One of the very first supercars, the Mangusta effectively established DeTomaso as a serious automobile manufacturer on its arrival in 1967. The Mangusta (mongoose) was powered by a mid-mounted 289-ci Ford V8 engine. Also used to power Ford’s GT40 Le Mans challenger, the iconic 289 produced 306 horsepower as installed in the Mangusta, which also used the GT40’s early-type ZF transaxle.
Later Mangusta production used the less-desirable Ford 302-ci engine, producing only 220 horsepower, together with a later ZF transmission. Carrozzeria Ghia’s Giorgetto Giugiaro contributed the striking gull-wing door coachwork, which had been intended for Giotto Bizzarrini.
With 300 or so horsepower on tap, the aerodynamic Mangusta was good for a top speed in the region of 155 mph. Disc brakes all around helped restrain this outstanding performance. DeTomaso enjoyed close links with the Ford Motor Company at this time, and the American firm helped put the Mangusta into larger- scale production than would otherwise have been possible. Nevertheless, only 401 examples were made between 1967 and 1972, and any Mangusta is extremely rare; this example particularly so given that it is one of the first made and therefore has the most sought-after specification.
Chassis number 8MA542 was built for the European market, for which 150 were made, and not for the United States, which already had federal emissions and other particular requirements by 1969. It is a rare four-headlight model built prior to the standardization of two pop-up headlights for both the European and U.S. markets, which lasted for the rest of Mangusta production. Very early cars such as this can also be identified by their folding bucket seats, whereas later examples were manufactured with a fixed back.
This car also retains its original air-conditioning system, which has been carefully rebuilt to be fully functional, and its European specification instruments. This car has recorded the exceptionally low figure of only 40,500 kilometers (approximately 25,000 miles) from new, and close inspection shows it to be exceptionally original, even down to the 43-year-old, slightly threadbare carpet in the driver’s footwell!
With careful ownership throughout its 43 years, the car also benefited from many years spent in the sunny and dry state of Arizona. On arrival in the U.K., the Mangusta underwent extensive servicing by Newlands Motors and has covered fewer than 100 miles since securing its MoT. Finished in black with light tan interior, 8MA542 is stunning to look at, exciting to drive and sounds just like a GT40.