ATS withdraws bid for De Tomaso


If you were, like us, holding out hope for a De Tomaso revival prepare to be disappointed as Italian car maker ATS (Automobili Turismo Sport) has reportedly given up their bid for the defunct brand.

Founded by Alejandro de Tomaso in 1959, the company behind the Pantera and Mangusta eventually petered out a decade ago, only to be revived by former Fiat executive Gian Mario Rossignolo in 2009. The resurgent De Tomaso showcased the Deauville concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and began development on a new Pantera, both designed by Pininfarina, but ended up back in bankruptcy last year amidst allegations of misappropriations of government subsidies.

Those truly schooled in the history of Italian sports cars will recognize the letters ATS. They belong to Automobili Turismo Sport, an outfit formed after the great ‘Palace Revolution’ at Ferrari in the early 1960s. The brand was originally launched in 1963 by a legion of disgruntled former Ferrari employees, like Carlo Chiti and Giotto Bizzarrini, but shut down a few short years later. ATS folded a few years after that, but recently resurfaced some 50 years later under new caretakers. And now it’s probably changing hands again.

Speaking to Autoblog, ATS chief Gianluca Gregis said the company will be leaving Italy to setup shop in the Canary Islands. The move to the Spanish archipel off the coast of Morocco will reportedly bring a number of benefits including tax incentives and easier shipping to global locations. Unfortunately, the change has caused the company to refocus their efforts and drop necessary projects. As a result, ATS have withdrawn their bid for De Tomaso and sold their Leggera Roadster program and sold their to an unnamed – British? – automaker.

ATS appears to be going through a management dispute between its two owners – one party supporting the course of action described below and the other working to stop it and keep ATS in Italy. We’ll be watching to see how it develops.





ATS buys De Tomaso, new Pantera planned


Italy has had more than its fair share of ‘old’ auto marques revived in recent years. Bugatti restarted in Modena before returning across the border to Molsheim, Fiat brought back the Abarth marque not long ago, Carrozzeria Touring got back into the business after decades lying dormant, Zagato revived the Diatto name for a small run of sportscars, and the students at the IED in Turin plucked the Cisitalia name out of the dustbin of history for a concept car last year. But two of the most recent Italian auto marques to resurface are ATS and De Tomaso.

ATS (Automobili Turismo e Sport) went back into business last year on the occasion of the original marque’s 50th anniversary with new models including the Sport 1000, 2500 GT and 300 Leggera. The brand was originally launched in 1963 by a legion of disgruntled former Ferrari employees like Giotto Bizzarrini and Carlo Chiti, but shut down a few short years later. Now revived after nearly half a century in remission, ATS seems to be moving forward nicely… which is more than we could say for De Tomaso.

Founded by Alejandro de Tomaso in 1959, the company behind the Mangusta, Pantera, Longchamp, Deauville, Guara and other beautiful creations, eventually petered out a decade ago, only to be revived by former Fiat executive Gian Mario Rossignolo in 2009. The resurgent De Tomaso showcased the Deauville concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show and began development on a new Pantera, but ended up back in bankruptcy last year amidst allegations of misappropriations of government subsidies. Rossignolo was taken into custody over allegations that he – along with two others – misused €7.5 ($9.1 / £5.9) million worth of government funds, and the company was put up for sale in 2012.

Speculation ensued over who might buy De Tomaso, but now we have our answer. ATS has purchased the rights to the De Tomaso brand and is preparing to relaunch it with a new lineup. Although specific details of their cooperation will only be revealed later this month, ATS tells us that some future De Tomaso products could share platforms and other technologies with ATS models. First on the list is obviously a new Pantera, which could ride on a ATS 2500 GT platform, but specific details will be revealed later this month.

The two marques were among the very first carmakers to put a mid-engined sportscar into production, with the original ATS 2500 GT and the De Tomaso Vallelunga reaching the market in quick succession in 1963, after (what would become) the Matra Djet and years before the Lamborghini Miura would hit the streets. Now back in the game and bound together, we’re looking forward to seeing what ATS and De Tomaso have up their sleeves.





