Thursday, April 01, 2010

COTD 1 - De Tomaso Mangusta

It'd be easy for the first Car Of The Day to pick something like the Lamborghini Miura SV or the Ferrari 250 GT SWB and don't worry, I'll probably be getting to both. But in the true spirit of the underdog I'm going for this awesome creation: the De Tomaso Mangusta.

De Tomaso are better known for the successor to the Mangusta; the Pantera (yes, that is where Anselmo and pals got their bandname). Fortunately, the Mangusta wasn't around long enough to sprout the bulges, skirts, wings and general penis-pump paraphernalia of the Pantera and let's be thankful. According to Wikipedia, around 400 of these cars were built, so these are rarer than the proverbial rocking horse shit. In fact, even after years of trailing car shows as a pre-pubescent, I am fairly sure I have never seen one in the flesh*

Named after the Mongoose (the only animal able to eat a Cobra - no coincidence), this prime example of short-gestation-from-designer's-cigarette-packet-to-production-car was designed by the splendid Giorgetto Giugiaro and made between 1967 and 1971. It seems to have been a bit of an influence on the AMC AMX/3 and the Delorean that came after it (the latter also designed by Giugiaro and sharing the gullwing-door design). Not to mention the Monteverdi Hai and the Maserati Bora.

It had a Ford V8 in the middle and it went how it looked: like a jet plane... in the sense that anything over 3 figures on the speedo and you'd need take-off lights due to it's almost 70/30 weight distribution rear to front. Like the Lamborghini Miura, it might have looked bad-ass but it really didn't get along with wind or corners very well.

Like it matters. Look at the thing. Like the Ford GT40 (and to a lesser degree the Lamborghini Espada), it manages to straddle a perfect line between the futuristic Italian designs of the time and the aggressive brutishness of American muscle cars. The gullwing boot doors are insane. I know for a fact that Giugiaro was 28 when he penned the Mangusta but I prefer to think instead of him as being around the age of 12 when he came up with the design and that the board meeting presentation went something like this:

Giorgetto (small child): "The engine is in the back under this huge glass window. So you can see it"
Suit (approx 45 yrs old) : "Why?"
Giorgetto: "Because it looks cool"
Suit: "How does the boot open?"
Giorgetto: "Like this..." (demonstrates glass gullwing-hinged boot doors on a model)
Suit: "Erm... how do you actually get access to the engine with the hinge for the doors running across it?"
Giorgetto: "Shut up"
Suit: "Also, it appears to only be 40 inches high. How will we build this and give the occupants enough head room?"
Giorgetto: "Shut up"

And so on.

It's barely higher than the height of the tyres, the rear wheels seem to intrude on the design making it look it's crouching as do the double lamps on the front (changed on some later US models to pop-ups unfortunately), partially hidden under the bonnet lip to give it the look of being permanently hunched forward like it's moving at speed even when it's stationary. Put simply, it's very, very cool. It's not aged so badly either.

According to the excellent Mangusta International website (run by the very definition of the word "enthusiast") under half of the production run still exist. The rest presumably ended up buried in a tree or under several hundred gallons of firehose water at the side of the freeway while the owner (imagine him in mirrored RayBans, smoking) phones his insurance company. Which is what supercars should be about: lunacy.

Value now: $100,000 ish

Pub quiz trivia fact: Kylie Minogue is driving a Mangusta in the video to Can't Get You Out Of My Head. It's also featured in the movie Kill Bill.


(Click the pictures to go to the source)


Terekhova said...

This may not help your passions, for which I apologise in advance.

Chris Summerlin said...