For $88,500, Me Gusta MangustaS

On Monday, when you heard Mangusta, and then saw the Qvale, I guess it was a little like expecting the finest pasta primavera, and then getting served Sbarro. To make up for that, today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mangusta is the real deal. The question is, does its price mean you'd be getting served?

Kit cars get a bad rap. Maybe it's all those bailing wire and bubble gum backyard jobs, or perhaps it's just metalflake overdose. At any rate, there was no way in Fiberfab fantasy yesterday's Classic Roadsters Jag SS100 replica was going to win, and it in fact came away with a decisive 78% Crack Pipe loss.

Alejandro de Tomaso had a penchant for tomfoolery. When given opportunity to get an early peek at the gestating Fiat X1/9, he quickly commissioned the nearly identical 1600 for the Turin Auto Show, causing Fiat execs to shit their shiny Italian suits. He also decided he wanted to tweak the nose of fellow racer-tuned auto maker, Carrol Shelby, and did so by naming his new race-bred sports car the Mangusta, or mongoose, an animal that was famous for taking on, and taking down Cobras.

The Mangusta is based on the precedent, and achingly beautiful Vallelunga, using a similar boxed center spine for a chassis member. The earlier car however had a massively Weber'd Kent 4 pn display under its huge plexiglass rear window, while the Mangusta sported Ford's small block V8 beneath its bat wing rear covers.

For $88,500, Me Gusta MangustaS

Those center-hinged covers were emblematic features of the Giorgetto Giugiaro-design, which is also immediately identifiable by the fact that it looks lower than a dachshund's dinkus. Ultimately, that famously low roofline proved to be the Mangusta's major source of complaint, as it made the 2-bucket cabin uninhabitable for anyone with, oh say, a head. Also, the three or so inches of ground clearance rang more bellhousings than Quasimodo. They were so low, in fact that the headlights had to be modified to meet the nascent U.S. safety laws, switching them from shoe gazers to Scorpion-like half-pops.

This 1970 Mangusta sports those U.S.-only single 7-inch lights and because of that it looks a little more like a Pantera that's lost its mittens bumpers. Other US safety acknowledgements are the small round side marker lights and sideways-flipping toggles in the center of the wide, flat dash panel. This one hides some of Giugiaro's beautiful detailing behind coal black paint, but you can't ask for a better color on the car if your goal is frightening nuns.

For $88,500, Me Gusta MangustaS

The ad describes this as being one of a pair of Mangustas (Mangusti?) owned by an individual, who traded them both for a single Ferrari 365 GTB. The other is the red ‘69, also offered by this seller, and whose price is more than thirty thousand more than its younger sister. This one, at less than ninety grand is the more interesting in my book, as it appears to be the more original. Perhaps the fixed headlamps are worth the extra dough, but I've always liked pop-ups, myself.

I also like the 302 engine that's behind the black leather seats, and have nothing bad to say about the ZF Z1 5-speed gearbox behind that. Both are used as stressed members bolted to a yoke at the end of the box section and serving as mounts for the rear double a-arm suspension. Girling disc brakes are fitted at each corner, as are fat Campagnolo magnesium wheels.

For $88,500, Me Gusta MangustaS

Not so good (and you may not want to hear this) is the 32/68 weight distribution and poor high speed stability (155-mph top end), engendered by that beautiful body. Those beautiful Campagnolos? 4-lugs! Finally, the 302 in the U.S. Mangusta made but 230-bhp, despite being fed by a throaty Autolite 4BBL. Still, that was enough to move the 2,600-lb car to sixty in less than 6 seconds.

Very good original condition is frequently more desirable than restored, and this original Mangusta looks to be very, very good, aside from the poorly placed for looks bullet mirrors. The most interesting aspect of the car is its price, which the seller notes is low due to the car's need of "some refurbishment" but it's hard to gauge just what needs refurbishing. As one of only 401 total built, and an estimated 176 left on the planet, whatever it needs, it should probably get.

For $88,500, Me Gusta MangustaS

As the pictures are probably making you scoot on the carpet in excitement (bad dog!) it's obvious that this Mangusta has it all over its fugly namesake from Monday. This original one however is priced - even at what seems bargain basement - at more than what that Qvale cost new. Now, they say that beauty may only be skin deep, but in the case of these two Mangustas, it certainly cuts all the way to the wallet. And that's pretty damn deep.

What do you think about the cut of this 1970 Mangusta's jib? Is $88,500 a good investment in this work of art? Or, is this yet another Mangusta that provides no gusto?

You decide!

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