My Car Quest

August 10, 2020

Why Not The De Tomaso Longchamp?

by Mike Gulett –

Alejandro de Tomaso was Argentinean but his cars were Italian with American power and oh, some of his cars were styled by an American working for an Italian design firm. Got it?

When I think of De Tomaso I think of beautiful, exotic mid-engined Italian sports cars with powerful Ford V8 engines. The most successful being the Pantera with about 7,260 made, most originally sold in the US. The style was by American Tom Tjaarda of Ghia.

The most beautiful De Tomaso, in my opinion, is the Mangusta with 401 produced between 1967 and 1971. The styling was by Giorgetto Giugiaro also with Ghia at the time. The Mangusta has a reputation for being a difficult car to drive and live with but that is beside the point for this story. My point is that when most of us think about De Tomaso we think either Pantera or Mangusta (maybe some think about the Vallelunga but not too many).

De Tomaso Longchamp

De Tomaso Longchamp Series 1

De Tomaso Longchamp GTS

De Tomaso Longchamp Series 2 GTS

We usually do not think about the De Tomaso Longchamp (a 2+2 coupe based on the Deauville 4-door sedan) or even less so about the Deauville itself. The Longchamp was introduced at the Turin Motor Show in 1972 and there were 395 Longchamp coupes and 14 convertibles made between 1972 and 1989. Tom Tjaarda of Ghia also styled both the Longchamp and the Deauville. The convertibles were modified by the Italian company Carrozerria Pavesi.

The engine is the powerful Ford 351 Cleveland V8 as used in the Pantera. The standard transmission is a 3-speed Ford C-6 Cruise-o-Matic automatic. There were about 17 Longchamps that were equipped with a 5-speed ZF manual. The Longchamp has independent front and rear suspension and vented disc brakes with the rear being inboard plus power assisted steering. It seems both comfort and performance were part of the package.

The Longchamp GTS was introduced at the 1980 Turin Motor Show. The GTS had wider wheels with flared wheel arches and minor suspension differences to utilize the wider Campagnolo wheels with Pirelli P7 tires.

I ask why not think about the Longchamp if you are interested in a classic Italian 2+2 coupe with a powerful American V8 placed in the front?

The Longchamp reminds me of the Iso Rivolta GT. It is the same formula; Italian Style 2+2 coupe with American power. In the case of the Iso Rivolta the style is by Giugiaro when he was with Bertone, the power is from the Corvette 327 cid placed up front.

De Tomaso Longchamp

The De Tomaso Longchamp is an update of the successful Iso formula coming along about 10 years after the Iso Rivolta. The age difference is reflected in the body style with the Rivolta being smooth and rounded and the Longchamp being angular and sharp edged (see the slide show comparison below). There were about half the number of Longchamps made as the Iso Rivolta (409 Longchamps to 799 Iso Rivoltas). Most Longchamps were equipped with automatic transmissions while most Iso Rivoltas had manual transmissions.

De Tomaso Longchamp

The Longchamp is rare in the US because it was not sold in the US originally like the Iso Rivolta. Based on the numbers produced one would think there are fewer Longchamps than Iso Rivoltas left on the road. But I am not so sure.

What do you Iso lovers think of the De Tomaso Longchamp as an alternative to the Iso Rivolta GT?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

De Tomaso Longchamp

The slide show below compares the Longchamp to the Iso Rivolta body style.

De Tomaso Longchamp Convertible

De Tomaso Logo

Summary
Why Not The De Tomaso Longchamp?
Article Name
Why Not The De Tomaso Longchamp?
Description
The De Tomaso Longchamp is an update of the successful Iso Rivolta formula coming along about 10 years after the Iso Rivolta GT. The age difference is reflected in the body style with the Rivolta being smooth and rounded and the Longchamp being angular and sharp edged.
Author

Comments

  1. Robb Northrup says

    Hey Mike:

    You may want to mention that the Maserati Kyalami was de Tomaso’s adaptation of the Longchamp to the Maserati line after he had taken over that company. Both cars very underrated. But both are very good GTs.

  2. Robb,

    I believe the Maserati Kyalami shared the same chassis as the Longchamp and the body style is similar. I agree both are under appreciated.

  3. SKIP HINOJOS says

    I CAN’T UNDERSTAND WHY DE TOMASO, WOULD BOTHER TO BUILD SUCH A MUNDANE CAR, AFTER THE STYLISH ONES THEY HAD BUILT BEFORE? TO WHAT END?

    • Skip,

      De Tomaso made the Longchamp for the same reason that Iso made the Rivolta GT and the Lele in addition to the Grifo A3/C and Grifo GL and Lamborghini made the Espada & Islero in addition to the Miura and Countach.

      I could go on and on but you get the point – different strokes for different drivers…

    • Ivan Ruiz says

      I own a Kyalami (4.9 liter, 5-speed) and I definitely would not call it mundane. Fast, well built and great for long drives. The Kyalami is parked next to a Pantera, an Iso Grifo, and a few others. The Pantera is a fun car but best used for shorter drives. The Grifo is, well … perfect ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ivan,

        Thanks for the comments from a Kyalami owner. I suspect that Longchamp owners would provide a similar report. What you wrote is how I describe the driving experience with my Lamborghini Espada.

        The purpose of this article was to introduce collectors who desire an Iso Rivolta GT to the De Tomaso Longchamp as an alternative. The Rivolta GT is rare on the market but there are a few Longchamps for sale now in Europe. I receive occasional inquiries looking for an Iso Rivolta and now I do not know of any publicly available.

        • Ivan,

          In response to your comment about your Iso Grifo. I took my Grifo on a drive from the South Bay to the San Francisco Presidio in 2010 to attend a concours. It was about a 120 mile round trip and was a great drive. Here is a photo in the parking lot.

          • Ivan Ruiz says

            Mike,
            I was planning on driving “your” Grifo this year in the Pebble Beach Motoring Classic, which is a 1,600 mile drive from Seattle to Monterey … obviously not in a straight line ๐Ÿ™‚ Unfortunately that drive will have to wait until 2021. Other than a failed rear wheel bearing, this car has been super reliable, You can sit in traffic in the middle of summer, with the AC on, and the engine temperature will not exceed 180 degrees.

  4. Ivan,

    I know you were scheduled to make that drive in the Grifo and I was looking forward to seeing it again (and you too).

    That is a great engine for sure.

  5. Wallace Wyss says

    Incidentally Deauville and Longchamp are French horse racing tracks. Isabelle and her sister Hope were horse breeders before Isabelle took up car racing. This 2017 story says her latest horse War Cry has a real future.

    https://nypost.com/2017/05/05/new-jerseys-horse-racing-queen-was-also-pioneer-behind-the-wheel/

Speak Your Mind

*