My Car Quest

August 21, 2019

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines – The Story of a Book

by Wallace Wyss –

This is not a new book. It is instead a story of how a book came about and what happened to it before it (almost) disappeared into the sands of time.

I had been working for David and Linda Adler in Huntington Beach, CA on their Pantera International magazine when they announced they had enough background material to do a book on DeTomaso.

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines

They were staunch DeTomaso fans and owned the first DeTomaso car ever made, a Formula One single seater, a Longchamp coupe and a racing Group 3 Pantera, which is how I met them at Carmel when they were street driving the full race, unmuffled car called “Whiplash.”

They wanted to go first class on a book and fortunately, at the time, there was absolutely no Pantera book on the market. I forget if they found the printer or I did but we did go for hardbound printing, and a color section.

The goal was to summarize the exciting life of Alejandro deTomaso (properly last name should start with a small “d”) and his wife Isabelle Haskell.

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines

DeTomaso rarely smiled. Ford groomed his image when they partnered with him on the Pantera.

The couple had met in 1959 at a parts counter in Italy. Both were racing Italian cars. He a refugee from Argentina where he had fled the goods on Juan Peron, who was mad that DeTomaso had criticized him in print. She, a wealthy sportswoman from New Jersey who not only raised thoroughbred horses but got into sports car racing in the early ‘50s.

They were an improbably couple, she tall and blonde, he short and dark haired, a descendant of Italians but born and raised in Argentina.

She was his second wife, his first wife an Argentinian. He divorced her soon after meeting Isabelle.

When doing the book I was fortunate to be able to talk to Tom Tjaarda, a tall quiet American who had gone to Italy straight out of U of M’s architecture school to work on a show display for a coachbuilder and ended up working his entire life in Italy. He is most known for the years he spent at Ghia, designing the Pantera, and for other DeTomaso cars including the Deauville (a Jaguar copy) the Longchamp (a Mercedes copy) and various one off show cars.

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines

Isabelle was so determined to race that she went to the UK to get a race driver’s license.

Fortunately for Tom, Ford bought Ghia carrozzeria, I say “fortunate” because DeTomaso was a little slow on paying and Tjaarda even had to go to court to get paid.

I even went to Argentina, (where I wish I could say I danced the tango) but my meeting with the great Juan Manuel Fangio was disappointing in that he wouldn’t spill the beans on DeTomaso’s early career in Argentina.

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines

It was a society wedding.

A good decade after the book was published, DeTomaso took another stab at a mid-engined sports car, a car I’ll call the “last Pantera”, a prototype that DeTomaso posed with in 1999, when he was wheelchair bound and so crippled nobody could quite understand what he was saying.

The book had a chapter on each major car they had created from 1959 to 1991 and at first Tjaarda is “under the shadow” of his predecessor Giorgetto Giugiaro, the genius who designed the Mangusta, but after Giugiaro leaves to start Ital Design, he comes into his own as a major designer.

It was mind boggling writing about DeTomaso because I couldn’t get two opinions the same on him, no matter who I talked to. This was so unlike Shelby, who I had profiled previously in several books, as DeTomaso was not universally well liked in the automotive field or in Italy where he was resented from the get-go because he was Argentinian. His business style was to selectively irk his competitors, such as the time he bought Benelli, a motorcycle firm, and built a prototype six cylinder using parts from several Honda motorcycle engines.

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines

The mid engined Vallelunga was the first DeTomaso street offering.

Another time he found a picture of the Fiat X1/9 prototype and had Tjaarda design a look alike car which he premiered first.

His own race car driving ambitions having ended in 1959, (he did compete at LeMans, as did his race driving wife) he never appeared to have the zeal to campaign racing teams, any such plans finally killed off with the death of his aristocratic British driver Piers Courage in a DeTomaso Grand Prix car. So, even though he was in the same town as Ferrari, he achieved little success with his marque in racing compared to the successes of his erstwhile rival, Enzo Ferrari.

The book was published back in 1991, and sold well for awhile, then was forgotten, as was the DeTomaso marque except for staunch owner’s clubs in the US and the UK.

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines

DeTomaso with the last car started when he was still in charge. It never became a running car.

Over 7,000 Panteras were imported to the US, from 1971 to 1974 so many survive. Few of the subsequent cars were imported here, though one front engine U.S.-certified one was called the Mangusta but it had none of the character of the mid-engined Mangusta. It was a flop, not to mention the ownership of the car having reverted to its American-based investor Kjell Qvale who re-named it the Qvale Mangusta.

The book ended with DeTomaso still alive and still hatching new plans and adding companies to his portfolio, including Maserati (which he bought for the price of one mag wheel). I didn’t update the book but instead wrote another DeTomaso book with David and Linda Adler coming in as co-authors, that book was softbound and is out of print.

I am glad to hear that Mrs. DeTomaso, now a widow, is out and about in 2019, having rejoined the horse breeding field and currently fielding a horse called War Cry that has definite winner’s DNA, like we’re talking Derby potential.

We’ll see if that new car, the DeTomaso P72, being introduced August 15th by the German firm that bought DeTomaso, the marque, raises the ante on the value of old DeTomaso cars and builds interest in the marque as an Italian alternative to Ferrari and Lamborghini–a level that DeTomaso was never quite able to reach.

But if you want the story such as it was up to 1991, you might be glad to hear that the original 1991 first edition that I authored is still available. I will be offering them at my Art & Books booth at Concorso Italiano in Seaside (suburb of Monterey) August 17th during Monterey Car Week.

