In 1963, when Ferruccio Lamborghini had barely established the Lamborghini brand in Sant’Agata Bolognese, De Tomaso had already launched its first road-going production model. The Vallelunga arrived four years after Alejandro de Tomaso founded the new brand in Modena, starting what would soon become one of Italy’s most celebrated supercar companies. In 1966, De Tomaso introduced the Mangusta, its first model to be produced in significant numbers.

Like the Vallelunga, the Mangusta also sported a mid-engine configuration. However, the Italians dropped the four-cylinder engine borrowed from the Ford Cortina in favor of a more powerful V-8, sourced from the first-generation Mustang. The chassis, on the other hand, was based on the Vallelunga’s and modified to handle powerplants with higher torque.

The car’s name, Mangusta, is Italian for mongoose, a small animal known for its quickness, and its ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, particularly cobras. Legend has it that the car was named the Mangusta because De Tomaso had some talks with Carroll Shelby to replace the 1963 Shelby Cobra with a race car to be built in Italy by De Tomaso, but the project ended in 1965, when Shelby was assigned to help with the development of the 1964-1969 Ford GT40.

The Mangusta was replaced in 1971 by the 1971-1991 De Tomaso Pantera, which would become De Tomaso’s most popular model, with over 7,000 units built in 20 years. But despite being overshadowed by the Pantera, the Mangusta is now considered a collectible as one of the very few European cars to feature American power.

Continue reading to find out more about the De Tomaso Mangusta.

  • 1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta
  • Year:
    1967- 1971
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V8
  • Transmission:
    5 speed ZF transaxle
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    221
  • Displacement:
    4.9 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Price:
    350000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta High Resolution Exterior
- image 564270

Like most supercars from that era, the Mangusta was stunning to look at. Even though the lines were clean and simple, as opposed to say the Lamborghini Miura’s, the Mangusta showcased a new and powerful stance that would soon become the norm with Italian mid-engined cars.

Even though the lines were clean and simple, as opposed to say the Lamborghini Miura's, the Mangusta showcased a new and powerful stance that would soon become the norm with Italian mid-engined cars.

Both ends lacked standard bumpers and most of the front fascia consisted of a rectangular grille, quad headlamps, and small turn signals in the apron. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro while he was working at Ghia, the Mangusta had a sloping nose due to the front hood extending over the upper section of the front fascia.

But Giugiaro’s unique feature for the Mangusta was located at the rear in the form of gullwing-style engine doors. While this was innovative by design, it only provided access to half the engine bay at a time, which is probably why the Mangusta was the first and last production car with such a feature.

Around back, the Italian supercar showcased a short deck, chrome-trimmed taillights, and four large exhaust outlets.

The car received few modifications throughout its production cycle. Notable changes include a batch of around 50 models produced with two pop-up headlamps for the U.S. market in 1970. Also, all U.S.-spec models featured slightly different taillights with red turn signals.

Interior

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta High Resolution Interior
- image 564268

The interior of the Mangusta was rather spartan, but in line with vehicles of the era, which lacked many of the amenities you get nowadays. The dashboard, although packed with numerous gauges and switches, was simple and featureless. The same goes for the leather-wrapped center console and door panels. The three-spoke steering wheel was part wood, part leather. The sporty seats were also swathed in leather, while every inch of the floor was covered in soft carpet and De Tomaso-branded mats. Power windows and air conditioning were standard features. Unlike most supercars of the era, the Mangusta was available with various interior colors, including black, cream and light brown.

Drivetrain

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta Drivetrain
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The Mangusta was offered with two engines, both supplied by Ford. The European models featured a 4.7-liter V-8 with 302 horsepower and 411 pound-feet of twist, while U.S. versions crossed the pond to North America with a 5.0-liter V-8 rated at 230 horses and 310 pound-feet of torque. Both units were linked to a five-speed manual transmission that routed the power toward the rear wheels.

The European models featured a 4.7-liter V-8 with 302 horsepower and 411 pound-feet of twist, while U.S. versions crossed the pond to North America with a 5.0-liter V-8 rated at 230 horses and 310 pound-feet of torque.

As you might have already guessed, the Euro-spec Mangusta was the quicker of the two. The 302 horses enabled it to hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. The U.S.-spec model, on the other hand, reached the benchmark in 6.4 seconds before topping out at the same 155 mph. Estimated fuel consumption was 13.3 and 15 mpg, respectively.

