My Car Quest

August 21, 2019

The De Tomaso P70 to Appear During Monterey Car Week

by Wallace Wyss –

Sometimes old race cars, even if they never race, have a way of re-appearing decades later. Such is the case with the 1965 De Tomaso P70.

Originally it started out as a project with partners Alejandro DeTomaso and Carroll Shelby. This was another one of Shelby’s “back door projects” because Shelby was on Ford’s payroll at this time, developing the Cobra Daytona coupes and sorting out the Ford GT40 endurance racing car.

De Tomaso P70

The De Tomaso P70 had a spoiler that would flip up at the driver.

As was Shelby’s wont, projects were kept secret until such time as he thought was appropriate. No doubt if it had succeeded as a Can Am car, he would have sought Ford’s funding and Ford could have gotten into Can Am big time (Ford had made a cut down GT40 for Can Am but it was a miserable failure and the car was rebodied into a GT40 targa and actually won Sebring, only to be cut up and buried. I know there’s one appearing at concours today but a crew member told me he was present when it was interred).

The P70 designer was Pete Brock, who had started out in Shelby’s employ as a race car driving instructor at the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving, and graduated to designing ads, T shirts and entire cars (the Daytona coupe) didn’t like Ghia’s interpretation of his drawings and took the car down the road for Fantuzzi to rebody.

De Tomaso P70

Without the skirts it’s not so memorable.

Not long after that Shelby decided he would really rather do what his bosses at Ford wanted him to do and spend money on more Daytona Cobra coupes. So he yanked his investment.

All of which angered DeTomaso who had to introduce it as the Ghia 70P. But that was actually a good idea because it promoted the name of Carrozzeria Ghia and who should, four years later belly up to the bar and buy Ghia but FoMoCo? So DeTomaso made out like a bandit from a car that never had a race victory. All of which greatly pleased his American investors, the relatives of his American heiress wife, Isabelle, who had taken a flyer and invested in DeTomaso’s businesses including Ghia.

De Tomaso P70

The original publicity picture from Ghia.

Modern “historians” claim the DeTomaso P was designed for a 7-liter which would have been Ford’s 427. But Shelby didn’t deliver the engine, though of course he had many of them back at his factory in Los Angeles, stocked there for installation in the big block Cobra. Publicity at the time claimed DeTomaso was getting over 500 hp out of a 4.7 liter iron block 289. That was the engine it was shown with.

De Tomaso P70.

New body being built by Fantuzzi for the De Tomaso P70.

The P70 ran at a race, or maybe even started a race but didn’t complete a lap. There was a variation of the car called the Sport 5000, with many detail differences, but that didn’t run many races or is at least is not well known. It has appeared at recent concours alongside its sister car, the P70.

The De Tomaso P70 will be at auction during Monterey Car Week and the brand new De Tomaso P72, a luxury GT that is reported going to retail for over $600,000, will be at Concorso Italiano.

Much of the details of what happened way back when are available in Pete Brock’s book The Road to Modena.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of two books on DeTomaso. He will be selling his art at his Art & Books booth at Concorso Italiano at Monterey. Stop by and say hello….

 
 

 

 

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The De Tomaso P70 to Appear During Monterey Car Week
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The De Tomaso P70 to Appear During Monterey Car Week
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The De Tomaso P70 designer was Pete Brock, who had started out in Shelby’s employ as a race car driving instructor at the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving.
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