1965 DeTomaso P70

The 1960s were a fruitful time for Carroll Shelby with his Shelby Cobras and Mustangs, Cooper based King Cobras, and the GT40 program by Ford. To keep his King Cobras competitive, he enlisted the help of Alejandro de Tomaso to construct a new car that could outpace McLaren's rumored 7-liter cars. De Tomaso handled the engineering, the aerodynamic body was created by Peter Brock, and the construction was by Fantuzzi. All of the ingredients, skills, and talents required to make this project a skill was present, however, a number of factors prevailed and only one P70 was completed.

Before Argentina-born Alejandro De Tomaso formed his own company - De Tomaso Automobili in Modena, Italy in 1959 - he drove for Maserati, Scuderia Centro Sud and O.S.C.A. His De Tomaso car company built racing cars and high-performance sports cars with many being equipped with an aluminum backbone chassis. The racing cars were built for Formula Junior, Formula 3, Formula 2 and Formula 1. The first road-going car was the Vallelunga of 1965 and its backbone chassis would provide the basis for the P70, with the V8 engine acting as a fully stressed member, with the suspension components attached directly to the engine and gearbox. At the time, Ford built a 7-liter engine but it was deemed too heavy for the chassis. Ford was unwilling to build the block from lightweight aluminum alloy, so De Tomaso was to provide a highly modified small block 289 Ford engine.

Peter Brock took advantage of the lenient regulations of USRRC and Cam-Am racing in regards to windscreen height, streamlining, and aerodynamics. The design he created was both aesthetically and technically appealing, featuring an adjustable airfoil to minimize drag while keeping the rear end in place. It had a very low wraparound windshield, partially covered rear wheels, subtle curves, and ingenious aerodynamic innovations. The full doors made it eligible for GT-racing. This design was also used to cloth the final King Cobras, known as the Lang Cooper, for Craig Lang and racer Dave MacDonald.

Medardo Fantuzzi of Italy was commissioned to create the body from aluminum using Peter Brock's design. The mock-up chassis was completed in January of 1965 and the finished product was a poor representation and interpretation of Mr. Brock's design. Shelby sent Brock to Italy to personally supervise the construction of the body for the first running car. This time, the body was a more faithful interpretation to Mr. Brock's vision and was applied to a full rolling chassis, with the new car dubbed the DeTomaso P70.

By this point in history, Shelby had withdrawn his support of the project as he focused on helping Ford win at Le Mans with the GT40. De Tomaso found new sponsorship with coach builder Ghia, which led to the car being relabeled to the Ghia de Tomaso prior to its debut at Turin in 1965. The car was shown once more in February of 1966 before being shelved at the de Tomaso factory in Modena, fading into obscurity until 2004.

De Tomaso soon introduced a new road-going car called the Mangusta, meaning mongoose in Italian. With this car, De Tomaso made his grievances and intentions clear, as the mongoose is one of the few natural threats to cobras in the natural world. Clearly, the De Tomaso Mangusta was designed and built to best Shelby and his Cobra.

A second similar example was later built following a similar design and structural layout as the P70. It was called the Sport 5000 with its name derived after its 5-liter engine. The car was entered at the 1966 Mugello 500 km for Roberto Businello but it failed to finish a single lap. It was entered for the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and later at the 1000km Monza but in both cases, never 'toed the line.'

After the passing of Alejandro de Tomaso in 2004, the body panels and components of the original P70 were purchased and assembled into its original guise. It was shown in 2005 at the Quail, a Motorsports Gathering, and again in 2013 at the same event.


by Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2020
Vehicle Profiles
1965 DeTomaso P70 vehicle information

Sport 1000
Designer: Fantuzzi

Chassis Num: P70-001

The Shelby DeTomaso P70 Can Am racer started as a joint venture between Cobra creator Carroll Shelby, American Peter Brock who styled it and Italian coachbuilder Fantuzzi which made the alloy bodywork. DeTomaso designed the backbone chassis and was m....[continue reading]

Sport 1000
Chassis #: P70-001 


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