'The Most Original Car', Salon Privé Concours d'Élégance, 2012 1970 De Tomaso Mangusta Coupé Coachwork by Carrozzeria Ghia Registration no. GEE 5E Chassis no. 8MA-1216
This outstandingly original de Tomaso Mangusta has had only two owners from new and was purchase by the current vendor, award-winning portrait photographer Jonathan Root, directly from the family of the deceased first owner, Alitalia pilot Giancarlo Furiosi.
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.
Introduced in 1967, 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 coachwork featuring 'gull wing' engine covers, 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 Giulia 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, compared with 765 examples of the contemporary Lamborghini Miura, and any Mangusta is extremely rare.
Jonathan Root first encountered a De Tomaso Mangusta at the Goodwood Revival Meeting in 2008 and was immediately smitten. 'I had never seen anything like it before,' he recalled. 'This was the only car I photographed that day.' The fact that the Mangusta was the work of one of Italy's finest automotive stylists struck a chord with Jonathan, who specialises in photographing designers and architects. Searching for Mangustas for sale, he came across the car offered here, 'MA-1216', which was advertised as a one-owner example with 30,000 miles recorded.
The car was in Italy, so with marque specialist Johnny Woods for company, Jonathan flew to Rome in March 2009. Its late owner's son took them to the medieval town of Spoleto to view the car, which was in the garage belonging to the mechanic that had looked after it from new. Johnny began examining the Mangusta and then whispered 'you have to buy this it's so original' and the deal was done. Johnny later remarked that it was the most original Mangusta he had ever seen, a testimony to its unique provenance.
The late owner Giancarlo Furiosi had drunk champagne with Alejandro De Tomaso to celebrate collecting the car from him, so Jonathan and Johnny drank a champagne toast with the family and mechanics. Tragically, Giancarlo had died in 2007 while competing in a mountain race. He had owned a Jaguar E-Type, a Maserati, a Cisitalia and a Cessna light aircraft but had kept only the De Tomaso. A typical Italian, he was obsessed with speed and style. His Argentinian flag key ring comes with car. On the journey back to the UK, the Mangusta was found to be a quiet and comfortable long-distance cruiser, though the original - and bald - Pirelli tyres made it difficult to keep it in a straight line!
Number '357' of the 401 built, '8MA-1216' has been kept in a low-humidity garage since acquisition. The car had been repainted in 1997 in its original colour scheme of Apple Green (see factory records) and since coming to the UK has never required any welded repairs to pass the MoT test. A further 10,000 miles have been covered since 2009, including outings to public events where the Mangusta never fails to attract favourable attention. These include the RAC Club, Pall Mall in 2010, the Auto Italia event at Stanford Hall in 2010 ('Car of the Day') and the prestigious Salon Privé Concours d'Élégance in 2012 where it was voted 'The Most Original Car'.
'8MA-1216' has the four-headlight front end, bucket seats and air conditioning, the latter a vital addition. Other noteworthy original features include its - Mangusta unique - Ferrero steering wheel, carpets, rubber seals and rough-cast Campagnolo magnesium alloy wheels, the spare still shod with its 1970 Pirelli. The car even retains its original tool kit and gold-embossed 1st owner's De Tomaso wallet, this combination of exceptionally rare items almost certainly making it unique. Used only for UK shows, the original Italian number plates are included in the sale.
Maintained by Mangusta expert Johnny Woods, the car benefits from an engine top-end rebuild and overhauled steering and brakes, and has been fitted with a new clutch, new Koni shock absorbers, a hand-built stainless steel exhaust system and B F Goodrich tyres. Upgrades include electronic ignition, a Holley carburettor, safety catches for the 'gull wings', and a protective skid plate for the ZF transaxle. Any original parts removed have been kept.
The three marque registries estimate that there are some 250 Mangustas remaining worldwide, with a total of only eight in the UK comprising both the early 'four headlight' and the later 'pop up' versions. Stunning to look at, exciting to drive and sounding just like a GT40, '8MA-1216' is offered with its original Italian registration papers, current MoT/tax, UK V5C registration document and sundry invoices relating to its recent mechanical overhaul. The apppropriate cherished registration number GEE 5E is also included with the lot. It is said to run 'like a Swiss watch' - driving better than new - and being left-hand drive would be the perfect companion on a fast run to the South of France.