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1966 De Tomaso Mangusta, a mongoose to kill the Cobra

Photo courtesy of Artcurial

The origin of the De Tomaso Mangusta

In 1964, Shelby funded a race car, called P-70, to be built by De Tomaso for the 1st 1966 Can-Am. Alejandro de Tomaso was supposed to develop it with a collaborative team sent by Shelby, and build 5 cars but couldn’t make it by the deadline. Carroll Shelby signed a contract with Ford to develop GT-40 for Le Mans and eventually cancelled the contract with De Tomaso in late 1965 which offended De Tomaso, but didn’t prevent him from finishing his car together with the designer Pete Brock who was sent by Shelby but didn’t leave the project. Alejandro had Ghia build a body for his single race car and had it displaced at the Turin Motor Show in November 1965 under the name Ghia De Tomaso Sport 5000.

Later he started to develop a road car based on P-70 to replace the faulty model Vallelunga and to compete with Shelby Cobra. Still annoyed with Shelby, he named the car after an animal that kills cobras, Mangusta, which is the Italian for mongoose. The body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and built by Ghia. The De Tomaso Mangusta was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in November 1966 and targeted not just the European market, but mainly the U.S. At the time, Ford was also looking for a less expensive high-performance alternative for the road version of GT-40 MK3 to be sold in Europe. In 1968 a De Tomaso Mangusta was sent to Ford headquarters in Dearborn, badged as Shelby MkV, which was admired by them and Ford decided to fund a prototype which was later produced by the name Pantera.

Photo courtesy of Artcurial

Tecnical specifications

The De Tomaso Mangusta was built on a tubular chassis with a mid-engine layout, featuring an all independent suspension with wishbone and coil springs equipped with anti-roll bar in the front & rear. It was powered by 2 Ford V8 engine types, both naturally aspirated using 2 overhead valves/cyl. The more powerful Ford-289 used for the Europe version, which was also used in 1966 Shelby GT-350, could produce 306hp while the Ford-302 American version could produce only 220hp. Using a 5-speed ZF gearbox, it was delivered to rear wheels which, for the first time in a production car, had different size from the front wheels. So could it kill the Cobra?

With an Italian design, gullwing hood, aerodynamic and stylish body, 4 disk brakes & much sportier look, Mangusta was also expected to have a great performance esp. due to the superb suspension & mid-engine layout, but it proved to be underdeveloped. With a weight distribution ratio of 32/68, the light front faced lifting in cornering causing under-steering. On the other hand, the chassis frame didn’t seem so firm and tended to bend sometimes causing over-steering. Briefly, it was unpredictable and unstable and hard to control. With around 500kg more weight and a less powerful engine it was not faster than Cobra either, so the mongoose was beaten by the cobra. Not so successful, totally 401 units were built, around 150 for Europe and 250 for the U.S market plus a special one with a Corvette engine for Bill Mitchell, General Motors Vice President. 50 units built as 1970 U.S models featured 2 pop-up headlights.

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Celebrating 115 years of Carrozzeria Garavini, the brand sees its rediscovery and relaunch in the world of cars, design and elegance.

At Garavini, craftsmanship, manufacture and uniqueness come together to create works of art on wheels that go beyond the concept of a simple means of transport to become symbols of passion and refinement.

115 years after its foundation, the company has decided to start again with the Alfa Romeo 4C, in the 10th anniversary year of the model’s presentation, in collaboration with the IAAD in Turin. This partnership between the historic brand and the design institute represents an opportunity to create a high-end sports car that combines outstanding Italian aesthetics with the best technologies.

Poltu Quatu immediately turned out to be the ideal location for the premiere of the project, thanks to the famous Concours d’Elegance which, as the perfect combination of worldliness, elegance and the joy of living the dolce vita, allows the meeting from all over the world of those enthusiasts who, more than anyone else, can appreciate the value and style of a vision such as Garavini’s.

The project takes its inspiration from the 1930s Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 by Garavini, the star of the Italian Dolce Vita and the birth of the classic car movement in Italy. The Garavini Perenne represents an extraordinary sports car that combines the Italian tradition of elegance and style with innovation and high quality craftsmanship. Garavini’s tribute to the model, the 4C, which, with its debut 10 years ago, decreed the real relaunch of Alfa Romeo, is no coincidence: symbolic value, as happens in all valuable initiatives, has a decisive weight in the conception and realisation of unique products.

The soul of the project is Luca Babbini, a young entrepreneur with experience in research and development for various industries, in particular the automotive industry. Babbini’s path, which started at IAAD and has been refined through subsequent collaborations, has always been linked to a passion for luxury, not so much as a material passion, but derived from the emotion that an object or an experience conveys.

“When I crossed Garavini’s path,” explains Luca Babbini, Garavini Design Director, “with family origins and values that can be traced back to mine, I thought it was a sign: the awareness of this affinity has allowed us to give life to a new chapter, a reality in which passion for craftsmanship, luxury and family heritage come together. The Garavini Perenne will be an opportunity to enhance the Turin area but in an international key, thanks to the freshness and desire to do that only a young team, such as that of Garavini and that of the IAAD master’s degree course in Transportation Design, can guarantee.”

On 8 July on the occasion of the Poltu Quatu Classic, a preview of the concept on which the students of the IAAD master’s course in Transportation Design are working, reasoning and declining the Garavini values of elegance and attention to detail, aimed at creating a modern classic with a first series of 15 examples, which aspires to become a timeless model, a source of inspiration for the present and the future. The lines are classic, inspired by a sporty use that smells of fresh air and speed. Driving pleasure is at the heart of the design with a set-up dedicated to usability on the road as well as on the track.

Again Luca Babbini: ‘The valorisation of young people is a key aspect of the project: it always seems, in the common narrative, that unreachable challenges and moments of continuous crisis await us, but the future is full of opportunities and style and beauty are not a closed chapter. The creation of new classics is the true ambition of a project, which looks to the future aware of its past but with the confidence that it can still make a difference. The Turin area, then, is rich in excellent craft realities with which to create synergies and develop a true pole of high craftsmanship. There is nothing to stop us from looking beyond the automotive field and broadening the declination of our values with incursions into other sectors… in short, there is a lot to build on, and the Garavini lifestyle begins today with Garavini Perenne.

The result of this partnership is a high-end compact sports car with a sculptural aesthetic design. Garavini is committed to satisfying a discerning international audience that appreciates the art of automotive design and Italian craftsmanship. The ability to excite both long-time enthusiasts and new customers is a challenge Garavini sets itself, aiming to create a fascinating and successful future for the brand.

The Garavini Perenne will be released in 2025.