Not all Mangustas were fitted with Ford engines though. One car was built with a Chevrolet engine for GM vice president Bill Mitchell, who obviously couldn’t have a supercar with a Ford powerplant.

Mitchell sent De Tomaso a 5.4-liter V-8 small-block with 350 horsepower. Interestingly enough, before reaching a deal with Ford, De Tomaso asked Chevrolet to provide V-8 engines for the Mangusta. Knowing that the Mangusta would compete against the Corvette, Chevy said no.

The Mangusta was also equipped with independent suspension, disc brakes at all four corners and rack and pinion steering, features that weren’t very common on production cars in the late 1960s. However, due to its 32/68 weight distribution and less than rigid chassis, the Italian car suffered from stability problems and poor handling.

Type Ford 289 V8 Ford 302 V-8
Output 302 HP 230 HP
Torque 411 LB-FT 310 LB-FT
Transmission 5-speed ZF transaxle 5-speed ZF transaxle
0 - 60 MPH 4.9 s 6.4 s
Top speed 155 MPH 155 MPH

Racing History

Though De Tomaso had no intention of taking the Mangusta racing, a group of privateers modified the car for motorsport events. Between 1973 and 1976, race-spec Mangustas entered nine events across the U.S., including the 6 Hours Mid-Ohio, 200-mile Road Atlanta, and 200-mile Talladega. Unfortunately, the Mangusta’s never managed to finish higher than 15th. A Mangusta was supposed to race at the 1973 12 Hours of Sebring in the GTO class, but the car never made it to the starting grid.

Prices

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta High Resolution Exterior
- image 564272

When launched in 1967, the Mangusta retailed from $11,150 before options. De Tomaso built 401 examples — 150 were sold in Europe and 251 shipped to North America. About 250 Mangustas are known to still exist.

Though it’s not as expensive as other supercars from the 1960s, the Mangusta is a relatively sought-after collectible, especially in Europe. In 2015, a 1969 model was auctioned for €168,000 by RM Auctions in Paris, while a 1968 model changed owners for €235,200 at Villa Erba. The record for the most expensive Mangusta sold at auction was established in 2014 at Monaco, when a 1969 model fetched €268,800.

Competitors

1966-1974 Lamborghini Miura

1966 - 1969 Lamborghini Miura
- image 318175

Launched in 1966, the Lamborghini Miura is widely considered to have initiated the mid-engined supercar trend. Unlike the Mangusta, the Miura was powered by an in-house 4.0-liter V-12 engine. At first, the mill cranked out 345 horsepower, but it was later updated to 365 horses in the Miura S and 380 horsepower in the 1971-1972 Lamborghini Miura SV. The latter was the fastest production car in the world in 1971, achieving top speeds of around 170 mph. The SV needed 5.7 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start, and 14.3 ticks to complete the quarter-mile.

Nowadays one of the most sought-after supercars built in the 1960s, the Miura can easily fetch more than $500,000 at auction. The SV is the most expensive — mostly due to its small production run and high-output V-12 — with mint-condition examples changing owners for around $2 million. In 2014, a beautifully restored Miura SV was sold for $2,090,000 at an RM Auctions event in Monterey, California.

Read more about the Lamborghini Miura here.

1967-1973 Maserati Ghibli

1967 - 1973 Maserati Ghibli Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 501893

Also designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Ghia, the Ghibli arrived in 1967 as a front-engined grand tourer. It’s design was somewhat similar to the Mangusta’s, featuring a shark-shaped nose and a sloping roofline. However, the long hood and pop-up headlamps set it apart from both the De Tomaso and the Miura.

Motivation came from a 4.7-liter V-8 rated at 310 horsepower, mated to either a five-speed manual or a three-speed automatic. A more powerful Ghibli SS model was released with a 4.9-liter V-8 and 330 horsepower. This model needed 6.8 seconds to hit 60 mph and had a top speed of 155 mph. Unlike the Miura and the Mangusta, the Ghibli was also offered as a convertible. A restored Ghibli SS can set you back up to $400,000.

Find out more about the Maserati Ghilbi here.

1968-1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona

1968 - 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB4
- image 321346

Developed as a successor to the 275 GTB/4, the 365 GTB/4, unofficially known as the "Daytona" after Ferrari’s 1-2-3 finish at the 1967 24 Hours of Daytona with the 330 P3/4, launched in 1968 and quickly became regarded as Maranello’s main weapon against the Lamborghini Miura and the Maserati Ghibli. The Daytona was actually very similar to the Maserati, employing the same 2+2 seating configuration and a front-mounted engine.

