Rare Rides: The 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta - Building a Brand
Rare Rides has covered a few De Tomaso vehicles in past, but today’s Italian classic predates all those presented thus far. From 1970, it’s the second car ever offered by its parent brand, and the first model which was produced in a mass quantity of over 100 vehicles.
Let’s learn about the Mangusta.
The Mangusta was successor to De Tomaso’s very limited production introductory model, the Vallelunga. Produced from 1964 to 1968, just 53 examples exited the factory in Turin. Part of the reason so few cars were produced was that De Tomaso didn’t want to make his own cars. After the Vallelunga was designed by Fissore, De Tomaso planned to sell it on to a third party for production. However, nobody took the bait, so he farmed out production to Ghia instead. And a new car brand was formed.
De Tomaso’s second product entry was a bit more intentional. Given the company’s ongoing relationship, De Tomaso hired Ghia to design the Mangusta. Penning its shape was the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro. The new car was a long time in development, as a completed prototype was shown in 1965 at the Turin Motor Show and displayed as the Sport 5000. De Tomaso was so interested in Ghia and its work that he purchased the company in 1967; right around the time the Mangusta entered production. Surely the move was an economical one, ending the contract work between the two firms.
As might be expected, the donor chassis for the Mangusta came from the Vallelunga. The steel platform saw extensive reinforcements , as the Mangusta was larger, heavier, and much more powerful than its predecessor. The production Mangusta was a unique design amongst its competitors, given it featured very unusual gullwing doors for the hood. The rest of the body’s design was more typical of a Seventies Italian super car.
Power was familiar enough: European examples used Ford’s HiPo 289 (4.7L) V8, while American ones suffered with a larger 302 (4.9L) engine from the Mustang. The difference in power was considerable, as Europeans had 306 horses underfoot while Americans made do with 230. Unfortunately, later versions for all nations employed the 302.
In use as a car, the Mangusta was a pretty flawed ride. Its weight distribution was poor, 32/68 front/rear, which made for some interesting handling. The unbalanced weight combined with a compromised chassis. Though De Tomaso reworked the chassis for Mangusta use, nothing could hide its original lightweight sports car intentions (the Mangusta weighed a whopping 1,300 pounds more than the Vallelunga).
Still, Mangusta stayed in production through 1971, and a full 401 examples made their way out of Turin. By then, De Tomaso was ready with a prime time successor. It was the coupe the company is now known for: Pantera.
Today’s Rare Ride is glorious in metallic light green. For sale in Germany, it asks $354,000.
Dukeisduke on May 19, 2020
I've long been a fan of the Mangusta. Chasing Classic Cars (Season 15, Episode 9) recently featured the restoration of a '69 Mangusta for Dave Robinson, the drummer for The Cars. Robinson had bought the car 20 years earlier, snapping it up from a buyer that had planned to heavily modify the car for some kind of racing. He had never driven the car (had only heard it run once, when he bought it), and had kept it in storage. The bodyshell was in remarkably good shape, with very little rust, and very little prior bodywork done on it.
Eng_alvarado90 on May 19, 2020
Yesterday my in-laws gave me an old book titled "Automobile Quarterly's World of Cars" , dated 1971. A red De Tomaso Mangusta is one of the 200 cars featured on that book (which also featured Studebakers, Packard, RR, Cord, Chevy, Chrysler among others). A 0-60 of 5.9 seconds with the 289 and 155 mph top speed sounds great for the time, but the American version with the 302 only did 7 seconds flat and 120 mph top speed. A 5 spd ZF transmission was the best you could get back then. It sounds like a real sports car to me
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