Price $100 each. Oh, and free mailing in the U.S. if you want to mail order one.

For ordering info send an email to – mendoart7@gmail.com

DETOMASO – THE MAN AND THE MACHINES

· Availability: In Stock

· Author: Wallace Alfred Wyss

· ISBN: 9780962968204

· Size: 273.00 x 205.00

· Publisher: Adler Publishing

· Publication Year: 1991

· Edition: 1st Edition

· Revised: No

· Reprint: No

· Language: English

· Pages: 255

· Illustrations: Black and White and Color

· Format: Hardback – With Dustjacket

· Condition Book: Fine

· Condition Dust Jacket: Fine

For ordering info send an email to – mendoart7@gmail.com

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
 
 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of 18 car histories. As a fine artist, he will be exhibiting at the Concorso Italiano in the Art & Books booth.

 
 
 

 

 

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines

The first picture in the book showed DeTomaso as he was when younger, test driving a prototype without even a helmet.

DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines

The Adler’s own racing Pantera – the car they were driving when I met them.

De Tomaso Logo

Summary
DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines  - The Story of a Book
Article Name
DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines - The Story of a Book
Description
I had been working for David and Linda Adler in Huntington Beach, CA on their Pantera International magazine when they announced they had enough background material to do a book on DeTomaso.
Author

Comments

  1. Randy Cox says

    I remember the book as though it were yesterday!
    You had interviewed me about my 1969 Mangusta, and we spent hours researching the history and facts about the car..

    If you don’t have a copy of this book and you have even a small interest in DeTomaso, I would suggest that you get a copy! A really nice look at a man who certainly did it his way.

    All the Best

    Randy Cox.

  2. Gord Dewhurst says

    After reading this I got out my copy to have another look. Mine was signed by yourself, Linda Adler and Lance Mist on Feb 15, 1992. A friend of mine who owned 4 Panteras at the time aquired one for himself and one for me . I believe that was a launch party for the book but I may be wrong

  3. Wallace,

    I’d like to order the book. I just finished reading the book on “Intermeccanica” and look forward to more stories about another automobile maverick.

    What is the title of the second book?

    Cheers

  4. wallace wyss says

    Hi Phil: I got the title, and haven’t seen one in quite a while but will find out tomorrow if I can buy some new old stock ones. Here’s the info on the book from Amazon.com but I’ll beat their price ( I got a story about how much I underestimated Amazon I’ll have to tell some time…)
    ww

    DeTomaso Pantera Paperback – November 10, 2006
    by David Adler (Author), Linda Adler (Author), Wallace Wyss (Author) 3.2 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
    See all formats and editions
    Paperback
    from $100.00
    7 Used from $175.22
    4 New from $100.00

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    Editorial Reviews
    About the Author
    David and Linda Adler’s involvement with DeTomaso automobiles can be traced back to 1968 when they saw an early prototype of the Mangusta in front of their record shop in Long Beach, California. When circumstances permitted, they made the bold decision in 1974 to actually purchase a Mangusta. Once owners,their romance with this intriguing and powerful mid-engine exotic became a focal point of thier lives. In 1991 they became the directors of Pantera International, the earliest and largest DeTomaso marque club.

    David and Linda Adler’s involvement with DeTomaso automobiles can be traced back to 1968 when they saw an early prototype of the Mangusta in front of their record shop in Long Beach, California. When circumstances permitted, they made the bold decision in 1974 to actually purchase a Mangusta. Once owners,their romance with this intriguing and powerful mid-engine exotic became a focal point of thier lives. In 1991 they became the directors of Pantera International, the earliest and largest DeTomaso marque club.

    The Adler’s publish a quarterly color magazine about DeTomaso automobiles, with Wallace A. Wyss serving as the Editor-in-Chief of the club magazine. Wallace’s in-depth book, DeTomaso, the Man and the Machines is the leading authority on DeTomaso automobiles.

    Product details
    Paperback: 96 pages
    Publisher: Iconografix; First Edition edition (November 10, 2006)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1583881778
    ISBN-13: 978-1583881774
    Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.3 x 9 inches
    Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
    Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,054,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
    #1165 in Classic Cars (Books)
    #1021 in Automotive Pictorial Books

  5. Great, I’ll wait to hear back from you.

    I contacted Lita and I am purchasing DeTomaso: The Man and His Machines .

    Thanks

  6. Joe Jarick says

    I purchased a copy at Pebble Beach Concours in 1992 and you were kind enough to inscribe and autograph my copy. Than you. Regards, Joe

  7. Joe Corbacio says

    De Tomaso hated this book. During a Pantera club trip to Modena in ‘96. We were having dinner at La Secchia Repita under the Hotel Canal Grande where De Tomaso lived. He had a private section blocked off from the rest of the dining room with 2 large bodyguards at the entrance. I was sitting on a bench after dinner just outside the entrance when David Adler approached one of the bodyguards to ask if he would have De Tomaso sign the book. I knew that he didn’t like the book, but really didn’t think much of it.

    Within a few minutes a loud commotion came from the private dining room, even confined to a wheelchair from the stroke, patch over his one eye, and barely able to speak legibly there was no mistaking this man was pissed off. The bodyguards wheeled him out to his private elevator, a bodyguard handed the book back to David. David attempted to approach De Tomaso with the book, realizing what set De Tomaso off I grabbed David by the arm and sat him down on the bench next to me until the elevator door closed. David was a bit confused at what just happened, not knowing that De Tomaso hated the book.

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