de tomaso mangusta car & driver

When it’s a 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta coupe…that’s when.  Never heard of it?  You’re not alone…most people in the car industry will know the name De Tomaso, and undoubtedly associate that car maker with the Pantera.  No, not the heavy metal band from Texas with front man Terry Glaze, but rather the mid-engine Italian supercar of the early ’70’s that put De Tomaso on the automotive map of relevance.

Photo credit: DryHeatPanzer via / CC BY-NC-SA

But before there was the popular ‘panther’…there was the Mangusta, or Mongoose.  It’s rumored this was to be a replacement for and semanticly directed at the Cobra of the time.   First arriving on the scene in 1967, it was powered by a mid-engined 4.7L Ford V8…the same one used in the GT40 Le Mans challenger.  This would later change to the Ford 302 and drop about 80hp in the process.

1969 De Tomaso Mangusta

Photo credit: mangopulp2008 via / CC BY-NC-ND

The Mangusta was good for a top speed of around 155mph, and disc brakes all-around helped to slow it down.  There were talks between De Tomaso and the Ford Motor Company with the hopes of larger scale production.  

de tomaso car & driver

From the 1970 Car & Driver May issue…at the time, Ford and De Tomaso were in talks of increasing production of the Mangusta.  Alas, talks are all it would ever be.  Nevertheless, only 401 examples were made between 1967 and 1972 and only about 250 of those made it to North America.  Hope you like your mongoose cooked rare.  

And one of the absolute most unique features of all…gull wing panels covering the engine and luggage compartment.

de tomaso gull wing doors

Craig Howell – originally posted to Flickr as Detomaso Mangusta; Detomaso Mangusta at 2009 Alameda All Italian Car & Motorcycle Show

It’s not all glamorous for the Mangusta though…there are claims that under power the chassis would flex, resulting in unpredictable handling, with understeer noted when turning one way, and oversteer when turning the other. Handling complaints notwithstanding, the most common headaches are rust and sourcing original parts.

bonham 1969 de tomaso mangusta auction

Photo rights to Bonham’s

As you can imagine with only 401 ever made, they don’t often show up on Craigslist.  The Mangusta pictured above sold at Bonham’s in 2012 for a mere $166k.  Prior to that, auction records show one sold in 2006 for about $50k…a 3x increase in just 6 years.  Jumping ahead in time to 2013…one year after the $166k sale, another one would sell for $261k also at Bonham’s.  A 57% price jump in only 1 year.  More recent results have these pegged at $300k and above.  That $166k a few years ago is looking pretty attractive now.  As luck would have it, we did find a couple for sale in the U.S., with prices starting at $275k for this 1969 in Mississippi.

1969 de tomaso mangusta for sale

Photo credits to seller (find it here )

And this (also) 1969 in Florida with a claimed 8,783 miles for $299k.  Any Mangusta experts out there care to comment on the mirror placement?  We found ’67 and ’68’s with front wing positioning, but all ’69’s we found had side door placement.

Photo credits to seller (find it here)

I’m often asked, “if you could have any car you wanted, what would it be?”…I usually respond with a “Land Rover NAS Defender 110 badge #1 or #500”, a “Lamborghini Miura P400, SV/J if you’re really feeling generous “, or perhaps a  “1967 Ferrari 330 P4 for those weekend autocross events”…well folks, the Mangusta just got added to that list.  Watch the video below and I’m sure you’ll agree.

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Cover photo credit: Chris Wevers via / CC BY-NC-SA

3 thoughts on “When is $165,000 not a lot to spend on a car?

  1. jgoodall says:

    The early front wing position of the mirrors appears to take it’s cue from the track. I have a ’71 with mirrors in the door placement. It seems to be more practical for street use.

  2. Jeff W says:

    Great read on the Mangusta. I had heard of it, but that was about it. Very cool design. I will keep my eyes open for one at museums and car shows in the future!

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