Cobra Fighter: 1970 DeTomaso Mangusta

“What’s that? Looks like an old Lamborghini”. Well, maybe a little bit… but no, this is something even more special. Like, 1-of-400 special. This is a 1970 De Tomaso Mangusta, it’s recently been released from a 30-year stint in storage, it runs and drives, and is up for sale here on eBay in sunny California. “Okay, but what is a Mangusta?”  Read on to learn more…

The word “mangusta” is Italian for “mongoose”. Our astute readers will piece together that in the wild, a mongoose kills snakes, particularly cobras. Company founder Alejandro de Tomaso and the late Carroll Shelby had a friendly rivalry after talks between them, to create a replacement for the Cobra, fizzled out when Shelby decided to work on the then-new GT40 project.

As for the cars themselves, they were designed by the now-famous Giorgetto Giugiaro and put together in Italy by DeTomaso. While they were inexpensive in their time, there are now only approximately 250 left in the world, out of 401 that were ever made. 150 cars were made to European-specification,  250 were bound for the United States, and allegedly only 50 were made with the pop-up headlights that we see here, bashfully looking down at the pavement, hoping someone will love and care for it enough to bring it back to its former strength.

Buyers had a choice of two different Ford powerplants and one 5-speed manual, all of which were mid/rear mounted, although the then-VP of General Motors Bill Mitchell allegedly had one made with a Chevrolet engine. Whatever made it move, it was all housed under a gull (or maybe goose?) wing bonnet.

The seller has taken the time to do quite a few things, in order to get it running. They seem to have gone over it with a fine-toothed comb and reported many of their findings in the listing. The question now becomes: “If you had the money, would you want this?”

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  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I know nothing about Lambos except they are great looking rigs. I looked at the Ebay ad and saw the BIN, I then learned that I will never own one.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Mike, it’s a Detomaso. Think Pantera and then you’ll know.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Thanks Dennis, the Pantera thing helped! Hi Steve, I know nothing about Lambos or Panteras except they are great looking rigs. I looked at the Ebay ad and saw the BIN, I then learned that I will never own one. I am now going to Wiki!

    • Steve

      It’s not a Lambo.

  2. Rick

    I can’t tell if it’s been beat up from use or from storage. I can’t afford it either way, but I’d almost run it as-is once the mechanicals or sorted. Then you wouldn’t worry so much about additional dents, scrapes and parking lot dings…

  3. Mountainwoodie

    I actually know someone who has on of these , I think from new……its been a couple of years since I spoke with him about the car……..I dont know about the price and with the damage, the color change and the fact the tranny doesn’t shift so I wonder what it will actually sell for.

  4. Ralph

    So were just re-running cars that were run in 2018 as new finds? Is that what were doing here?

  5. healeydays

    I always loved the Mangusta. I rember the 1st time I saw one of these was traveling from New Brunswick Canada into Maine at a small crossing that was known for folks trying to bring back things they shouldn’t. This was back in the 1980s and my car was pulled to be searched (must have looked guilty in my little Rx7). Where they did the inspection was next to an impound lot. Someone tried to cross into the US with the car and it wasn’t federalized and was impounded along with 2 Ferrari that were also in the lot. I asked the agent what was the deal, he told me they were being held and would be crushed. Sad, very sad…

  6. DRV

    I’ve ridden in one about ten years ago and remember it feeling kit car like with the interior so boxy and flat. The owner had made mods only to induction of the motor and insulation from heat and noise. I wish I could have driven it.

  7. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    One of the best looking bodies on any vintage Italian supercar, but these had serious handling problems. Buy it for its looks, not for going fast.

  8. Chris

    Hard to really get behind there ever really being a serious rivalry considering both were powered by Ford V8s. Maybe only a rivalry of egos. And what’s up with the creep in the black trench coat in the photo? Yikes!

    • Danger Dan

      My partner Mr.Chatman is a good man, known for feeding the homeless, jump starting neighbors cars on street sweeping day, keeping his word and generally kicking ass hauling out dead classics. I’m glad you are enjoying the pictures. Keep it classy.

      • Ralph

        What makes this a new find in comparison to the same article run here on 8/23/18 with the same car? Has anything changed?

        I guess he “kicked so much ass” at hauling it out in 2018 he did it again for 2019 as an encore?

      • Danger Dan

        Dear Ralph, I did not ask for the vehicle to be featured here, nor did I ask for any peanut gallery. Please feel free to gab about the vehicle & the price but keep the man to man insults to a minimum.

  9. Francisco

    Given that AC Cobras are now going for over a million. This might be a relative bargain. It has a Ford V8 after all.

  10. Scuderia

    Looks like the seller had a good day… for someone selling old haynes manuals and chevy gas pedals a Mangusta is the find of a lifetime, good for him.

  11. Canuckessean

    Nah, I would buy a Cobra….

