De Tomaso recognised that in order for the company to be financially solid, he needed to produce road-legal cars in greater numbers. Small successes with the Vallelunga, and the talents of the Ghia designer studio, encouraged DeTomaso to firmly establish himself amongst the big league of supercar builders in Modena.
The Mangusta chassis was mechanically a direct descendant of the Brock/Fantuzzi '70P' sports prototype 5-litre V8 car of 1965. Ghia's Giorgetto Giugiario had designed the, as yet, unnamed Mangusta body style for Iso, but they had rejected it, not wanting a mid-engine configuration. The enterprising DeTomaso saw his opportunity to marry the two designs and placed the Mangusta shell onto the sports racing 'spine chassis' frame of the 70P/Sport 5000 De Tomaso-Ghia 1965 show car.
Its radical design featured the central spine chassis layout first seen on the Vallelunga expanded for the dimensions of a larger vehicle (166 inches long on a 97.5 inch wheelbase) and centre-hinged "gullwing" doors for the engine compartment and rear storage areas. The power was provided by a race-inspired alloy Ford V-8 engine providing solid acceleration and performance. The engine was backed by a ZF 5-speed transaxle with limited slip differential. The suspension was fully independent, brakes were 4-wheel power disc, and each corner carried a cast magnesium wheel by Campagnolo.
Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the Mangusta’s aggressive yet flowing shape; with body, alloy gullwings and bonnet fabrication handled by Ghia. Inside, the Mangusta showed that it was indeed a 'luxury Gran Turismo,' with comfortable leather seats, air conditioning, electric windows and a full complement of instrumentation.
When asked about the name 'Mangusta,' De Tomaso often quoted a witticism he had made in conversation with Carroll Shelby (contracted to Ford's Cobra programme), as the Mangusta (Italian for Mongoose) is the only animal that will take on a Cobra snake and win. Undoubtedly, the beautiful shape of the Mangusta, first shown at the Turin Show in 1966, firmly established DeTomaso and Ghia on the world stage as designers and producers of a breath-taking car.
- Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro
- Estimated 401 produced
- Sports car, 2 door coupe
- Mid engine, rear wheel drive layout
- 5.0-litre Ford V8 engine
- Transmission 5-speed manual