My Car Quest

May 30, 2024

Vintage: The DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder to be Auctioned in Monterey

by Wallace Wyss –

We have been wondering when DeTomaso race cars will enjoy the price escalation of Ferraris, Maseratis, etc. but so far they haven’t. But the owners of the few race cars built by the wily Argentine and his American wife keep on appearing in auctions but not breaking the million dollar barrier.

DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder

RM-Sothebys is the latest to announce they will field the DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder in an auction. Of course it’ a little hard to write a glowing description of its accomplishments when only a single example was built, and it only drove in a single race.

This information comes from Mecum which put the car in an auction earlier in 2021 when it failed to sell.

They tell of Shelby developing the King Cobra using a British Cooper Monaco chassis and a Ford 289 in ’63. Even though he was being paid by Ford to race the Cobra this was a side job, because he knew Ford was trying to develop a mid-engined car and wanted to show he had the skills to do that too.

The King Cobra was initially successful but soon left in the dust by faster competition. Carroll Shelby was by that time a friend of fellow race driver turned car builder Alejandro de Tomaso.

DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder

They decided to build a prototype car for the future Can Am races around a Ford V8. Shelby sent his wunderkind designer, Pete Brock, who had been a GM design intern at the age of 19, to Italy to work on it. Brock had made a drawing which had two interesting ideas–rear skirts and a large rear wing with a center portion that changed angle of attack at the driver’s behest.

Alejandro de Tomaso premiered a version that Brock didn’t like so a second try was made at bodybuilder Fantuzzi with Brock flying over to Italy to Fantuzzi’s and working on it. The Mecum description says “the 289 Ford V8 small-block engine (4.7 liters) (turned) into a thoroughbred racing powerplant with seven liters of displacement (427 cubic inches)” but my understanding was that it was a highly modified 289. It would make no sense to try to stretch a 289 into a 427 when there was already a 427 Ford V8.

But it’s a moot point as Ford, failing miserably with the GT40 in ’64, asked Shelby to come and work on the ’65 GT40 which would use a 427, and Shelby left DeTomaso hanging. Then DeTomaso renamed the car and introduced it as a Ghia prototype 70P as he had bought carrozzeria Ghia.

DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder

Mecum said that “due to the consistent design for the Can-Am regulations, the De Tomaso wasn’t eligible for the FIA Group 7 regulations, which were valid in Europe. The Italians therefore frantically developed the car into the Sport 5000 Roadster. All it needed for that was a higher windshield, real doors and the use of the original 289 Ford engine, it was finally allowed to compete in FIA Group 7. Thanks to four Weber twin carburetors, aluminium cylinder heads, special camshafts and good engine tuning, around 475 hp was available.” This is not an unreasonable amount of power to claim. The trans was still the five-speed transmission from Colotti.

Mecum said that, on July 17, 1966, it competed in the 500 kilometers of Mugello with test and development driver Roberto Bussinello behind the wheel. After a good start, he pitted and that was that. In 1967, the car was entered in the 12 Hours of Sebring and also in the 1000-kilometer race in Monza, but never showed up.

It was only after DeTomaso’s death in 2004 that the Sport 5000 Roadster was revived. Mecum says it was driven in some historic racing events.

DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder

The car will be at Monterey at RM Sotheby’s auction. Previously I wrote of a race car that only had one race–the 24 hours of LeMans–failed to win, and was hidden from view for 40 plus years. But it still came out into the sun and sold for more than a million dollars. In that one race, it ran competitively until it pitted. It was the Serenissima P538, also a mid-engine car, but more of a purebred running with a Serenissima engine not an off the shelf V8 originally made for a Mustang or Falcon. I think the Sport 5000 will need more bolstering of its history to be up in the price range of that Serenissima. Saying that a car was entered in a race but failed to show up is not much of a pedigree compared to entering, showing up and running.

Ironically the Serenissima was bought by the owner of WeatherTech who sponsors WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR Wallace Wyss is the author of three books on DeTomaso.


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Photos compliments of RM Sotheby’s.
Vintage: The DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder to be Auctioned in Monterey
Article Name
Vintage: The DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder to be Auctioned in Monterey
RM Sothebys is the latest to announce they will field the DeTomaso Sport 5000 Spyder race car in an auction during Monterey Car Week.


  1. Wes Stewart says

    “This information comes from Mecum which put the car in an auction earlier in 2021 when it failed to sell.”

    Maybe they should have dusted it off first.

  2. wallace wyss says

    It may have been in that period when “rolled out of the barn dirt and all” was popular at auctions to make a car appear more of a barn find

  3. peter brock says

    In late ’64 DeTomaso claimed to Shelby he could make a 427 from a bored and stroked 289 but later discovered that wasn’t possible so a competitive 7 liter engine based on the 289 small block never appeared. (it was only later when Ford made the 351 with more deck height that a 7 liter was possible) By then the chassis was obsolete. Without a 7 liter engine to compete with the big Chevs the car never had a chance. Also… As the P70 was being completed Shelby was awarded the GT40 project with the proviso that he only work on the GT40s so the DeTomaso P70 CanAm was never developed. The Sport 5000 was the smaller engined car based on the 289 engine for racing under the European Group 7 rules. With no sponsorship DeTomaso shelved the project.

  4. DENIS CARON says

    There is not a single proof that this car has ever raced or even presented at any race. There are no documents, pictures or film to support that fact. The refrences are from a “fan” based site feeded to uplift and support the ‘”heritage” of this car.

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