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Saturday, July 30, 2011

DeTomaso Mangusta

by Miguel Caparros
The Classics DeTomaso Mangusta 1967-1971 See the Video
The DeTomaso Mangusta was the predecessor to the now very famous Pantera of 1971. Although the cars are very similar, the Mangusta and the Pantera shared very few parts. DeTomaso had figured out early on that there was no way his small company could tool up to build exclusive engines and transmissions for his car lines. He instead decided to explore the limits of design and engineering that were to bold for Ferrari and Maserati who were the established exotic car manufacturers and at this point conservative in design and innovation. Innovation can sometimes lead to great success or to disaster, DeTomaso was chastised for the handling of his cars as was Lamborghini's first mid engine car the Miura. A few exotic tuners and I were able to tame the snap over steer problems with slight geometry changes to the suspension and by increasing the the rear tire foot print of these cars.

DeTomaso had decided to get a major automotive manufacturer to supply him with a light weight v8 to take his creations out of the realm of the limited production Four cylinder cars he had been building to becoming a manufacturer of thousands of high performance cars instead of hundreds.

The Shelby connection. In 1964/65 Shelby was looking for a replacement for his mid engine sports racing car, the King Cobra. Perhaps a relationship forged during their professional racing days from when both DeTomaso and Shelby were racing drivers led Shelby to consider using a version of the backbone chassis of DeTomaso's light weight Vallenlunga sports car. The relationship led to Shelby supplying DeTomaso with his high performance version 289 cid engine from Ford. The Shelby version of the 289 as used in the Cobras put out a very strong 306 horsepower. With additional Shelby modifications the 289 could put out as much as 400 hp.This power plant made the Mangusta a very serious performance car. The US version came with the 225 hp engine, and I am certain that the these engines were either modified or replaced with the more powerful versions by their owners. I can not find any facts as to how many cars were delivered with the 289 or the 302 cid engine. Just over 400 Mangusta's were produced and it is said that fewer than 200 survive today 
Check out additional related links for this story.
The Mangusta body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro while he worked for Ghia.
Shelby's focus was drawn away from DeTomaso when Ford asked Shelby to take over the Ford GT 40 development.
Argentine born Alejandro DeTomaso Founder of DeTomasa Automobili SpA Modena Italy. Designer and manufacturer of sports and luxury cars from 1959 to present. 

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