My Mangusta

Guest Post: Dick Ruzzin - My MangustaAll DeTOMASO Mangustas for the US were built with 215 HP Ford V8 engines. DeTOMASO wanted to build a car that represented the Grand Prix architecture of the times. The Mangusta was built with a ZF 5 speed transaxle as used in Grand Prix cars and a beautiful coupe body designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro.

The name Mangusta was given to the car as it was originally seen as a challenger to the Ford Cobra. The Mongoose is the natural enemy of the Cobra.

Uniquely motivated
DeTomaso logoWhen Bill Mitchell, Vice president of Design for General Motors saw the car at the Turin Auto Show in 1968, he spoke to Alesandro DeTOMASO about buying one, but with an engine from GM instead of Ford.

When Mitchell returned from Italy he called Zora Arkus Duntov for an engine and a yet to be released 350 HP Corvette engine was specially built, tested and sent to Italy where it was installed in Mangusta 8MA-670, at the factory. It is the only Mangusta known that was not built with a Ford engine.

I had the opportunity to buy the car a few months after it arrived as Bill was unhappy with the seating; I was a designer at the time at GM, working for Bill Mitchell. I have owned the car since September of 1969 and have made many functional modifications to improve cooling since the displacement of the Corvette engine is much larger than the original Ford. The car weighs 2956 pounds and, after recently modifying the engine for today’s fuel, it has 350 HP and 370 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 time is under 5 seconds.

1969 DeTomaso Manugsta - with Chevrolet engine

This car is pure fun to drive and to look at. Space is tight and working on it is challenging since the car is small and very low. I have always done all of the work on the car, but I recently have had the engine and body refurbished at Wheel to Wheel in Troy, MI. I do not consider it a show car. I drive it often and have great delight in owning such a beautiful representation of Italian automotive art of the late sixties powered by one of the most outstanding American engines ever created.

Click on the thumbnail below to see a larger version.

1969 DeTomaso Manugsta - with Chevrolet engine

[Mr. Ruzzin’s professional experience includes over 140 car design projects as creative designer, studio head and Director of Design. Apart form GMC he’s worked for every GM brand, including Opel, Vauxhall, Holden, GM du Brazil, Toyota, Isuzu, Suzuki, SAAB, Lotus and BITTER. Since retirement, he has continued as a design educational consultant in China and Taiwan, as well as for GM Design.

More recently, he wrote an article about the design of the DeTomaso Mangusta which will appear in Automotive Quarterly in December of 2012. No one has ever written exclusively about the design of the car in spite of its outstanding and long lasting emotional shape. It should be a fascinating read.

Also, please allow me to express my gratitude to Mr. Ruzzin for his participation on this site and discussing something personal; his unique Mangusta. Not only for giving us a look at it, but also for detailing its storied past.

For those that missed the interview I recently conducted with Mr. Ruzzin regarding his role in designing the 1992 Cadillac Seville, I invite you to have a look: Design Notes: Interview with Dick Ruzzin.]