Last week’s unveiling of the De Tomaso P72 had us oohing and ahhing over its sleek looks and copper detailing. Most seemed pretty happy with the car. Except for Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus. The company was less than pleased with the looks of the P72. It seems kind of pissed, actually!
In a saucy tweet yesterday, SCG publicly accused De Tomaso’s designers of basically copying the design from its own Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina one-off from 2005 and how it “stole” the P72’s interior from Pagani.
These are very snappy accusations, so we reached out to Glickenhaus for further comment. Here is the email from a company spokesperson, in full:
“When Andrea Pininfarina asked Jim [Glickenhaus] ‘If you could build anything in the world, what would you build?’ he answered immediately that he would build a new version of a P4 on the best new chassis available (we researched both using a Maserati MC12 and the Ferrari Enzo, and we ultimately went with the Enzo to tie in the history of the P4, and also because it was a much more streetable configuration than the MC12.”
“We worked together for just over a year, my dad and myself, Sal Barone (who practically lived at Pininfarina during this project), and the team at Pininfarina. We built two, full-scale 1:1 models to make sure every angle was perfect. The car was eventually sanctioned by Luca di Montezemolo, making Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina the only official Ferrari one-off car made entirely without Ferrari’s influence or even knowledge on the design. We poured our passion and soul into P4/5.”
For reference, this is the Ferrari 330 P4 that inspired Glickenhaus’s car.
“And the design and the car is, perhaps, one of the best known modern cars in the world, having been on the cover of nearly every major automotive magazine at one point or another,” the person went on. “We turned down a real offer for $40 million dollars from someone, who I will not name, who wanted to buy P4/5. We were later told by a mutual acquaintance that it is the only time in that person’s life he had ever been turned down for an offer.”
“I know that when I showed her a photo of the P72 and asked her what it was, she said it was P4/5, and that for many average car people, they would make the same mistake. The nose and front view, the side view, the top view, the bubble top.”
“Norman [Choi, CEO of De Tomaso] is saying that they made an honest effort to make an homage to the P70, which was designed by Shelby and Pete Brock. Yet that car was a spyder Can AM-type car. There is a little resemblance perhaps to part of the nose, but there is more resemblance of the P72 to P4/5. You are welcome to ask Pete Brock which the P72 looks more like, the P70 or Ferrari P4/5. There is very little resemblance between the P72's top view, glass shape, rear wing to the P70, and much more resemblance to P4/5. Even the wheels on the P72 are closer to P4/5's custom five-spoke, DOT approved, one-off wheels than to the original P70 wheels; the teardrop back glass, the single rear taillights, the exhaust out of the top instead of the the bottom, etc. etc.”
“I think it is fair to say your average car person thinks the P72 looks extremely similar to P4/5.”
“I have never read a comment that says the P72 looks like an homage to or modern interpretation of the P70 (it would be interesting to create a poll for your readers with pictures to compare). It is impossible that a car designer working today is not familiar with P4/5. It is impossible for me to speak to Norman’s intent, or the intent of their designer.”
“But, res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself. It doesn’t feel right to me.”
“As for the interior, again, I won’t speak to intent, but compare images or actual Pagani Huayra next to the interior of the P72, and you tell me.”
“We debated for several days, and didn’t want to get involved at first because we didn’t want to sound petty. But we poured our soul into P4/5, and it just doesn’t feel right.”
For your consideration, here is a photo of the interior of the Huayra and the P72. It’s... sorta... close? Maybe in the shifter. Maybe.
A De Tomaso spokesperson, when asked for comment, responded,
“We normally would not comment on such a matter, but we feel it is important to again clearly state that our inspiration for the P72 was the De Tomaso Sport Prototypes of the 1960s. These included the Sport 1000, Sport 2000, Sport 5000 and P70. Attached to this note I have provided a design sketch which highlights the lineage.”
“In addition, here is a personal conversation from our team and the original P70 designer, Peter Brock.”
Scuderia De Tomaso: How you feel about the us creating an homage to a car that you personally designed?
Peter Brock: When I was told this new De Tomaso is an “homage” to my P70 Sports racer I was honored. I had no idea my concept from the mid ‘60s would in any way be influential to a car being presented today. My first impressions of the new De Tomaso are all so positive I hardly know where to begin. The exterior form is so well done it invites you to keep walking around, admiring every subtle detail. In this day of modern super GTs it’s difficult to stand out for more than a short time. With its design, engineering and technical specifications I think this De Tomaso P72 will set a new standard.
“The Glickenhauses are certainly entitled to their opinion,” the person concluded their note, “and we truly wish them nothing but great success for the future.”
The thing is, this whole argument is academic because while the P72 and Glick’s P4/5 admittedly seem similar, both companies also fully confirm that their cars were inspired by 1960s racers. And here’s the thing about 1960s racers: They pretty much all look almost identical. Long tails, petite greenhouses (if any), and bulbous, almost insect-like headlights and pinched-flat front ends. This was cutting-edge aero at the time, and everyone followed it.
For example, here’s a Lola T70.
A Ford GT40 Mk IV.
A Porsche 908.
A Chevron B16.
And, finally, even sort of a Porsche 917.
At the very least, De Tomaso is only building 72 P72s. So the chances of you running into it are slim. Not as slim as running into Glick’s car, but still slim. So the odds of you seeing the two of them together to mix them up are probably very low. Personally, I can tell them apart just fine.
That is, unless the P4/5 and the P72 run into each other at some concours event. Then... insert Spiderman-pointing-at-Spiderman meme here.
Update July 11, 8:22 a.m. EST: Automotive designer legend Peter Brock sent over a photo of the De Tomaso P70, the car the P72 draws its inspiration from. The P70 was a collaboration between Alejandro de Tomaso and Carroll Shelby. The aluminum body was styled by Brock.
“What is interesting is that we’re seeing a design trend back toward the era when cars were more sensual,” he wrote. “All racing car design is governed by sanctioning-body rules. Too often the rules intent is to slow the cars (for safety to spectators… banning of movable aero, for example) but when the ‘rules box’ gets so tight, there’s not much room left to create with innovation, especially with GTs. That’s why the ‘60s era cars are ‘prettier’… designers could still innovate and the examples produced were far more aesthetically interesting.”