De Tomaso, legendary Italian supercar maker, is staging a comeback and they plan to do it by sparking “American automotive renaissance.”
2021 will, fingers crossed, be a year of new beginnings and not least for the erstwhile Argentine/Italian supercar maker De Tomaso. The company that began with the Mangusta and the Pantera, exotic mid-engine supercars of the 60s and 70s, is being revived in the 2020s, and it’s moving to the US.
Like their most well-known and successful car, the Pantera, their new project, the P72 will be built in partnership with Ford Motor Company. The Pantera, if you’ll recall, not only featured a Ford 5.8L Cleveland under its mid-engine hood, it was actually sold in the US through Ford’s Lincoln–Mercury dealerships. But unlike the Pantera, De Tomaso not only wants an American engine in their car, they want to build the whole thing right in the US.
While this might sound sensible from a business perspective, as De Tomaso’s CEO Ryan Berris tells it, the ultimate motivation for fleeing Modena, Italy for America stems from De Tomaso’s “love of and discontent with the American automotive industry.” De Tomaso is coming to save American car culture.
De Tomaso hasn’t made a production car since 2004. But, after naming rights were purchased in 2014 by Ideal Team Ventures (a Hong Kong based investing firm) and some unsuccessful attempts to revive the company, the De Tomaso brand was again attached to a mid-engine supercar. Last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed saw the debut of a new concept from De Tomaso, the P72. And though the company didn’t have dedicated production facilities or much in the way of employees or resources, it was clear they had a vision. The P72 is inarguably a beautiful car.
The Goodwood P72 concept takes its design from the De Tomaso P70 race car designed by Carrol Shelby and Peter Brock. With the Le Mans style body lines and deep burgundy paint job complimented by copper accenting, the P72 is stunning. The cabin is equally elegant, with copper and chrome offset by quilted leather. There’s something of a steampunk vibe to the P72 interior, which is indeed refreshingly original in the supercar space.
Like the Pantera before it, the P72 will feature a Ford V8, this time a 5.0L paired with a six-speed manual transmission. In keeping with modern design, the P72 will be built on a carbon fiber monocoque chassis. But, you ask, will the P72 walk the supercar walk? Berris tells Bloomberg news the P72 will offer in the ballpark of 700hp but that big numbers aren’t really the goal. The aim instead is to make “a true piece of art”, and judging from the initial concept, the P72 is certainly that if nothing else.
As of this writing, De Tomaso has a lot of plans but not a lot else. It’s website, however, features a compelling mission statement. De Tomaso’s AAR or American Automotive Renaissance sets out the laudable, if grandiose goal of, in their words, “reignit[ing] the romance, beauty, passion and elegance of luxury American automobiles.” So, does American automotive culture need an Italian car company to save it from itself?
At first, you want to dismission this notion out of hand. And yet … this has been a year that saw the most successfully launched cars as retro throwbacks like the new Ford Bronco and GM’s Hummer EV. The tide of crossovers continues to rise ever higher. And American luxury brands like Cadillac and Lincoln continue to struggle against the likes of Mercedes and Lexus. As grandiose and slightly condescending as the suggestion may be, perhaps American automakers could indeed use a little of that inspiration De Tomaso is promising.
De Tomaso is currently in discussion with a number of US states to find the most suitable location for their new headquarters. The company is looking to not only base their manufacturing State-side, but also move their entire operation, HQ and R&D, to the US. They hope to begin hiring in 2021 with an initial hiring of some 300-500 employees. Without a location or employees, the current goal of a P72 roll out in 2022 might seem overly ambitious, but if Elon Musk’s Tesla has taught us anything, it’s that setting ridiculously ambitious goals may be the most important factor in reaching new heights (even if you miss your mark).
Is there room for another boutique supercar? With SSC, Koenigsegg, Hennessey, and others all boasting 1000+ horsepower figures and pushing their limits to exceed 300 mph, De Tomaso seeks to set itself apart from the supercar crowd by pushing a more wholistic experience anchored in aesthetics and originality. We can only wish them the best of luck.
De Tomaso plans to build just 72 examples of the P72 at $850,000 apiece.
Beautiful curves on a car beats beautiful curves on a road any day!