The Mangusta and Pantera are fine examples of gorgeous-looking, good-to-drive exotica from decades past.
Their creator, De Tomaso, is no longer. But, despite launching in 1971 and lasting all the way to 1991, the Pantera was not the last model to come from the Italo-Argentine car maker.
That would be the small sports car Guarà, of which around 50 were produced between 1993 and 2004, a year after the death of company founder Alejandro De Tomaso.
On 24 April 1996, Autocar’s Peter Robinson took one for a test drive. It was the coupé, which was priced at £82,838; the barchetta version cost £91,726.
“It’s the contradictions of the Guarà that make it so fascinating,” we began.
"The car’s high-tech spec, so strongly orientated towards the track, leads you to expect to find a peaky, racing engine nestling at the end of the usual De Tomaso aluminium backbone chassis. Instead, you discover a stock BMW V8."
“The Guarà’s rubberless suspension, meticulous hand-built assembly and supercar looks contrast with the saloon-tuned 4.0-litre that puts out a mere 283bhp,” Robinson wrote.
The car, we continued, was “the crutch charged with supporting the company until the arrival of the recently announced Bigua in spring 1997”. This model didn’t reach production until 1999, due to De Tomaso's struggle to keep afloat financially; when it eventually did, it was named the Mangusta. Before long, it was sold under the name of the company that built it, Qvale, and eventually went on to become the MG X-Power SV.
But we’re digressing.
The Guarà, we said, “disguises its size, at least from some angles. From front or rear profile, it looks tiny, with virtually no rear overhang and a diminutive glasshouse that sits way inboard of the body sides. However, it isn’t able to disguise its daunting width. That’s a shame, because the other proportions are intelligently used to take advantage of the long wheelbase and mid-engine location and produce a taut, purposeful shape.”