The De Tomaso Mangusta was famously named after the Mongoose – the only animal that hunts and kills cobras. It’s widely thought that the name was a friendly jab at Carroll Shelby, whose AC Cobra had become the most famous (and successful) example of a European car with an American V8.
Alejandro de Tomaso was a famously gregarious racing driver and entrepreneur from Argentina, a country he had to flee as a young man due to his involvement in a foiled attempt at a coup for the leadership. With Italian ancestry, Alejandro had no problem fitting in in the old country and his talent behind the wheel saw him find a position as an O.S.C.A. racing driver.
His first car was the mid-engined Vallelunga – a stunningly beautiful car that suffered from a lack of power due to its rather small 1.5 L inline-4 from the Ford Cortina.
In his next model, the Mangusta, Alejandro decided to go all-out and sourced himself a far more powerful 271 bhp 302 cubic inch Ford V8, and coupled it to a 5-speed ZF transmission. The car was designed with independent suspension on all four corners, front and rear anti-sway bars and four wheel Girling disc brakes.
Just over 400 Mangustas were sold in total and the car quickly earned a reputation for performance at a relatively low price point. It was a challenging car to drive due to the 68/32 rear-biased weight distribution and exceedingly low ground clearance – but these foibles quickly become meaningless when sitting in the car and listening to the grumble of that Ford V8.