  12. carbuzzard Member

    I’ve driven a Mangusta and it you’re looking for something with a smidgen of practicality, this ain’t it. It’s a much art as it is automobile. For all that brutal beauty, there are real world flaws, the worst of which is a result of the extremely low ride height: The bellhousing is the lowest point on the car. Raised manhole cover? Railroad tracks just a little too high? Things will get expensive fast. Love it…but be paranoid behind the wheel.

  13. Wrong Way Member

    LOL, very funny, Cobra killer? Not! I wished I had some pictures of my Cobra that I could show.However, I really don’t know if it could eat mine or not. I would love to find out tho!

    • Steve S

      What engine and transmission does your car have wrong way? The car in this post looks like it would be fun to drive

      • Wrong Way Member

        I have the 428 in the Cobra. It’s a late 68 model very few were made that year with this particular engine. They started offering the 428 about mid year I believe. Mine is my prize toy, but I do let her stretch her legs a couple times every summer! :-)

  14. Neil

    I saw the artice here and thought “WOW!!” – then I went to the ebay page and had a heart attack at the BIN of $189,000. Welll – it is an italian supercar and at first glance an nice one so some one will be happy.
    Then I started reading the blurb of all that was still worong with it and what was missing…. They reckon another £100,000 to fix those issues – I think they have been VERY conservative. If the work is done using genuine parts I would not be surprised to see the fix it up price equal the purchase price…..
    So I think I’ll pass on this thank you :) :)

    • Marko

      Neil, look again at the ad. $189k is the Current Bid. The Buy It Now is $239k !

      This should go for more than half a million. Rare car and pretty decent shape.

      • Neil

        Ops – my goof Marko!! :)
        Still reckon the $100,000 to fix is woefully under-estimated though.

  15. Mike_B_SVT

    Sort it out, put it back together, drive it as-is. Every day.

    Pardon me, I have to go now to find a mop for my drool. Hopefully I’ll stumble upon a winning lottery ticket too, while I’m away.

  16. Keruth

    for its condition, crack-pipe! Hemmings has two, clean and running listings, one for less than this.
    I’ll wait for a pantera I can afford, lol!

  17. John Matras Member

    The Mangusta is not in anyway a daily driver, even it it were priced like a Camry. Its interior is a tighter fit than yoga pants–leave your ball cap at home. The lowest point is the bellhousing. It has extremely low ground clearance, and you’d better be on constant alert for raised manhole covers, railroad tracks and the like, because hitting one would cause beau coup damage. Handling is notoriously bad; it has a backbone frame, giving the Mangusta torsional rigidity only in the sense that it doesn’t have any. It’s said that the Mangusta has the ability to understeer and oversteer at the same time.

    Buy it and drive it to cars and coffee, cars shows (er, concours), whatever, and keep it well cossetted. Its heritage is as the forebear to the DeTomaso Pantera, the successor to the DeTomaso Vallelunga (powered by a four-cylinder Ford engine), DeTomaso’s first foray into carmaking. All were built by Ghia for DeTomaso, with the Mangusta being designed by Giorgio Giugiaro. The Pantera is a Tom Tjaarda design. The Pantera was sold at Lincoln-Mercury dealers, and you know, Ford eventually bought Ghia. Which is why there are Ghia badges on Mustang II models. Talk about a tangled history…

  18. Concinnity

    There was most definitely one Chev powered Mangusta, made for the then head of GM Design, Bill Mitchell. He could hardly drive a Ford powered car, could he? It was made for him by the De Tomaso factory from brand new with a brand new SBC supplied by GM and built for the purpose under Zora Arkus Duntov’s instructions. It is currently owned by Dick Ruzzin, former head of GM Europe design, (designer of the Bitter CD amongst other great designs), now retired. gives the story. He has written a book on the Mangusta which is a ‘must read’ if you’re interested in these cars.

  19. Saul

    There has been a modest resurgence of Detomaso interest since Hagerty’s TV Barn Finder episode featuring the car hoarder in Iowa. One thing pointed out then, was the theory of function following form instead of the other way around. One look at that cockpit and I’m thinking ZERO designed ergonomics, (uncomfortable controls, heat build up), not to mention at 41 inches off the ground your entire torso is practically horizontal. And, if I had the means to put this red on in my stable, those wheels would have to go. They look like something purchased at Pep Boys.

  20. Hemidavey

    Beautiful design, fun to look at. Really a horrible horrible car! Maintenance up the waazoo. I’d never buy buy one, lots of tears to be shed when this insane Italian market goes the other way…

  21. Mike R in De

    Sexy looking cars!! I saw one of these in the Auburn, Cord & Duesenberg museum in Auburn, Indiana, probably 25+ years ago. Same bright red,& still just as sexy. I wasn’t able to get around it to get a good look at it then, just a frontal view. I’ve never seen another one since. Good luck to the new owner and seller.

  22. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Well, no bids at the opening bid. Maybe I can afford it. Ended: Feb 18, 2019 , 3:58PM
    Starting bid:US $189,000.00
    Reserve not met
    [ 0 bids ]
    Price:US $239,000.00

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