|De Tomaso Modena S.p.A.|
De Tomaso Modena S.p.A. is an Italian car manufacturing company.
The company was founded by the Argentinian-born Alejandro de Tomaso (1928–2003) in Modena in 1959.
Originally, De Tomaso produced various prototypes and racing cars, including a Formula 1 car for Frank Williams's team in 1970.
De Tomaso sports cars
De Tomaso's first road-going production model was the Vallelunga, introduced in 1963. This striking mid-engined sports car was propelled with a 104 bhp Ford Motor Company Cortina engine, and had a top speed of 215 km/h. It featured an aluminium backbone chassis, which was to become De Tomaso's technological trademark, and fibreglass bodywork.
The first De Tomaso produced in anything like significant numbers, the Mangusta, introduced in 1966, was also the first to be developed in association with Ford, a firm which was to have a decisive influence on De Tomaso's early life.
With the Mangusta De Tomaso moved from European to American Ford engines; powered by a 4.7-litre iron-block V8 engine and with steel and aluminium coupé bodywork from Ghia an Italian coachbuilder also controlled by Alejandro de Tomaso the De Tomaso Mangusta could more than compete with contemporary Ferraris and Lamborghinis on looks, if not on cachet. With its flowing panels and almost absurdly raked rear window, the Mangusta was a true Italian supercar. About 400 examples were built until production ended in 1971.
The Mangusta was succeeded by the Pantera, the car that was to put De Tomaso on the map if only briefly. It appeared in 1970 with a 5.8-litre Ford V8 and a low, wedge-shaped body designed by Ghia's Tom Tjaarda. Though less visually arresting than the Mangusta, the Pantera looked set to vault De Tomaso into the ranks of the supercar giants. Through an agreement with Ford, De Tomaso sold Pantera's in the USA through Ford's Lincoln and Mercury dealers.
Between 1970 and 1973, 6,128 Pantera's were produced in Modena, dwarfing the intensity of any De Tomaso production runs before or since. Sadly for the firm (and for American supercar fans), the poor quality of the Italian steel of the time combined with the oil crises of the early 1970s to cause Ford to pull out of the Pantera deal at the end of 1973. (Other supercars of the same era, such as the wikipedia:Frua-bodied AC 427 and 428, were to cease production completely for the same reason.)
After its brief flowering as a mass-production car, the Pantera settled down during the 1970s and into the 1980s as an ordinary, small-production but 'invisible' Italian supercar. This was a shame, as it combined the Mangusta's sound mechanicals and (almost as) striking looks with a larger engine and a more luxurious interior. Price-wise, it could also blow its rivals from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Iso out of the water.
Pantera production continued at a greatly reduced scale, incorporating a wikipedia:Marcello Gandini facelift and engine tweaking in 1990, until it was finally phased out in 1993 to make way for the radical, carbon-fibre bodied wikipedia:Guarà.
De Tomaso luxury cars
Although car enthusiasts know De Tomaso principally as a maker of high-performance sports cars, the firm also produced luxury coupés and saloons albeit in tiny numbers throughout the 1970s and '80s.
The 1971 Deauville was De Tomaso's attempt at a rival to contemporary Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz saloons. With the same engine as the Pantera but mounted in the front, the Deauville was clothed in an angular but elegant Tjaarda/Ghia four-door body which had more than a hint of the Jaguar XJ6 about it, and came with the leather-and-air-con trim level that might be expected in such a car.
The Deauville did not have a hope of competing with its rivals, especially those from Germany, on the quality of its build, but it blew them out of the water on rarity-appeal despite remaining on De Tomaso's books until 1988, only about 300 were ever made. The ultimate rare Deauville is the single example of an estate, built for Alejandro de Tomaso's wife.
1972 saw the introduction of a coupé based on the Deauville, the Longchamp. Mechanically this was essentially the same car the Longchamp used a slightly shortened Deauville chassis and had the same Ford V8 engine. The squarer, flatter body, however, was substantially different, without the Deauville's flowing lines.
In 1976, Alejandro de Tomaso, with the assistance of the Italian government, took over Maserati when its owner, Citroën, refused any longer to prop the loss-making company up. The first 'new' Maserati that the De Tomaso regime introduced, the Kyalami, was in fact a mildly reskinned Longchamp with the Ford engine replaced by Maserati's own 4.2-litre V8.
The two cars, outwardly identical except for their badges, grilles and headlights, remained in production until 1983, when the Kyalami was superseded by the genuinely new Maserati Biturbo, introduced two years earlier. The Longchamp trickled on until 1989. Just 395 Longchamp coupés and 14 convertibles were built. Total Kyalami production was even lower, at just 198.