My Car Quest

April 17, 2024

Tom Goes For A Ride In A Mangusta

by Mike –

Dick Ruzzin’s new book, Bella Mangusta, The Italian Art and Design of the De Tomaso Mangusta is available now at this link – click here.

Bella Mangusta by Dick Ruzzin

The book is designed to appeal to automobile enthusiasts of all kinds as well as art and design lovers. The large full color images are stunning, automotive design terms are included and defined for students. The text is an entertaining and informative description of the design of the car and includes details about its mechanical content and construction. The artistic character and content of the design is featured.


The article below, written by Dick Ruzzin, was originally published on My Car Quest in March 2014.

Text by Dick Ruzzin

This is a story that I have been wanting to write for a while, every word is true, the names are changed slightly or left out.

Janet’s Lunch, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan

One day after going to the hardware store I walked across the street to Janets for a coffee. The place was like going back in time as it was about a hundred years old and a little frayed around the edges, like a favorite book. There were a lot of nice and interesting people that frequented the place including the owners Bob and Alison, as well as all who worked there. I sat at the u-shaped counter next to a fellow that I had been introduced to earlier as Tom.

We talked, he had lived in Detroit all his life, had experience in the car selling business in the fifties as a young man and still had a lot of enthusiasm for it. He stayed up on what was going on in the industry and we would exchange theories about the whys and wherefores of the car business.

He had no idea what he was in for

He seemed on some kind of diet but would always order an extra carry out breakfast for his dog, eggs, toast and bacon. One day he asked me what I was doing for the weekend. I told him that I was going to a little car gathering at Pasteiners store over on Woodward Avenue on Saturday morning in the Mangusta. He had never seen it but asked if he could go with me, I was surprised but was happy to have him.

Later I thought of how bizarre that it would be for him, riding six inches off the pavement in a car forty inches high, motor sounds from behind, all of this very different from his Lincoln sedan. He had no idea what he was in for and I hoped it would not be too much.

De Tomaso Mangusta - Dick Ruzzin

Dick Ruzzin’s De Tomaso Mangusta

A ride in the Mangusta

Saturday at 8am I parked in front of his house and went to knock on the door, he was ready. It was a beautiful morning, sunny with a bright blue sky and a few puffy white clouds, a little cool, perfect for a cruise as there would not be much traffic. The red Mangusta contrasted with the green grass, shrubs and trees of Grosse Pointe and after Tom told me that my car was “The lowest car that I ever got into”, we drove off toward I-94.

When you have someone else with you in your car you see, hear and feel things that normally just skip by as part of the ride. After working on it for years getting every single aesthetic and mechanical thing exactly as you want it you eventually find yourself driving and enjoying all the effort usually by yourself. You are always by yourself when you are tuning or adjusting whatever.

We took the east down ramp to I-94 off of Vernier Road and I ran the engine to 6000 in second and then coasted back down to 55 mph in fifth as that was the speed limit in the city. We drove along talking and I noticed that an SUV that passed us had a wheel opening that was taller than my car. We talked above the exhaust noise and he told me about a Facel Vega that he had washed for a dealer customer where he worked during high school.

Great cars

He recalled that it had a Hemi engine. We arrived at Pasteiners, there was a good crowd and a lot of great cars, as always. Later I saw him excitedly talking with a small group, he told me that he had met someone else who knew of the Facel Vega. We had a nice calm drive home and I enjoyed his company but I secretly suspected that the trip might have been a little stressful even though he said that he had really enjoyed himself.

Time went on, the following spring he again asked me what I was doing for the week end, I told him that the Mangusta had been invited to Eyes On Design at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House on Sunday which was a short distance away. We talked about shows in the area and I decided to ask him if he would like to go with me in the morning as my wife was going to join me later.

He said he would like to very much as he had never been in a show or gone to one. He would have to leave early as he had an afternoon commitment. I picked him up again, the car was extra clean and shiny and we drove to the Ford House.

Lakeshore Drive

We had a nice ride along Lakeshore Drive and then entered the grounds, drove on a path through a small shady woods and around to the large meadow between the trees in front of the house. A magnificent place, it was already filled with over two hundred cars of every kind and age imaginable. We parked in our show spot between a Dino Ferrari and a Lamborghini Espada, two of my favorite cars.

The show provided breakfast and then a nice lunch later and I introduced him to a lot of people. After lunch he apologized as he had to leave, someone was picking him up to go to a special birthday party of a friend that he had gone to kindergarten with, in fact the friend had spent a lot of time right there at the Ford House.

About a month later I saw Tom again, he looked great, healthy and in good spirits. He asked if I ever went back to Pasteiners on Woodward, that he would like to go again.
I was pleased to hear that, I was afraid that the howling trip on the freeway had been too much.

