1965 De Tomaso Vallelunga—a Rare and Historic Supercar for Sale on Bring a Trailer

1965 de tomaso vallelunga
1965 De Tomaso Vallelunga for Sale on BaTBring a Trailer
  • Italian exotic-car maker De Tomaso is best known for the Pantera.

  • Before the Pantera, however, De Tomaso's first series-production car was the Vallelunga.

  • This example is said to be the first of the fiberglass-body production models, as built by Ghia.

Best known for the Ford-V-8-powered Pantera, De Tomaso Modena SpA was founded in 1959 as primarily a manufacturer of racing machines. However, Argentinian-born founder Alejandro de Tomaso, a former F1 racer, had ambitions to build very fast road cars. He would succeed with the likes of the Pantera and the Mangusta, and even seeing his company acquire Maserati in 1975. That journey began with a tiny Ford-powered sports car, the panther cub before the ferocious Pantera.

Rare and delicate, the Vallelunga is a gorgeous little mid-engine machine that was the first series-production De Tomaso. This 1965 example, up for auction on Bring a Trailer (which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos), is said to be the first built by Carrozzeria Ghia, making it the first production De Tomaso ever. A few aluminum-skinned prototypes came earlier, but this fiberglass-bodied car was the first of just 50 production models, and is thus incredibly significant.

1965 de tomaso vallelunga side
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While the Pantera followed in the footsteps of cars like the Bizzarrini 5300 GT or Iso Grifo, marrying thundering American V-8s to coachbuilt Italian bodywork, De Tomaso's first effort was all about light weight. But the power did come from Ford: a Cortina-sourced 1.5-liter Kent four-cylinder.

1965 de tomaso vallelunga rear
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Fitted with twin Weber carbs, it put out 104 horsepower, plenty enough for a 1600-pound curb weight. The four-speed transmission was built from a reversed VW gearbox, with Hewland gears. Never mind the modest power, the Vallelunga was as light as a Lotus Elan but with the engine mounted amidships for better balance. At its core, a pressed-steel backbone chassis provided strength, with control-arm suspension up front and a multilink setup in the rear. Given De Tomaso's racing experience, it's no surprise to find many cast magnesium parts throughout, including 13-inch Campagnolo wheels. Disc brakes are at all four corners and the steering is rack-and-pinion. The car takes its name from the Autodromo Vallelunga near Rome.

1965 de tomaso vallelunga engine
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This example is said to have been owned by De Tomaso marque specialist Marcel Schaub from the 1990s forward. It was recently refreshed this year, with work including a retrimming of the interior and replacement of the twin carburetors.

1965 de tomaso vallelunga interior
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This early De Tomaso is historically important and also drop-dead gorgeous. The likes of Abarth and Michelotti built similar small-displacement cars from the late 1940s to the 1960s, the catch-all term for them being etceterini. The Vallelunga is of Argentinian parentage but also with parts from Ford, Renault, and Volkswagen, but it is no less of a piece of miniature artwork, something a watchmaker might create. It's a tiny wildcat of a car with F1 and sports car racing pedigree. Head on over to Bring a Trailer to check it out in all it's perfectly proportioned elegance.

The auction ends on June 27.

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