Alejandro DeTomaso designed the original Mangusta, the "Cobra Killer", with a 7.0 liter engine planning to race it against Carol Shelby's Daytona Cobras after the two had a falling out over a project to redesign the Cobra in Modena. The FIA intervened and outlawed engines over 3.0 liters so DeTomaso's plans to outrace Shelby never came to fruition. He did produce 401 Mangustas (1967-71) with smaller 4.7 and 5.0 liter engines for Europe and North America before replacing them with the less expensive to build Pantera for which he is best known.
This Mangusta was conceived as a way to revive the DeTomaso Motor Company and is one of the last projects DeTomaso worked on prior to his death. The original idea came from Masarati Technical Director, Giordano Cassarini, who suggested a V-8 powered Italian TVR. The primary design work was done by Marcello Gandini, known for his design work on the Lamborghini Countach. Other designers included Giordano Cassarini of Masarati who developed the unique "roto-top" and Formula 1 designer, Enrique Scalabroni, who designed the chassis. A prototype was orginally shown at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show as the DeTomaso Bigua but the company needed funding to start production of the cars. The Italian government would not back him financially due to his fragile health, so DeTomaso sought financial assistance from Kjell Qvale, a Norwegian-American auto importer and dealer who had previously bailed out the Jensen Motor Company in the 1970's. Qvale agreed to provide financial backing to produce the cars which were to be sold under the DeTomaso brand as the DeTomaso Bigua. The first DeTomaso Bigua was completed on November 10, 1999. The cars were hand built in Modena, Italy and like all DeTomaso's featured Ford engines. In January 2000, Qvale's son, Bruce announced the return of the DeTomaso brand to the U.S. at the Los Angeles Motor Show. They also announced DeTomaso's return to racing when Qvale Motorsports entered a car, sponsored by Tommy Bahama, in the BF Goodrich Trans-Am Series. As the car was being launched, there was a falling out between DeTomaso and Qvale which ended up with the car being rebadged as a Qvale Mangusta and production continued. A total of 284 cars were produced in 2000 and 2001. This car is #186 and is believed to be one of 20 black on black Mangustas produced. It was judged by the former manager of the Qvale plant in Modena to be the best of the Mangustas at the gathering of the Qvales at the Hilton Head Concours Club Car showcase in 2015. It also received Platinum Awards at the 2016 and 2017 Celebration Exotic Car Concours. Only 150 cars are thought to exist today.
A unique feature of the car, is the "roto-top" which allows for three different roof configurations on one car - hard top coupe, targa and cabriolet. Using the Mangusta name (Italian for Mongoose, the only animal that can kill a cobra), is ironic as this version is powered by a Ford SVT Cobra engine. The Qvale Mangusta offered similar performance to the Ferrari's and other sports cars of the day, going from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds, at a much lower price.
In 2001, Michael Frank of Forbes.com wrote, "Ferrari sold 1,200 cars in the United States last year, a near record annual sales figure for the exotic Italian car maker. That explains why Ferraris continue to be exceedingly rare automobiles, and this level of rarity, should you be lucky enough to own one, also explains why other drivers will gawk, oogle and generally fall all over themselves when they see you driving one of the world's most magnificent super cars. Then again, if you are one of the 200 buyers last year who bought a Qvale Mangusta, you could bet both the purchase price and the value of your mortgage on the fact that other drivers will chase you to gas stations and tailgate you on the highway, just trying to get a closer look at this rarer-than-a-Ferrari street rod."
We can attest to this as we have people driving all around us, craning their necks to try and figure out what we are when we are out on the road. Every trip to the gas station ends up with at least one person asking about the car. At car shows we are frequently told that people have attended shows for year but have never seen a Qvale (even those who have heard of it)
Powertrain: Engine - 4.6L Ford Cobra SVT V8 Transmission - BorgWarner T45 - 5 speed manual Dimensions: Wheelbase - 105.1 in. Length - 165.1 in. Width - 74.8 in. Height - 51.8 in. Curb Weight - 3,351 lbs.
Kate & Dan Morris April 2017
Specifications: Layout - Front engine, rear-wheel drive convertible Acceleration - 0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds Engine Displacement - 4601 cc Engine Type - Normally aspirated aluminum DOHC 4 valve V8 with 9.8:1 compression Peak Power - 320 bhp (239kW; 324 PS) @ 6000 rpm Peak Torque - 314 lb-ft (426 N-m) @ 4800 rpm Brakes - Brembo ventilated disks on all wheels with ABS and traction control Suspension - Double wishbones, coil springs (front and rear) Steering - Power assisted rack and pinion