I told him that I could not do it that week end as I was rebuilding the shift linkage in the car but that as soon as I had it back together I would call him. He said “Please do”. Tom recounted that he had really enjoyed the trip as well as meeting everyone and seeing the cars. I felt really good about that and looked forward to calling him.

Two weeks later I went for a coffee and Alison asked me if I had heard about Tom. I said no. He had died of cancer a few days before. I was shocked….

I only had a few brief experiences with Tom as described here but later I realized the enormity and significance of his last request. He was fighting cancer and did not know how long he would live, yet he wanted to have one more car experience, one more trip to visit Pasteiners and the cars and people that collect there every Saturday morning.

De Tomaso Mangusta - Dick Ruzzin

Tom standing in front of the Mangusta

Share your car

What is the point of this story? Here is what I learned from Tom, share your car, take a friend, neighbor, a business acquaintance or even a stranger for a ride and then do it again. Do not let your car be something that people see but are never able to experience. You will never regret it and it will add great value and satisfaction to all the work that you have done to make your car the machine that fulfills your dreams.

I guarantee that you will be rewarded. Of all those that will ride with you, surely some will catch the fever and it will enhance their lives forever.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Dick Ruzzin, Mangusta 8MA670, has spent much of his life designing cars for General Motors. During his career he worked on over 140 car design projects as creative designer, studio head, and Director of Design for GM Europe, in Germany, and Chevrolet, in the United States.



Bella Mangusta by Dick Ruzzin

Tom Goes For A Ride In A Mangusta
Article Name
Tom Goes For A Ride In A Mangusta
Dick Ruzzin says share your special car with a friend, a neighbor, a business acquaintance or even a stranger.


  1. Darren Frank says

    Dick, couldn’t agree more! Thanks for your wonderful story!

    I was once invited by my Hagerty rep to show my Iso Grifo at a hospital car show for terminally ill kids who seldom leave their hospital rooms. I let each of them sit inside my car and honk the air horns! They had a blast, and so did I. You can read about it if you look on Hagerty’s site (Presbyterian Hospital car show).


  2. Herbert Putz says

    Great and touching story for reflection! And great car of course …

    Herbert Putz (Mangusta 8MA1106)

  3. Hear hear!
    There is such a buzz from how much pleasure people can get from a simple kindness.
    A recent bonus was that after I popped a couple of kids in my miura, their Mom asked if she could enjoy “a secret pleasure to sit in such a car”.
    Boy, in there, she had a smile to knock your socks off.
    Shame I didn’t get the pic of that!

  4. I would like to volunteer myself to be a friend that rides along. The lowest car I have ever ridden in is a 1965 Porsche 911. Which I thoroughly enjoyed. 🙂

  5. Wayne Watkins says

    When I got my red Mangusta in 1980 , I took it home and took my 5 year old son for a ride and only this afternoon we were together in a jazz pub in Sydney and he mentioned cars I should never have sold . First car mentioned was the Mangusta . So imagine my joy at arriving home this evening and reading your story about Tom’s Mangusta . My son is now 42 and he still remembers that car with its deafening roar . I then took it to my old High School friend’s house and terrified him all those years ago . Never ever saw it again after I sold it and it was RHD and one of only four sold new in Australia .

  6. My special moment, since I don’t have children, was taking my nephew up in a rented airplane and turning it over to him. Besides knowing where we were almost all of the time (that’s rare) he did a good job managing his flying. Next time I saw him he had grown about a foot taller, the rental was gone and he couldn’t fit into my own airplane. It’s good to treat those opportunities as perhaps your last.

  7. I still remember the day I was enjoying an adult beverage with several friends at TGI Fridays. Parked outside was my 1961 MGA Twin Cam. An older gentleman was standing beside it and was just staring with a glazed look in his eyes. I became concerned and walked out to ask him what he was doing. It was not a glazed look, but tears in his eyes. He was lamenting the fact that he had never been able to afford or enjoy a vintage automobile. He said the MGA was one of his favorites. I offered to take him for a ride and you had thought I had given him a million dollars. He gladly accepted and we went on a 15 minute ride around the city. He could not stop thanking me. I think I got more out of it than he did. Like the man said: Share your experience, share your passion, it is contagious.

    • Wayne Watkins says

      Hi Steve , sorry if this is a little off track , but I have a friend in Sydney who desperately needs an MGA Twin Cam block as his has a huge hole in it . Transport to Australia is no problem . Any tips on US blocks or engines would be a great help . Thanks Wayne Watkins .

      • Wayne,

        Wish I could help you, but I would have to say the block you are looking for is made of “unobtainium.” Sorry I cannot be of more help


  8. Well written. Thanks very much.

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