The De Tomaso Mangusta Shelby MkV prototype is a very unique and largely unknown piece of history.
The fact is, that the De Tomaso Mangusta Shelby MkV came very close to being a Ford-badged successor to the Ford GT40 with the intention of being sold through Ford dealerships across the USA and presumably the world.
Alejandro De Tomaso and Carroll Shelby came together to work on a project that may have also been inspired by taking on Ferrari in Italy, and bringing a taste of Le Mans to the world.
De Tomaso and Shelby were both former racing drivers turned automakers, who also shared a similar philosophy of taking lightweight European cars with excellent handling and adding a big American V8 up front!
Initially coming together to work on what is known as the “P70 project”, a project that was doomed to failure however did create two fully-functional prototypes that would form the underpinnings of the DeTomaso Mangusta. These were the similarly-styled De Tomaso Sport 5000 and De Tomaso P70.
The Mangusta model made it’s debut at the Turin Motor Show in November 1966, shortly after an example was sent to Ford’s HQ in the USA for evaluation, with Carroll Shelby in support. The car was painted and badged with all the appropriate Shelby elements and was named the Mark V as it was meant to follow from the Ford GT40 Mark IV.
Ford executives examined the car and ultimately decided not to proceed with the program, however shortly afterwards, they did take a controlling interest in De Tomaso. Ford then paid for the development of the De Tomaso Pantera, which did go to market through a small group of selected Ford dealerships, and was a mid-engine supercar with a Ford V8.
Given that journey, it’s believed that only one De Tomaso Shelby MkV was ever built, the car seen here, and given the interest in cars carrying either De Tomaso or Shelby badges this car that carries both is likely to be a big dollar car on an auction block.
Generally speaking, the De Tomaso Mangusta was made from 1967 to 1971 with only 401 built. The car had a steel backbone chassis with a load-bearing, rear-mid mounted Ford V8. With front and rear independent suspension, the car also used disc brakes on all four corners, rack and pinion steering, and a 5-speed ZF transaxle to transfer power to the rear wheels.
Two primary V8 engine types were used in the Mangusta, the Ford 289 ci and the Ford 302 ci. Initially European cars used the Ford 289 V8 with the American cars getting the Ford 302 V8, but all cars later in the production cycle were fitted with the 302.
Although cramped for anyone over 6″ tall, the interior was quite well equipped with air conditioning and power windows, leather bucket seats, and ample instrumentation.
In regards to the Shelby Mark V version shown here, looking very much the part dressed in red with white racing stripes and carrying Shelby Mk V badges front and rear, it stands as a unique piece of automotive history that very few know about.
Considering the record breaking prices of original Ford GT40’s and Shelby Cobras, it’ll be interesting to see what price the hammer drops for this one when it crosses the MECUM auction block in a week’s time.
MECUM has currently placed an estimate at $300,000 to $350,000 USD. Although the Mangusta Shelby MkV doesn’t have race heritage and hasn’t been proven on the track as have the GT40 and the Cobra model, this still may prove to be a conservative figure.
You can track the progress of this very rare vehicle at the MECUM Site HERE