Argentinian immigrant Alejandro de Tomaso started his eponymous car company in Italy 60 years ago. It soon turned out to be one of the wildest car-building enterprises the world has ever seen. Now, six decades later, the investor behind Apollo Automobil is determined to do Alejandro's legacy justice. It announced today that it's working on a new car, which is set to make its debut this summer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
In 2014, Ideal Team Ventures, the Hong Kong investment fund owned by Apollo Automobil CEO Norman Choi, paid a little over €1 million ($1.1 million) for the De Tomaso brand assets. Soon after, work began to create a new car for the brand's 60th anniversary. According to Choi, the new De Tomaso, code-named "Project P" is engineered by "the same core team behind Apollo", which suggests some involvement from AMG co-founder Hans-Werner Aufrecht's race firm HWA.
Challenged by the status quo in Italy, de Tomaso first move as an automaker was to develop a Formula One chassis he could race. After that program lead nowhere, De Tomaso created the stunning Vallelunga (pictured above), an aluminum sports car powered by a mid-mounted Ford four-cylinder. Built by Carrozzeria Fissore, this limited-production 1965 model was followed by the more grown up Mangusta, a heavily re-engined Vallelunga with a Ford V-8, and lines penned by Ghia. Then came the Ford Cleveland-powered Pantera, which was sold in Lincoln-Mercury dealerships across America, letting De Tomaso play with the big fish.
De Tomaso also built luxury cars like the Deauville and the Longchamp to compete with Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. The company bought Maserati from Citroën, and Innocenti in order to build Minis in Italy, too. And finally, who could forget Alejandro's adventures with Japan's Daihatsu?
By the late nineties, De Tomaso ran out momentum, and one cool-but-ultra-limited production car and a failed concept later, the company went bankrupt. Alejandro de Tomaso died in 2003, only to be remembered fondly even by those who really didn't want to work for him earlier. Like design master Marcello Gandini:
Other historic sports-car makers have staged comebacks at Goodwood in recent years, to varying degrees of success. Brisol and TVR both spring to mind. It would be easy to dismiss the chances of a newly revived De Tomaso, but given Apollo's progress, this team shouldn't be underestimated.