Power came from a 4.4-liter V-12 featuring six Weber twin carburetors and a five-speed manual transmission. The engine generated 352 horsepower, enabling the Daytona to hit 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 174 mph. Unlike the other supercars in this comparison, the Daytona was also a successful race car, obtaining GT class wins in the 1972, 1973 and 1974 24 Hours of Le Mans. As with many Ferraris, the Daytona is quite expensive nowadays, changing owners for up to $1 million.

Read more about the Ferrari Daytona here.

Conclusion

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta High Resolution Exterior
- image 564271

Grated, De Tomaso cars aren’t as valuable as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Maseratis nowadays. Not even as much as the Pantera, which was built in significantly larger numbers and had a lifespan of two decades, longer than any other Italian supercar. However, the Mangusta remains a important part of the "Italian muscle car" breed, alongside the 1963-1975 Iso Grifo, 1965 Bizzarrini 5300 GT, and the Monteverdi Hai 450.

The fact that the Mangusta is significantly more affordable than other supercars from the era is actually a good thing. Giugiaro’s design is as exotic as they get and power is not that bad for a car that weighs in at around 2,800 pounds. And besides, 1960s supercars aren’t the type of vehicles you’d race at the Nurburgring or Laguna Seca too often. But you get a fancy engine hood besides that gorgeous design and Mustang/Cobra engine.

  • Leave it
    • * Significantly less appealing than the Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the era
    • * Poor handling and stability
    • * Hard to find in mint condition

Press Release

Thanks to a seriously destructive bent, the mongoose is illegal in the USA. Which is ironic, given that the De Tomaso Mangusta, an example of which shortly comes to auction in Surrey, was named after the creature and gave the supercar establishment of the day a run for its money in North America in the late ‘60s.

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta High Resolution Exterior
- image 564270

Of the 401 examples of the De Tomaso Mangusta (‘mongoose’ in Italian) that were built during its four-year lifespan from 1967, over 250 were sold in the USA. One of these - a superbly-presented 1969 example - recently left its former Californian home bound for UK shores and is now one of the premier consignments on offer at Historics late summer sale at Brooklands Museum on Saturday, August 30th, at an estimate of £210,000 - £245,000.

The Mangusta was the brainchild of Argentinian racing driver, Alejandro de Tomaso, whose move to Italy prompted the development of his own competition machinery before he turned his talents to creating road cars, the Mangusta being his first.

Penned by Italian styling maestro Giorgetto Giugiaro, and built by Turin’s legendary coachbuilder Ghia, the credentials of the stunningly-elegant Mangusta are impeccable. It’s timeless design is a tribute to Giugiaro’s work from any angle, its diminutive stance - just 3” more than the Ford GT40 - adding to the drama, as are the spectacular gullwing doors over the engine bay.

But the cream on the cake for USA enthusiasts was the fitment of all-American V8 muscle to power the mid-engined Mangusta. Not only did it create instant empathy Stateside but it also guaranteed that keeping a Mangusta on the road would cost a fraction of the alternative Italian exotica of the day.

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta High Resolution Exterior
- image 564271

Now registered the UK, the two-owner-from-new, red Mangusta offered by Historics is in magnificent condition, inside and out, cosmetically and mechanically. Its 4.9 litre Ford V8, mated to a five-speed ZF gearbox, bursts into life in an instant, and the host of documentation stretching back over 30 years underlines the enormous degree of professional care that has been consistently devoted to all aspects of the car. Despite the racing DNA courtesy of its creator, the car is well-equipped with a grey leather interior and, significantly, air conditioning was fitted as standard.

With an estimated 250 examples remaining worldwide, exclusivity is assured and with values raising fast, this very original De Tomaso Mangusta represents a rare opportunity to acquire an exquisite and very drivable supercar and own a surefire investment.

1967 - 1971 De Tomaso Mangusta High Resolution Interior
- image 564268

Valued at £210,00-£245,000, the Mangusta is certain to attract significant international interest as it comes to sale within an eclectic mix of a record 160 fine classic motor cars at Historics’ late summer sale at Brooklands Museum, near Weybridge, Surrey on Saturday, August 30th, with viewing the previous day.

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