Most of my vacations to Maui don’t offer much in the way of interesting car photo fodder. Sure, there are plentiful rent-a-Ferraris being driven by newlyweds and orthodontists and a plethora of potato popping Harleys, but really unique cars are rare here. Imagine my surprise when I saw this 2000 Detomaso Mangusta parked in the condo complex next door.
The DeTomaso name is most famous for the Ford 351 powered Pantera which was a poster special for children of the 70s and 80s. I saw a Pantera GTS one day in the late 80s on the freeway while behind the wheel of my friend’s ridiculously beautiful 1966 Fiat 124 Spider. The Pantera owner recognized the Fiat as something cool and pulled up alongside for a mutual eyeball session and thundered off after a wave and a flash of a thumbs up.
The Mangusta name was first applied to the car that preceded the Pantera. The original DeTomaso Mangusta was launched in the late 60s and featured Ford’s 289 and 302 V8s in a sleek midengine sportscar with a unique gullwing opening engine bay. Only 401 Mangustas were built before the Pantera was launched. When I was a teenage car enthusiast, a cool musician in my neighborhood had a yellow Mangusta with a broken engine. It remained stranded on his driveway for as long as I knew him – taunting all with its seductive lines and muted voice.
The new Mangusta was born in the 90s when Alejandro de Tomaso was in recovery from a stroke. He consulted with some trusted advisers and became determined to build an Italian TVR. Recall in the early 90s that TVR was experiencing a resurgence, producing powerful and visually arresting cars. The responsibility for the body design of the new Mangusta was given to Marcello Gandini. Signore Gandini is legendary for his Miura, Countach, Stratos, Montreal, and other poster-worthy cars.
To fit the semi-retractable hardtop, the back of the car is somewhat awkwardly high. The targa panel needs to be removed and stowed behind the seats before the rear window section rotates backward into the space in front of the trunk. The high back is masked a bit with some rocker panel detail and angular shoulder lines that give a “leaning forward” profile similar to the Fiat Coupe designed by Chris Bangle.
The new Mangusta is powered by Ford’s DOHC 4.6 liter v8 from the Mustang Cobra. The front of the car is powerfully styled with side vents and a subtle hood vent that balance well with the high back and angular sides.
These are the stock wheels for this car and they look a little out of place to me. I’m generally a fan of the five spoke design, but think this particular style looks a little Pep Boys for this car.
I’ve seen this car motoring around the neighborhood during my vacation and am surprised that it doesn’t turn heads. There were only 284 of these cars made, yet it saunters past the crowds of sunburnt condo-dwellers as if it were a ubiquitous Mustang convertible. I love that it is being used as a vacation toy and has faded paint from living outside. In another decade this car may be bought and “preserved” in some climate controlled collector’s garage. Until then, I hope the current owner keeps enjoying it and stretching its legs in paradise.
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