De Tomaso Mangusta


If you’ve ever read Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, you might remember that heroic Mongoose named Riki-Tiki Tavi saved a small boy’s family by taking out a pair of killer cobras. But you may not know that De Tomaso’s late sixties issue the Mangusta, was named after Kipling’s feline snake slayer.

It might have been a bit of typical Argentine bravura – the AC Cobra was of course at the time the hellman’s ride of choice; and Alejandro De Tomaso may have aspired to knocking the domestic slice of torque on wheels that was synonymous with hard-to-tame power in North America.

As it happened, the Mangusta’s gorgeous Giugiaro-designed body, plonked atop the pretty De Tomaso Vallelunga’s chassis – made the car a piece of work. Tough handling, poor visibility and a cosy cockpit made it a less than user friendly ride on the open road – and in the end only a little over 400 examples were sold. The Pantera, of course, was its much more popular successor – especially in the ‘states.

But no matter. Look at those swoopingly eliptical lateral lines. Look at those the hard sculpted edges at each corner. Look at the pinched rear end and that badass black mouthed mush. This was an automotive statement much more audacious, stylish and exotic than the Pantera.

What Mangusta owner (reeking, no doubt of strong cologne) would have cared about being seen off from the lights by his nemesis? In our opinion the ‘gusta was ten times as appealing as the Cobra in any of its forms.