1969 DE TOMASO Mangusta Four Headlights 289 CI

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1969 DE TOMASO Mangusta Four Headlights 289 CI

Background

Alejandro de Tomaso was a driven, very ambitious Argentinian racing driver and entrepreneur who settled in Modena, Italy, in 1955. Out of convenience and to better blend in, he adapted his first name to its Italian version, Alessandro.

Modena was then the world centre of motorsport and de Tomaso soon started building single seaters including a considerable number of Formula Juniors. A plethora of models were born from his creative mind and relentless efforts which would take him as a team owner all the way to F1. His first road car was a brilliant concept called the Vallelunga, a gorgeous very light mid rear-engined Berlinetta with a 1,5 litre Ford Kent engine. It featured a backbone chassis and its brilliant very agile handling was a revelation. Only fifty were built as de Tomaso was already on to the next project: the Mangusta.

The Mangusta was born from serendipity. Our man acquired many companies in his life and had recently bought the Ghia design firm. One rear mid-engine design study, the shape that would become the Mangusta, was entrusted to Ghia’s young and very talented Giorgetto Giugiaro who penned one of the all time beauties of the automotive world, a truly iconic design. It had initially been created for Iso Rivolta whose racing minded head engineer Giotto Bizzarrini was pushing in that direction but Iso owner Renzo Rivolta, far more Grand Touring oriented, decided he was agaisnt the idea of a rear mid-engine model and turned down the project. Therefore de Tomaso wondering what to do with it decided he would make it his own next model, essentially a scaled-up Vallelunga with longer wider backbone chassis –based on the stillborn de Tomaso P70 Can Am racer- and a Ford V8.

Why the name you ask? De Tomaso had just fallen out with Carrol Shelby, the builder of the famous Cobras, and so our man Alessandro in a typical display of his fiery temperament chose to name his new car after the only animal who is expert at defeating Cobra snakes: the Mangusta, which is Italian for Mongoose.

Combining impossibly sober lines with uncannily perfect proportions, the Mangusta has been leaving onlookers speechless since its 1966 launch. Its trademark feature, the "Ali di Gabbiano" gull wing engine covers always stop people in their tracks. The engine chosen was a Ford 302 Cubic inch V8 for the US market and a more powerful 289 for Europe. Early Mangustas had single flip up headlights before a twin headlight configuration, better suited to the car’s pure yet aggressive styling, became standard.

The inside is roomy and will accommodate most drivers comfortably. In your hands is a strikingly unique steering wheel. Made by Ferrero it is partly in wood and partly in black leather. The engine, while right behind your head, is surprisingly quiet even on long trips - contrary to many first generation rear mid-engined exotics like the Lamborghini Miura. The steering is very light and pleasant to deal with, the clutch and brake pedals do take some effort but that is part of the experience with these cars. The performance is what you expect, very satisfying with major US V8 grunt. These are very docile non-stressed and therefore durable engines which are also far, far less expensive to maintain than complex Italian engines.

Driving a “Goose” as they are nicknamed is a very satisfying experience...that is once you have torn yourself from contemplating its beauty.

The handling is good though a driver should be mindful of 70% of the weight being on the rear wheels, which can make the steering a tad light, especially at speed. Visibility is excellent and there is a generous trunk in the front allowing sufficient luggage for a holiday. There are also very useful storage cubicles in front of the rear wheels.

Always an extremely rare sight since only 402 were made between 1966 and 1971, the Mangusta never fails to draw a crowd at any car event or in the street.

It is in the opinion of many more beautiful than its ubiquitous successor the Pantera, which was made in far greater numbers. You will see 100 Panteras before you see a Mangusta, including at major de Tomaso International meetings.

It is interesting to note that while countless Panteras have been heavily modified, the Mangusta is such a pure design with a formidable presence, that most of the cars were indeed left stock. Modifying a Mangusta is commonly considered sacrilege and indeed very few of them were; they are thankfully rare exceptions. This does not mean that finding a good example is an easy task, but the car on offer here might be your chance.

The Vehicle

The car offered here, chassis 8MA820, is a particularly fine example that has been well maintained throughout its life.

It left the factory in 1969 in the most desirable 289 Cubic Inch engine and four headlight configuration and was sold new to its first owner Norman Dure who lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, one of the eastern provinces of Canada, an unusual part of the world for such exotica.

Subsequently, the Mangusta stayed in Halifax for the decades to come, most likely driven less than half of the year given the local northerly climate, and tucked away for the rest of the season.

In April 2002, after 32 years in Halifax it was acquired by Chris Cartwright from the other side of North America, Granite Bay, in California.

It soon became clear that it was time to restore the car. A noise in the steering pointed out by Cartwright and noted in the restorer’s invoices proves it was in running condition and that he drove it before the restoration began. We can hence conclude that Cartwright’s purchase was not a fossil, basket case or barn find; the car had been actively kept in running order by Dure throughout his three decades of ownership.

