The World Needs More Mangusta

The De Tomaso Mangusta was the predecessor to the automaker’s more famous Pantera. Only 401 of these Italian Lambo-esque exotics were built between 1967 and 1971, and only about 170 are known to remain in existence.

Rumor has it that De Tomaso chose the name Mangusta, Italian for “Mongoose,” because the namesake animal is capable of killing cobras. That was a little bit of trash talk directed at Carroll Shelby, whom the company had been in talks with to replace the Shelby Cobra with a De Tomaso.

Shelby, of course, went on to build a storied relationship with Ford while De Tomaso slipped into automotive oblivion after the Pantera’s respectable run.

Now, a design student has taken a stab at designing a modern Mangusta, and it’s just what the year 2012 could use.

While the original car looked the part of of an exotic, the performance didn’t quite match. With a weight distribution of 32/68, the car handled like a slab of concrete.

While the new concept is just a designer’s take on what a modern version could be, I’m loving it. Graduate student Maxime de Keiser penned the concept to honor his favorite model of the past and said,

Like the original, it had to be spectacular and communicate an impression of wild ferocity and power while recalling the serenity of a feline at rest, and the elegance of an animal that doesn’t need to fear anything.

I think anytime the term “wild ferocity” is used to describe a concept, good things are in store.

Keen-eyed readers will notice the designer took the European approach and used four headlamps instead of the two pop-up lamps the original U.S. version used. Good call, I think.

Yes, the Mangusta, both concept and original, have the ground clearance of a platypus, but still this thing looks ready to roll off a production line at any moment. All it needs is a solid chassis and a mid-mounted modern engine. Heck, just for the irony alone, give it the 5.4-liter 32-valve V8 engine that delivers 550 horsepower in the modern Shelby GT500 and watch the sales rack up!

Alas, this Mangusta concept remains nothing more than a dream, but it’s a wonderful dream to kick off this new year.

What other old car models would you like to see come back?

-tgriffith

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