There’s always seemed to me to be a certain something about a De Tomaso Mangusta. As one of the first wave of ‘supercars’ (turning up just one year after the Miura) it had its shortcomings (as did the Lamborghini) and yet whenever one turns up at Goodwood, someone somewhere will be heard exclaiming excitedly ‘Ooh, look! A Mangusta!’
Although I must confess to having not driven an early supercar (…yet), I do get the distinct impression that they’re perhaps not the most satisfying driving experience one could hope for. Reports from those who have driven them often include words like ‘cramped’ and ‘instability.’ The Mangusta is apparently no exception. And yet… start one up in front of me, with its off-beat Ford V8 rumbling away as my eye takes in the stunning, hunkered-down Ghia (Giorgetto Giugiaro) design with its two-piece engine hatch and I stop caring about its apparent inadequacies altogether. Blissed-out sailors under the exquisite and deadly spell of sirens have been less-enchanted …
Another significant part of the charm for me comes from its engine’s ‘blue collar’ roots, although to dismiss it as merely a large, unsophisticated lump of American iron is to overlook the fact that just two years before this car was made it won outright at Le Mans (in the Ford GT40). It also produced comparable power and was more torquey than its exotic counterparts despite costing far less and requiring less-frequent and less-intensive servicing.
The GT40 connection doesn’t stop with the thumping motor, either. The Mangusta also shared with the victorious Ford a similar ZF transaxle. Yet despite this and despite costing significantly less than the contemporary Miura, the Mangusta’s production stopped at 401 units versus the Miura’s 765. Who would have guessed that the less-expensive car with the cast iron engine would turn out to be almost twice as rare as the pur sang machine from Sant’ Agata?
As for the values, well a Miura P400S built to SV specification made over £400,000 earlier this year, whilst the very car you see here was sold by Bonhams at its Oxford sale on Sunday for a solid £124,700 all-in. Fair enough, the Mangusta may never be held in the same popular esteem as the Miura, but as an even more exclusive alternative with a number of benefits over the Lambo I’d say they’re a veritable bargain.