Updated: Nov 20, 2021
De Tomaso is no doubt one of the coolest automotive manufacturers ever, but why isn’t their name worshiped along with the rest of the revolutionary Italian brands? Was De Tomaso a failure, or were they simply forgotten? In 1959, De Tomaso was created in Modena, Italy by an Argentinean named Alejandro de Tomaso. De Tomaso’s first years in the motoring industry were spent building race cars. It wasn’t until 1963 when they built a car for the road. The car was called Vallelunga, it was a sporty, mid-engined coupe equipped with a Ford inline four. The Vallelunga was designed by Ghia, which De Tomaso later bought out in 1969. De Tomaso’s claim to fame was in 1966 when they produced their second road car: the De Tomaso Mangusta (P70). De Tomaso started the Mangusta project with Shelby, but shortly after the P70 program began, Shelby left to go win Le Mans. Which is why the car’s name was sweet revenge for De Tomaso. Mangusta translates to mongoose in Italian, and the mongoose is the only animal known to take on the cobra and win. De Tomaso assigned the legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro with the task of making pure automotive art, with the greatest design being it’s gullwing opening engine bay. The Mangusta, which arrived one year after the Lamborghini Miura, became another one of the world‘s first super cars. The looks definitely made up for the uncomfortable driving feel and the loud American V8. In the 1970s De Tomaso reached their peak, by creating the legendary sports car known as the Pantera (not the band). The De Tomaso Pantera is the out come of the De Tomaso and Ford collaboration. Italian beauty with American power. Lee Iacocca (head of Ford at the time) developed a plan for De Tomaso to make a mass produced sports car to be sold all over North America. In hopes to eliminate the Corvette‘s market dominance, the Pantera had to look good and go fast. Designer Tom Tjaarda is responsible for the stunning looks. The engine is a 5.8L naturally aspirated Cleveland V8, making around 296bhp. The mid-engine V8 Pantera (Italian for panther) became quite the icon, owned by celebrities such has Jackie Stewart, Tim Horton, and even Elvis Presley. However, the real Devil in disguise was De Tomaso’s Formula one team. De Tomaso had many F1 attempts, each worse than the last. In 1962, De Tomaso raced the 801. Their 801 race car looked great, but didn’t work for F1. The design was found lacking in regards to aerodynamics which caused very pitiful performances. The 801 was featured in only one race, where it failed to qualify. Next, in 1970, De Tomaso’s F1 journey got a little more fatal. The first four races of the season, the car failed to finish. It was the fifth race when it all came to an end. In the early morning of the Dutch Grand Prix, De Tomaso had their fingers crossed that this race would be different. It was in fact different, but not in a good way. The De Tomaso 505/38 race car flipped, caught fire, and killed the driver. That was officially the end for De Tomaso’s tragic F1 Career. De Tomaso’s sports car game still stood strong, producing two more cars: the Longchamp and the Deauville. Fast forward to 1993, De Tomaso finally creates a successor to the beloved Pantera. The De Tomaso Guara was a mid engine V8 sports car and the last De Tomaso before bankruptcy. The Guara was originally equipped with a BMW motor, but the later models had a Ford. The man who started the underdog of the Italian auto industry, Alejandro de Tomaso, passed away in 2003. In 2004 with no hope and no money, De Tomaso entered liquidation. In 2009, Gian Mario Rossignolo purchased the De Tomaso trademark and attempted to bring the auto brand back. Unfortunately, in 2012 he was arrested for the misuse of government funds. In 2014, a company from Hong-Kong bought De Tomaso, but what good could ever happen? De Tomaso is already forgotten. That was until 2019 when De Tomaso suddenly and surprisingly revealed plans for a new Hyper car. Present day, De Tomaso is slowly creating their new hyper car they call the P72. From their peak, to bankruptcy, De Tomaso was underrated. Everyone knows Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Alfa Romeo. Why not De Tomaso? I think it‘s time for a change. It’s time for a comeback.
Fun Fact #1:
De Tomaso owned Maserati from 1976-1993.
Fun Fact #2:
The name De Tomaso comes from the Argentinian cattle brand, which is why the “T” logo represents a cow and the blue and white represent the Argentinian flag.
What’s your favorite De Tomaso? Feel free to comment!
My favorites are the Mangusta and the Longchamp.
Thanks for reading, have a great day and be safe. #detomaso