1969 De Tomaso Mangusta Coupé Coachwork by Carrozzeria Ghia Registration no. DNP 246H Chassis no. 8MA542 Engine no. 8MA542
One of the very first supercars, the Mangusta effectively established De Tomaso as a serious automobile manufacturer on its arrival in 1967. Alejandro De Tomaso had begun racing in his native Argentina in 1951 before moving to Italy to drive for Maserati and OSCA, the latter firm having been founded by the Maserati brothers after they sold up. This experience inspired him to form his own company - De Tomaso Automobili - in Modena, Italy in 1959. Racing was the order of the day to begin with, the fledgling firm building cars for Formula Junior, Formula 3, Formula 2 and Formula 1. De Tomaso's first road car - the Vallelunga - did not appear until 1965. A pretty, mid-engined coupé powered by a 1.5-litre Ford four-cylinder engine, the Vallelunga was built in small numbers and was not a success, but did contribute its short-wheelbase, backbone chassis, albeit extensively re-engineered, to the Mangusta. The Mangusta (mongoose) was powered by a mid-mounted 289ci (4.7-litre) Ford V8 engine. Also used to power Ford's GT40 Le Mans challenger, the iconic '289' produced 306bhp as installed in the Mangusta, which also used the GT40's early-type ZF transaxle. Later Mangusta production used the less desirable Ford '302' engine producing only 220bhp, together with a later ZF transmission. Carrozzeria Ghia's Giorgetto Giugiaro contributed the striking gull-wing doored coachwork, which had been intended for Giotto Bizzarrini. There is much in Giugiaro's design that echoes his work when designing the Maserati Ghibli, Iso Grifo, Ferrari 250 Berlinetta Bertone and, of course, the timeless Alfa Romeo Guilia Sprint GT. With 300-or-so horsepower on tap the aerodynamic Mangusta was good for a top speed in the region of 155mph. All-round disc brakes helped restrain this outstanding performance. De Tomaso enjoyed close links with the Ford Motor Company at this time and the American firm helped put the Mangusta into larger scale production than would otherwise have been possible. Nevertheless, only 401 examples were made between 1967 and 1972, and any Mangusta is extremely rare; this example particularly so given that it is one of the first made and therefore has the most sought after specification. Chassis number '8MA542' was built for the European market, for which 150 were made, and not for the USA, which already had Federal emissions and other particular requirements by 1969. It is a rare 'four headlight' model built prior to the standardisation of two 'pop up' headlights for both the European and United States markets, which lasted for the rest of Mangusta production. Very early cars such as this can also be identified by their folding bucket seats, whereas later examples were manufactured with a fixed back. This car also retains its original air-conditioning system, which has been carefully rebuilt to be fully functional, and its European specification instruments. '8MA542' has recorded the exceptionally low figure of only 40,500 kilometres (approximately 25,000 miles) from new and close inspection shows it to be exceptionally original, even down to the 43-year-old slightly threadbare carpet to the driver's foot well! Fortunately and most importantly, the car's well-informed preceding owner avoided the temptation to 'upgrade' its mechanical specification with the many options that became available in the 1970s and '80s. Very few Mangustas avoided upgrading and fewer still have maintained the same degree of originality as this example. With careful ownership throughout its 43 years, the car also benefited from many years spent in the sunny and dry state of Arizona. On arrival in the UK the Mangusta underwent extensive servicing by Newlands Motors (there are bills on file totalling £12,000) and has covered fewer than 100 miles since securing its MoT. The three marque registries estimate that there are only 250 Mangustas remaining worldwide, very few of which are to the first specification outlined above, with a total of only eight in the UK comprising both the early 'four headlight' and the later 'pop up' versions. Finished in black with light tan interior, '8MA542' is stunning to look at, exciting to drive and sounds just like a GT40. The car is offered with its original Owners Handbook and related documentation; current MoT/tax and Swansea V5 registration document.