Like ISO, Siata, Bizzarrini and Lamborghini, the mid-1960s were sweet to all these new marques. Export markets to the US and elsewhere were all-new possibilities for the firms, and increases in sales were achieved for almost all the brands.
Only a few really made it past the tumult of the early 1970s Arab Oil Embargo and new crash/emissions rules coming into force in America, by now dwarfing Europe in overall sales volumes for supercars.
Lamborghini rescued itself via the Miura and later the Countach, but proceeded to produce a variety of unpopular and ungainly GT cars and 2+2 models. De Tomaso had real talent for design and manufacturing, with the Mangusta a near-perfect rival to the Miura in every way. This mid-engine layout still wears a divine long-hood style, with crisp and aggressive simplicity in its shapes. The early cars like this 1969 are the best of the lot, with the car getting more garish over the years.From 1970, the Mangusta wore flip-up lamps for the US market — looking less pure and less innocent than the 1960s chic of this open-faced design.
The Mangusta takes a ding in its value to connoisseurs at the time, and collectors today, due to its outsourced engines. Early cars in the 400-unit run featured a Ford HiPo 289-cubic-inch engine from the racing world, but the remainder a 302-c.i. Ford V8.
The Mangusta was exceptionally influential: its nose and chunky hard surfaces and corners would directly inspire the 1971-and-beyond Ford Mustang and Dodge Challengers and Chargers, among others. By the end of the 1970s, even the Chevy Caprice wore a very similar face.
The Mangusta had some handling foibles, with makes sense with a 30/70 front/rear weight distribution and soft springs. Perhaps the challenge of a fast corner is still part of the thrill for this sunburst orange example.
Whatever the case, this vehicle is high-fashion sexy in 2015 — and will earn a nice new parking spot after its sale on December 10th in Manhattan by RM Sotheby’s.
1969 DeTomaso Mangusta by Ghia