De Tomaso Mangusta

The De Tomaso Mangusta – like most of the De Tomasos of the 1960s – had a difficult struggle to see the light of day, because of the influence of Carroll Shelby and the car manufacturer Ghia.

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De Tomaso experimented with a sports car with central tube frame on Ford V8 base for Carroll Shelby. He designed a mid-engine layout coupé with the chassis of the Vallelunga, which was somewhat reinforced, with a slightly changed Ghia body and a 4.7-liter version of the US Ford engine – with that, the Mangusta was finished. “Mangusta” is the Italian word for the mongoose – a small mammal that is able to defeat venomous cobras. In this case the name “Mangusta” signals that this car should be a serious competitor for Carroll Shelby’s Cobra.

Technically and optically the Mangusta seemed to be a typical Italian sports car, but it was a tamed racing car. The weight balance was anything but good (68% on the rear axle). It had a passenger compartment, which was extremely heated up by the engine, and the windshield was really close to the driver. As in the case of the Vallelunga, the central tube frame seemed to be too soft furthermore the handling was problematic, though the road performance was undisputable.
The body of the Mangusta is worth a look, for example the tailgate which is parted in the middle consisting of two gullwing doors. Designed with great attention to detail and a good workmanship, the Mangusta could have become a sensation at that time. But as it was sold, it was almost uncontrollable in wet conditions and unpleasantly light in the front at high speeds. During the four years of production, only 400 Mangustas were built.

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Photos by Rainer Selzer

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