Stile Bertone's Mantide now has a price and production run size: $2,000,000 and ten. Let's see if it's worth the 20× premium over its donor car: the Corvette ZR1.
A few hours after we published our in-depth interview with Stile Bertone’s new design director Jason Castriota, I was standing by Lake Como with him showing me the secrets of his first Bertone design, the Mantide.
The front fenders melt into wings behind the front wheels then draw up into a single taut bunch—reminiscent of a calf muscle—which in turn passes under an archway similar to Castriota’s famous C-pillar for the Ferrari 599 GTB. The confluence of curves and LED’s in the back is, when viewed from a step back, a classic Kamm tail. While retaining the tried-and-true shape of the fastback, the Mantide is boldly futuristic.
But will anyone be able to drive it? There are plans to make two more examples, Castriota says, in white and green, to create an Italian flag with the addition of the first car. Then, in an email to the New York Times, he said: “We would not rule out producing as many as 10.” A price has also been quoted: €1,500,000
That's close to two million US dollars at the current exchange rate—almost two Veyrons worth of cold, hard cash. Not insignificant for a car built on a Corvette ZR1, which retails for 5% of the Mantide’s asking price. Let’s examine what you get for that kind of money, apart from the warm feeling of contributing to a company’s survival which has given us the Miura, the Countach and the Lancia Stratos.
While Jeremy Clarkson has named the Corvette ZR1 his car of the year for 2008 and our own road test editor Wes Siler called it “the best car ever made,” the fact remains: on the inside, it's all Corvette.
To whit, from our first drive:
In fact, the only thing detracting from the ZR1’s grand touring credentials is the interior. The only options on the $103,300 car are an awful set of chrome wheels and the 3ZR upgraded interior package, which succeeds in moving the interior from cheap and nasty into luxurious bass boat territory with more embroidered ZR1 and Corvette logos than my fragile mind could comprehend. We have a hard time accepting the “value” excuse; for this kind of money we’d no longer like to feel like a Jeff Foxworthy punchline. An automatic transmission is, thankfully, not an option.
Let’s see what the Mantide has to offer:
As you can see, it’s a modern European alcantara-carbon-fiber-leather affair, with the car’s hexagonal theme continuing as cutouts on the racing seats, themselves thin carbon shells. The instrument screen is the one used in the Ferrari FXX, the gearshift is a nice aluminum knob and it’s certainly got a snug racer feel to it. But it’s perhaps not as remarkable as the car’s exterior.
Certainly a major upgrade on the Corvette, though, but then that’s not saying much when you’re considering this is a two million dollar Italian super car.
Here in Europe, the current Corvette is not liked much. It’s a big, brash American design, a brute amongst small European cars, but while it’s unarguably alien to these shores, I rather fancy its low, wide, flowing looks. In ZR1 trim, it’s a proper menace, with all the right vents, wings and scoops.
The Mantide gets rid of that all. Aside from the front-engined layout and the fastback silhouette, you would be hard pressed to tell there’s a Corvette underneath. And there is: the Mantide is not like the Italian-American cars from the 60s like the Iso Grifo or the De Tomaso Mangusta which paired an Italian chassis with an American V8. Beneath the red carbon fiber is a Corvette ZR1: LS9 engine, aluminum chassis, the works.
But what carbon fiber! It’s all sharp Bertone creases which turn into subtle arcs as you examine them up close, dihedral Enzo doors, smatterings of hexagons everywhere. The angular rear wheelarches—straight off the M577A armoured personnel carrier which transported the space marines into the doomed reactor core in Aliens—frame black Transformer wheels.
It’s dramatically new, so shockingly new that it’s actively disconcerting to take a few steps back and see its classic berlinetta profile. In person, it creates the sort of time warp the iPhone did when it first went on sale in the summer of 2007. You felt as though you were holding a sliver of 2011 in your hands.
The Mantide? I’d say it’s from 2017. Similar vehicles are on their way to leave the inner Solar System.
But then is it worth the price of 20 ZR1’s? There is, of course, no rational answer to such a question, as even the ZR1 is not an entirely rational purchase, being, as Dan Neil put it in his article The rapture of the hypercar, a big needle to deliver the combustible heroin of petroleum.
If you have space-faring ambitions on the public road, set to the soundtrack of a pushrod V8 with titanium bits, then by all means get in touch with Stile Bertone and put down whatever deposit they ask. The car geeks of the world need you to enable them to carry on the traditions of coachbuilding.
And then I saved the best part for the end. If you open the gigantic hood and peer inside, what you’ll see is exactly what you'll see when you open the hood of the ZR1 — a grinning, black Corvette Racing skull named Jake.
So even though this is not a race car, your Le Mans ass-kicking heritage is right there. And who could ask for more.
Photo Credit: Alex Conley (Corvette ZR1), Natalie Polgar and the author (Stile Bertone Mantide)