two version, which continued with only minor alterations through 1989.

In addition to the standard coupe, convertible and sporty GTS coupe configurations were introduced into the fold. This particular 1979 example was sent from Germany back to Italy in 1990, where it was engineered once more at the De Tomaso factory. Extensive changes turned the standard car into a GTS coupe. It now features the Campagnolo wheels, an automatic transmission breathed upon by Shelby, and a tuned engine with an output of 365 horsepower. De Tomaso himself signed the headrest while it in was there for surgery.

In all those years, just 395 Longchamp coupes emerged from the factory, making the $126,000 ask for this unique example seem not so bad. It perhaps goes without saying, but every model the company manufactured is eligible for a Rare Rides story. More to come.

[Images: seller]

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32 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Very Rare De Tomaso Longchamp From 1979...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Although undoubtedly beautiful (in particular the interior) and desirable, I have a prejudice against De Tomaso vehicles. My childhood hockey hero, Tim Horton died at the age of 44 when he crashed his Pantera on the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW).

    Many of you may recognize his name from the chain of coffee/donut shops that are now emblematic of Canada. For me he will always be #7 for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

  • avatar
    ldl20

    Damn…this car looks like a work of art. Slap a Ferrari or Alfa badge on it, and It would get all the attention in the world. So much cleaner than today’s overwrought designs.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenn

      As soon as I saw it, I longed for at least the choice of a new car – of any badge – with these proportions, especially its glass area offering great outward visibility. I pictured the last Mustang “Notchback,” and imagined Mustang and (especially) Camaro designs reverting to more-practical-for-everyday-use dimensions.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    What a neat find- there are so few of these!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Let us pause to consider what direction Detroit’s PLCs could have taken that might have led to this over the actual history.

    Picture this car as a Buick Rivera and the lines pay a small homage to the 1963-65 original.

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    This is a beautifully designed car. I’ve seen a few panteras in my 35 years, but never one of these. Looks fantastic and sounds like the performance metrics are pretty solid as well.

  • avatar
    Garak

    That’s a beautiful car, very clean lines and functional design. Using a regular Ford engine probably made it very reliable compared to some competitors. Seems like a vehicle you could actually use for daily driving.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Beautiful car, solid drive train, would be a fine addition to anyone’s collection, provided they have the means.

    I’d sure take it over most any other car of its price range of the era.

    Another one I had no idea existed, great find Corey.

    Edit: the first pic kinda reminds me of a mid 1980s Honda Accord sedan, but maybe because a lot of them I’ve seen were in a similar color. Still, the lines (especially on the front 3/4) recall that car. Especially if you had one with the JDM composite headlamps vs the USDM sealed beams. I wouldn’t mind having one of those Accords, they were a handsome sedan for the era IMO.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Verrrrrry nice.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I wonder how this would have done had Ford imported it instead of the Pantera, beautiful car

  • avatar
    Dan R

    Shades of the Mercedes SL?

  • avatar
    CinciDriver

    .

    Wow! As a lover of the “three box” design, and former owner of a ’92 Acura Legend (22 years, over 250,000 miles but after the third [was it the fourth?] blown head gasket I had to give her to the crusher) I *love* this car!

    – Thomas

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    It’s like a Fairmont with an aero kit. The engine even looks right.

    Try to unsee that!

  • avatar
    jfb43

    This thing is so cool and I had no idea it existed until just now.

  • avatar
    s_a_p

    This is one of those cars that make me want to make a bad financial decision and buy more than I can afford. This is peak angular coupe.

  • avatar
    Shawnski

    A near perfect union of American brawn and Italian delicacy. Lee Ioccoca cherished his Italian roots and did a number of deals like this with Ford and later Chrysler. You would be hard pressed to do a better job than this in terms of stout drivetrain, chiseled exterior and sumptuous interior for $126k. Magnifico!

  • avatar
    raph

    Beautiful car! Man De Tomaso loved his 351 Clevelands.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Very cool. Looking at the side profile it is really not all that interesting. But the details set it off. The wheel arches, rims, side vents and subtle dip of the hood all very nice touches that really add character.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    This looks like a Ferrari 400 with a grille.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    Wow, I just love this. The proportions, the greenhouse, the 351C – it just needs the ZF 5-speed. I’m delighted to see a car I did not know on TTAC today. Honestly, I’m surprised that I did not know of the Longchamp’s existence, as I have driving time in my old friend’s 1971 DeTomaso Pantera and we’ve discussed the history of that company more than once. BTW, that car (the Pantera) was not actually very much fun. Quirky handling and poor ergonomics, for starters.


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