The De Tomaso Mangusta was introduced in 1967 and replaced the Vallelunga model, on which its chassis was based. The word "mangusta" is Italian for "mongoose", an animal that can kill cobras. It has always been rumored that the car was so named because De Tomaso had some talks with Carroll Shelby to replace the Shelby Cobra with a racing car to be built in Italy by the Argentine-born De Tomaso. However, no deal was struck since Shelby became involved in the Ford GT40 racing program. Nevertheless, Alejandro de Tomaso and Carroll Shelby were friends and business is business. It is also rumored that the first handful of engines for the Mangusta may have come from Shelby.
In 1971 the Mangusta was replaced by the much cheaper to build De Tomaso Pantera following the production of just 401 Mangustas. About 150 of the cars were for Europe and the remainder were for North America. The majority of the cars built had Ford 302 engines producing 300 HP and were mated to a 5 speed ZF box (very similar to the GT40).
Today there are reported to be approximately only 200 of the 401 cars left in existence according to the register.
This car, Chassis 8MA 1294, is believed to be one of just 10 RHD cars built and possibly one of only 8 that survive. It was first delivered in 1971 and is most famous for being owned by Freddie Moss, a London club and casino owner, in the 1980's. Moss was well known for exercising the car on track at race meetings frequently. He would drive the car to the track (in its fetching livery of red with blood thirsty teeth across the nose) and enter the all-comer races starting at the back of the grid and working his way to the front past lesser engine vehicles. Following his events he would drive the car back to London and park up outside one of his nightclubs for business as usual.
In 1993 the car was purchased as a tired project car by George Gordon-Smith and was gently and sympathetically restored being finished in Aston California Sage. In 2003 the car was featured in Classic and Sports Car following its restoration. In 2007 the car was purchased by its next owner who decided he wanted a total nut and bolt restoration carried out to produce a concours condition example. The car was stripped to bare metal and repainted in Ferrari TdF Blue. The interior was expertly retrimmed to a sensational level of quality. Finally all the mechanicals were totally revised and the engine was mated to some extremely tasty 180 degree manifolds that are said to help the motor produce approximately 400 BHP.
8MA 1294 is truly a rare beast; it is presented in as restored condition with furious attention to detail throughout and is surely one of the finest examples in existence. The car represents a genuine opportunity to experience a rare and most sought after early Italian supercar in rare RHD form.
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