First shown in 1966, the production of Mangusta started the following year, reaching the number of 402 vehicles manufactured and thus representing the final step of De Tomaso towards the world of high-performance cars (a well-known category in Modena). In 1967 the take-over of Ghia was determining, and prototype 70P became Mangusta. This name is strictly related to that of the contender Ford Cobra since Mangusta is the only animal feared by the cobra.
Equipped with a backbone chassis, a 4729 cc engine - 250 km/h max speed -, Mangusta underwent several changes before the production began. However, Giugiaro's basic layout was maintained. According to the sporting soul of the car, the design was extreme, probably at the expense of the vehicle habitability. Very soon Alejandro De Tomaso realized that Mangusta was the right product to be sold in the United States; as a matter of fact, 250 cars were purchased by American customers. There are two models of De Tomaso Mangusta.
The first is a spider, which throughout many changes due to the owners' wishes has been finally brought back to its original design. 'Raped' by these modifications, the car could hardly be recognized, but its original features were successfully recovered in Modena plant. The second, a unique vehicle as the first model, is a hard-top spider owned by a Greek fan. All Mangusta cars were equipped with Ford engines, except this one ordered by the GM vice-president William L. Mitchell, who sent a Chevrolet engine to Modena. Unfortunately, it was lacking some pieces.
Sent back to Detroit, Mangusta could run thanks to American mechanics' work. All the same, Mitchell could not drive his admired car, as the seat was too small for him (his face was pressed against the driving mirror!). However, this problem did not put an end to the love for such a car, which nowadays is still being studied in General Motors. Manufactured until 1971, Mangusta leveled the ground to Pantera.Source - DeTomaso Modena S.p.A.
Alejandro de Tomaso had many avocations before his career in the automotive world. He was born in Argentina in 1928. His mother family had been wealthy Argentine cattle farmers and his father had immigrated from Italy. By age 15 Alejandro left school to pursue the cattle business. Within a few years he was running the family business and racing on the side. He also provided financial support to an underground newspaper that opposed the president at the time, Juan Peron. His support forced him to flew to Italy to escape political prosecution. While in Italy he began working for Maserati as a mechanic and later became a racer car driver. His passion for racing led him to his wife, a wealthy American lady who was also a race car driver. Within a few years, backed by two prominent families, Alejandro formed his own company, the De Tomaso Automobili. The company focused on building mostly racers which utilized mid-engined placement. His success in racing attracted Ford, who were seating for suitable candidates to utilize their engines. With the design expertise of Ghia and Vignale, Alegandro began producing production vehicles. The first attempt was not as successful as hoped. It was the Vallelunga which was powered by a Ford Cortina engine which produced 100 horsepower. The transmission was courtesy of Volkswagen and the body-shell was comprised of fiberglass. The next attempt at the competitve production automobile market was the Ghia designed Mangusta. It appeared in 1967 and its mid-engined placement and brilliant design made the vehicle instantly popular. The Mangusta was a true sports car, being just 40 inches in height. Aluminum was used for the hood, and gullwing rear deck lids. The rest of the areas were mostly steel. There was seating for two with the seats using the finest leather material available. The engine was powerful enough to carry the car to speeds of over 150 mph. Production lasted from 1967 through 1971 with just over 400 examples being produced.
By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2007