By on April 18, 2019

The Rare Rides series has broached the subject of De Tomaso a few times before. The luxurious Longchamp coupe was accompanied by the Qvale-branded Mangusta, and the tangentially related Chrysler TC.

But today’s De Tomaso takes the cake for rarity over any of those previous Rare Rides. It’s a Guarà Barchetta, from 1995.

Bowing at the 1993 edition of the Geneva Motor Show, the Guarà was intended to be a street legal take on the 1991 Maserati Barchetta Stradale. Said Stradale was a track car, but De Tomaso founder Alejandro De Tomaso didn’t have time to realize his dream of making a road-going version. Maserati was taken over by Fiat in the early Nineties and De Tomaso found himself devoid of control.

Maserati produced 17 total units of the Barchetta; 16 for racing and one for road use. It then dropped the project. However, De Tomaso was not prepared to give up on his vision. He hired the same man who designed the Barchetta to design the Guarà for De Tomaso.

The exterior shell was of composite construction, containing fiberglass, Kevlar, and other lightweight materials. Underneath was a chassis of aluminum. A pushrod F1-style front suspension pared with heim joints at the rear.

The new car was ready for sale in 1994, and De Tomaso (slowly) started production of a few Coupe examples. The earliest cars used a BMW-sourced 4.0-liter V8 producing 279 horsepower. Just one transmission was available: a six-speed Getrag unit.

BMW could not supply the Guarà’s engine forever, as it stopped building the M60 V8 after 1996. De Tomaso called up Ford, which sent over its 4.6-liter Mustang V8 in supercharged format. That engine upped the power to 316 horses.

The Guarà was suited to the performance-driven, hardcore customer, as handling was described as too twitchy for the average driver. There was no power steering or power brakes in sight. Though the interior had leather seating surfaces, there was no space for leather baggage, or indeed storage space of any kind. All of this made for a weight of just 2,646 pounds, and (with BMW engine) acceleration from zero to 60 in five seconds. Top speed was about 170 mph.

Additional inconvenience came with the introduction of the open-top Barchetta model seen here. Only an air deflector directs wind at the front; the driver and passenger must wear a helmet to enjoy their Guarà.

But all was not well at De Tomaso with regard to financial health. The Guarà would indeed be the last project introduced by the company’s founder. Money trouble slowed production, and Guaràs trickled out of Italy through 2006. One last order was taken in 2004, and the final Guarà delivery made to Switzerland in 2011. The De Tomaso brand was already bust by then.

Roughly 50 Guaràs were built: two convertibles, 10 Barchetta models, and the remainder as coupes. Today’s bright blue BMW-powered Barchetta is available in Belgium and asks around $319,000.

[Images: seller]

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