Supercars On A $40,000 Budget: A Low-Production Italian With An American Heart


You might not have heard of the Mangusta, which makes it quite cool.

If you haven't heard of the Qvale Mangusta, we do not blame you. From 2000 to 2002 just 284 examples were built. The Mangusta is an Italian sports car that was originally going to be called the De Tomaso Biguá. Alejandro de Tomaso was a Formula One racing driver from Argentina who founded the Italian sports car company that bares his name. After suffering a stroke in 1993, he wanted to do something to save his company.

He called upon Maserati technical director Giordano Casarini and tasked him with building a new car. On a trip to the UK, Casarini saw the TVR Griffith and wanted to build an Italian version. The car would eventually become the Mangusta. It would borrow an engine and electronics from Ford in order to keep production costs down. The engine that was chosen was the 4.6-liter DOHC V8 from the SVT Cobra. The Mangusta almost used an engine from Holden Special Vehicles because Ford wasn't ready to sell the modular V8 to manufacturers yet. Luckily, Ford called Casarini to inform him that the engine would be available for the new car. In the Mangusta the Ford V8 produced 320 hp and 314 lb-ft of torque.

The car was available with either a five-speed BorgWarner manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. We found a manual transmission example for sale in Pennsylvania with only 19,000 miles on it. When the Mangusta was new it had a price tag of $78,900. Due to low sales 2001 models had to be marked down by as much as $10,000. Now, you can buy a Mangusta for around $40,000. Our Pearlcoat Red model with a Cappuccino interior is currently for sale for $39,900. For that amount you are getting a hand-built Italian sports car with a reliable American heart. This car was also pretty advanced for its time. The chassis was designed by former Formula 1 designer Enrique Scalabroni.

Both the front and rear suspension of the Mangusta are double wishbones with coil springs and anti-roll bars. Another unique feature of the Qvale was the "Roto-top." This advanced roof featured a removable middle panel similar to most targa-top cars. The unique part was the electronic rear section that could pivot behind the back seats to create a full convertible. With the roof down, it is easy to see that the Mangusta's interior is filled with supple Italian leather. DeTomaso had difficulty funding the car so it approached the Qvale family, who, led by Kjell Qvale, had success as a US Maserati importer. When Qvale found out that DeTomaso had a secret plan to revive the Pantera the Mangusta was re-badged as a Qvale.

The Qvale Mangusta is a car that you won't see very often. The car might have sold better if it was badged as a De Tomaso, but the obscure Qvale name probably didn't help either. Despite this, the Mangusta was actually a highly rated car when it came out.

The chassis was so good in fact, that it was used as a base for MG's flagship car, the XPower SV. For less than $40,000, it is hard to believe that you can by such a low-production Italian sports car. If you're looking for an intro into exotic Italian sports cars this might be the way to go.


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