The task to restore it was entrusted to TSR Enterprises of Sonoma California, the restoration and vintage racing workshop of Terry Scarborough near the Sears Point racing circuit. After a complete inspection, all sorts of major service and maintenance were done. The job list would be too long to include here but can be seen in the plethora of invoices on file. A few examples of works carried out at that time include: sanding and welding of the exhaust headers, dismantling and rebuilding the brakes, replacing water hoses and flow testing the radiator, removing the engine and welding a cracked cross member, identifying and sorting out suspension and steering issues, redoing the entire handbrake installation, the clock was sent away for repair by a specialist, the locks were sent away for new keys to be made, setting up the suspension including getting corner weights right (note that TSR was specialized in historic racing and such procedures are key to a good handling car). Although it was first attempted to rebuild the engine, the decision was eventually taken to replace the power unit. This is not an uncommon practice with classic de Tomasos as with all US V8 engined cars where “crate engines” are bought ready to go. A space saver wheel and tire was acquired to free up storage space. A flywheel protector plate was installed, a wise decision as Mangusta flywheels sit fairly low to the ground. Air conditioning was installed, an elaborate process done thoroughly. A new Kenwood Pioneer stereo was also fitted but smartly hidden in the glove box so as not to offend the eye. The speakers are integrated in the door cards and can be seen in the pictures.

The ZF gearbox was fully rebuilt by PI Motorsports, a de Tomaso specialist in Orange, near Los Angeles.

The invoices of that period amount to 70.000 USD.

After ten years of enjoyment in California, the Mangusta was sold to Nicolas Robert Gatehouse 24 August 2012. Being a Hong Kong resident with a home in the UK, Gatehouse kept and registered the car in the UK. Two years later it was entrusted to respected British dealer Simon Furlonger who did a major service. It was subsequently put up for auction by Silverstone auctions on 16 November 2014 in the UK where it was acquired by the current German owner for his most impressive private museum. For several years it was put on static display but as the owner reports, the car has recently been recommissioned and put back into service. It is running and driving impeccably as can be seen in the videos made in April 2022 along with many of the photos in the gallery.

On the Outside

The car was then given a proper repaint around 2005 which has passed the test of time well. There are no apparent signs of rust. A couple of paint imperfections are noted, but are only visible upon close inspection.

The wheels are in as-new condition. The trim, including chrome and badges is in good condition throughout and no elements appear to be missing. The tyres appear to still be the same as those that were fitted when the car changed hand in 2014. Given the Mangusta’s powerful engine, the new owner might want to consider fitting a set of new tyres.


On the Inside

The inside is in excellent condition. It appears that at least the seats have been reupholstered, a job done to a good quality level. The rest of the interior; the black leather surfaces and dark grey carpeting, make a clean and well-maintained impression. None of the instrument glasses appear to be broken. One oval speaker has been added to each door panel. The white roofliner appears in the same impeccable condition as the rest of the interior.

Underneath

From underneath, the Mangusta present well with normal signs of use. No major fluid leak is noted and gearbox as well as engine are clean and dry.

The suspension has been visibly rebuilt, with many of the components showing little signs of age. The chassis structure does not show any visible defects or major rust points.

The engine bay is notably clean, with no apparent signs of major water, oil or petrol leaks appearing.

Overall, the car can be considered to be in good condition and has visibly not seen much driving over the recent years.

History Highlights

The Mangusta on offer has known history throughout and comes with a complete file including an original owner’s use and maintenance manual in Italian, a period spec sheet for the ZF gearbox, all maintenance records mentioned above, copies of its previous Canadian, US and UK titles as well as the original UK title documents.

The car was never registered in Germany as it was to be used for museum display however since it was imported to Germany in 2014 as proven by the ample documentation, no tax is due for registration into any EU country.

Bidders are informed that the clutch is near the end of its wear and will need to be replaced. This parts and labor process is estimated at between 3000 to 4000 Euros by various de Tomaso specialists in the US and the UK.


What We Think

Long the most forgotten supercar, Mangustas have gained a following in recent years. The example on offer boosts a known ownership history and a comprehensive history file of a variety of works carried out. Many Mangustas have been lost to time, incidents and decay so this one preserved particularly well through its 53 years of life is truly exceptional. It an active car that has been kept running throughout its life and received all due care.

Considering the rarity of Mangustas and even more so of good examples such as this one.

We are confident to offer this car for auction with an estimate of €220,000 - €300,000.

The vehicle is located in Germany in a village in south west Germany near the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, not far from the French and Swiss borders, 80kms from Basel, 70kms from Mulhouse.

Inspections by registered bidders by appointment gladly arranged.

If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

MarcSonneryServices

  • Location: Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 34872
  • Chassis Number: 8MA820
  • Engine: 4735
  • Gearbox: manual
  • Steering position: LHD
  • Colour: Red
  • Interior: Black vinyl
  • Estimated Price: €220,000 - €300,000

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