My Car Quest

February 21, 2024

The Sad Last Days of De Tomaso

These pictures may provoke more questions than answers…

by Wallace Wyss –

In an ideal world, I’d like to think that, when an automaker phases out production, and hangs it up, that all is done neatly, with the final car rolling out of the factory gates to the blaring of trumpets, dancing girls a-dancin’, champagne corks a-poppin,’ the whole nine yards.

De Tomaso

But apparently at De Tomaso in Modena, Italy it was a ragged ending, reminiscent of Berlin in ’45—with the workers leaving abruptly and cars left unfinished on the factory floor.

De Tomaso

Looks like recent model

De Tomaso Factory

Looks like production cars to me

Apparently there was a car still on the line, one introduced at Frankfurt Motor Show in 1999, proposed to be the year 2000 model De Tomaso Pantera. I have no idea what the engine was, a V6 or V8.

The design has been credited to Marcello Gandini who strove to make a design that was somewhat in line with the old Pantera designed by American-in-Italy Tom Tjaarda (pronounced JAR-DUH).

De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Pantera

In October 2016 there was an announcement in Italy that a Tribunal in Turin accepted the request of 300 former De Tomaso workers to form part of the bankruptcy process following De Tomaso’s failure.

Among the accused are the former patron of the car manufacturer, Gian Mario Rossignolo and his son Gianluca. Rossignolo purchased the De Tomaso brand (sold in July of the same year at a lower price than that realized by previous auction in July 2007).

De Tomaso Factory

But he failed and the government, represented by the Piedmont region, then ruled by Mercedes Bresso, acquired the Pininfarina plant in Grugliasco for 14.4 million Euros in 2010, assigning it to rent at De Tomaso Automobili S.p.A. Gian Mario Rossignolo was later put under house arrest.


I was rather shocked to read one account in an Italian paper of a fan who went to the abandoned factory, loaded up a body from one of these unfinished cars and drove away with it.

De Tomaso Factory

De Tomaso Factory

De Tomaso Factory

My question is: who owns these cars? Are they finished cars with manufacturer’s SN plates? What engines do they have? As regards the first question I would hope the unfinished cars can be sold so the workers can be paid. We live in hope (spoken by the son of a UAW worker).

De Tomaso Book

Apparently what set the De Tomaso works into a death spiral as a company was a venture with the Russians on a SUV that failed, coupled by De Tomaso himself having a stroke, which left him so unintelligible that he had to speak through someone who thought they could decipher what he was saying. He died in May, 2003 at the age of 74.

His widow, the former Isabelle Haskell, once a race driver herself, doesn’t seem to be involved in wanting to keep the factory producing cars. In fact, there was news in horse racing circles in 2017 that she, at age 86, is experiencing success with a race horse TDN Rising Star’ Irish War Cry.

Hey, racing is racing….

Let us know what you think about De Tomaso in the Comments.

UPDATE – this photo has been sent in by the author – see his comment in the Comment section.

Ferrari Testarossa

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, who cowboys at a thoroughbred farm in California, is the co-author with David and Linda Adler of a now out of print book, De Tomaso Pantera, on De Tomaso (Enthusiast Books).

Wallace Wyss

Wallace Wyss Sitting on Something Expensive



De Tomaso Logo

The Sad Last Days of De Tomaso
Article Name
The Sad Last Days of De Tomaso
Apparently at De Tomaso in Modena, Italy it was a ragged ending, reminiscent of Berlin in ’45—with the workers leaving abruptly and cars left unfinished on the factory floor.


  1. italian law is a strange thing..proper strange. thats why mafia became successful as they had sense.
    same history as TVR..get new russian money and promises and the russian soon moves onto a new venture.
    proper thing de tomato. built lots of little cars with bmc-british leyland ..the uk workers could not pronounce de tomaso so they called them de tomato.
    at the time when unions ruled the uk no defunkt car industry..silly things like gears and pistons left out of power plants made de tomato go to tender to find new power plant partner..and diahatsu won contract with a lovely petrol 3 cylinder lightweight and 5 speed box..later tubo charged and diesel units..
    we fitted many of said units into classic mini coopers including the turbo diesel..easy fit as driveshafts in same place..

    • Georgeg20 says

      Speaking of Russian venture capital, guess who Castiglioni’s new partners are in the MV Augusta? It appears that Castiglioni shunned the AMG and went with the Russian investment. I don’t know all the details, just the bits and pieces I picked up on the internet.

    • “italian law is a strange thing..proper strange. thats why mafia became successful as they had sense”

      Please, speak with respect.
      The mafia is also successful in the US; so American law is weird too?
      Commonplaces like tomatoes, pasta and pizza are used by ignorant and disrespectful people.
      If you are not able to construct meaningful speeches, without xenophobia and racism, it is better to keep silent, you make a better impression.

  2. Good morning,
    I’m the owner of the DeTomaso Nuova Pantera and the DeTomaso Guara’ Barchetta Master.
    I can send more info and pictures about this history.
    I’m waiting.
    Gabriele Candrini

  3. John R G Webster says

    My Brother Andrew and I owned one each in the seventies both right hand drive, mine red, Andrews a white one. I was the owners club secretary and gathered a few enthusiasts. Is adverts in motor sport and such. Mine was featured in magazines and a London car show. A very sexy car but useless to use, and if only I had kept it in a show case in the house with 10,000 miles on it what would it be worth today as a work of art only.

    But still we owned two of them! amongst our cars.

    Those who have one or two, enjoy.

    John Webster

  4. Today, while attending the Pantera Palooza event, Linda and I met Mr. Tom Kim from De Tomaso Automobil Limited, based in Hong Kong. Mr. Kim informs us that his company will be offering new Panteras for sale, possibly later this year. The new Panteras are based upon the GT5-S body style, not a new design. The cars will have an extended rear section of the body measuring 8 inches larger than the original car, that will house a Roush V8 producing over 600 horsepower and a Ricardo 6-speed transmission. 325 of the new Panteras will be produced for U.S. consumption and over 200 of them are already spoken for. The car will be built in South Africa where it is being safety-tested at this moment. Prices will start at $275,000 to $325,000 USD. No photos were available for publication at this time. The company will use the logo shown below this post instead of the original Isis logo. As soon as we can obtain any photographs of the new car, we will post them here. If any of our Group Members can add to the above information, I would invite you to post it. The company website will be: Steve Wilkinson introduced us to Mr. Kim. We wish this new venture much success.

    • Wallace Wyss says

      I thought the way to go would be for Lincoln to take DeTomaso in-house and run it as a sub group the way Mercedes did AMG. Dave, can you publish here an e-mail address so people with info, can use, I think you will be a good conduit of information to help get this marque revived

  5. wallace wyss says

    If they go for a wide body I hope it has the dramatic impact of the Koenig Testarossa spyder conversion. I don’t like the old Testarossa coupe anymore (those strakes really did not age well as a design cue) but the wide body one with deep dish wheels still has a macho appeal, I think. And I wonder if it’s Koenig who had the idea of seeing the engine through a clear cover? Anyway I agree, about 8″ wide per side, but only in the section aft of the doors. I wish they could make the nose look like the chrome bumper days but bumper laws may dictate something else

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