The article continued: “With a weight of just 1200kg giving a 236bhp power-to-weight ratio, you could reasonably expect the Guarà to feel almost as quick as the Ferrari F355, which has 268bhp per tonne.
“Maybe it’s the refinement of the BMW engine, or maybe the prototype we drove was out of sorts, but it never felt especially fast or dynamic. Yet, it’s the engine that makes this car so easy to drive. It’s tractable enough to run down to 1000rpm even in the incredibly tall top gear and still accelerate.
“Turn the thick-rimmed steering wheel and you find that De Tomaso still reckons a mid-engined car doesn’t need power steering, and that the rack and pinion steering is extremely heavy at rolling speeds, although this never again intruded once away."
The BMW engine may have been refined, but other elements of the Guarà certainly weren’t.
“The shriek from the Getrag six-speed manual gearbox, mounted in front of the engine, never fades," Autocar wrote. "The engineers say production cars are quieter, but no car that makes a design feature of diagonal gear linkages running across a wide central tunnel can be expected to redefine automotive tranquility.”
Were we otherwise impressed, though?
“De Tomaso has set the red line at 7000rpm, but really there’s no point in exceeding 6500rpm because the rate of acceleration declines over that last bit. You could drive between 2000rpm and 4000rpm all day and still enjoy the performance. It has a claimed 0-60mph time of 5.0sec, but it never feels that quick. But keep the engine between 3000-3500rpm and there’s power enough to scatter the chickens on the shortest of straights.
“The car’s steering is precise and direct and there is real agility in its handling. The steering progressively loads up in hairpins but, because there is still true feel and precision, a long, hard drive on twisty roads never becomes a tiring task.
“You also learn to use the car’s power to balance the tendency for quite strong understeer. Go deep into a corner that you’re still on the brakes at the apex and the wheel needs a hefty lock to get through a bend.”