De Tomaso was perhaps the most successful hybrid exotic during the 1950-70s, producing Italian coachwork with American power. Their first successful sports car was the Ford-powered Mangusta, which means “mongoose.” They followed it up with the Pantera (“panther”), which caught the imagination of Lincoln-Mercury enough to sell over 5,000 Panteras to well-heeled American enthusiasts.
Image: Motor Trend
De Tomaso barely managed to survive in the ensuing years, existing as a boutique exotic builder until seven years ago, so it’s with some surprise that former Fiat marketing executive Gian Mario Rossignolo has announced plans to relaunch the De Tomaso brand at theGeneva International Motor Show in March.
On the other hand, this shouldn’t come as a surprise - there are more than a few storied brands that have been resurrected with a combination of engineers, business people, and investors, most notably Bugatti. What’s surprising, however, is the type of car that the new De Tomaso will be introducing, a Pininfarina-designed crossover that will compete with the likes of the BMW 5-series Gran Turismo. Dubbed the Sport Luxury Car for the time being, the four-wheel drive SLC is set to be built starting next year with a choice of two gasoline engines, a 300hp V6 and a 550hp V8, plus a 250hp V6 diesel variant.
Image: Automotive News Europe
Rossignolo signed a deal late in 2009 to rent Pininfarina’s factory in Grugliasco. It’s part of his plan to invest approximately $172 million in the resurrection of De Tomaso, which also includes 3,000 SLCs to be built per year. The De Tomaso portfolio will later be expanded to include a luxury sedan and coupe.
Now, I’ve seen it plenty of times - a businessman with bravado who has great big dreams for automotive greatness. Will there be enough demand for a De Tomaso? Better yet, will they be able to produce more than 150 cars before the project goes belly-up?