The Return of the De Tomaso Pantera?

De Tomaso Pantera Concept

Legendary Italian carmaker De Tomaso, which has struggled for quite sometime now, continues to catch our attention, this time with a newly surfaced video that appears to be a possible Pantera concept car.

At March’s 2011 Geneva Motor Show, a rejuvenated De Tomaso, now run by former Fiat exec Gian Mario Rossignolo and his family, presented the controversial SLS luxury crossover concept and announced production of not just one but three distinct new models.

Now, spotted outside De Tomaso’s plant in Grugliasco, just outside of Turin, Italy, is this mysterious prototype of a sports car with mid-engine proportions and a screaming V-8 engine. The original De Tomaso Pantera, designed by Tom Tjaarda for Ghia, was produced from 1971 to 1974. It was fitted with a Ford-sourced V8 engine and by most accounts the sports car was a success for De Tomaso. There’s no word on what engine the newest Pantera will get, but judging by the deep exhaust note from the video.

If the car in the video is indeed the new Pantera, it looks to be more promising (and exciting) than the concept De Tomaso SLC/Deauville luxury crossover concept that was featured at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. If you look closely at the video clip of the Deauville, you can clearly see ‘De Tomaso’ on the side of the building courtyard the vehicle is exiting, and comparing it to the alleged Pantera video, it’s also obvious it’s the same location.

So it’s safe to assume the sports car prototype is definitely a De Tomaso of some sort, if not a revival of the storied Pantera moniker. This modern-day De Tomaso Pantera could be revealed as early as this November’s 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.





Isotta Fraschini remains in Italy


Founded in Milan, Italy, in 1900 by Cesare Isotta and the brothers Vincenzo, Antonio, and Oreste Fraschini, Isotta Fraschini was an Italian luxury car manufacturer. Early film stars Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino drove Isotta Fraschinis. Later the company also produced also trucks, and engines for marine and aviation use.

Seriously affected by the economic crisis of the 1930s and by the disruptions of World War II, Isotta Fraschini stopped making cars after the war (1949). The last model that was produced was the Monterosa. The official presentation of the Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8C Monterosa (1947–1948) took place on October 1947 at the Paris Motor Show in the Grand Palais.


The Monterosa represented the swan song of the prestigious Milanese brand and did not reach the production stage. The chassis pre-built series were set up for a 4-door sedan by Zagato, a two-door sedan by Touring and convertibles by Boneschi. Only five of the Monterosa were produced.

Producing some of the most extravagant autos on Earth until 1934. With the exception of an attempt to get back into cars with the Monterosa, they stayed out of the luxury auto game, and focused on trucks (until the 1960s) and marine engines. But after a pause that lasted nearly half a century, Isotta Fraschini returned to the pavement in 1996 with the beautiful T8 concept, and followed up in 1998 with the T12 concept. (See pictures).


In the 1990s, attempts to revive the automotive industry of Isotta Fraschini were made. The marque, long since defunct, was revived in 1996 by former Fiat executive Gian Mario Rossignolo and Piedmontese businessman Giuliano Malvino.

The Isotta Fraschini T8 and T12 are Italian concept cars revealed in 1996 and 1998 respectively as an attempt by Isotta Fraschini to resurrect their prestigious luxury automotive brand name of the early 20th century.

The Tom Tjaarda designed, Audi A8-based, Isotta Fraschini T8 was launched at the Geneva Motor Show of that year. The aluminium bodied T8 was offered as 2+2 Spider, and available with a hard-top. The Isotta Fraschini T8 used Audi A8 mechanicals, including four-wheel-drive and the same 4172cc 32-valve V8 engine. The Isotta Fraschini T12, like the T8, is also an aluminium bodied, 4-wheel drive 2+2 Spider, available with a hard-top. It was first unveiled in 1998. The T12 Coupé had a V12 engine with 400 hp. at 6000rpm, vented disc brakes.


But ambitious production plans floundered and just a few cars were build. From the T8, two with Audi engines (one red and one yellow) and two with Ford Mustang engines (one white and one blue). From the T12, a four-seater berlinetta, which was produced in a single model. A second one was never fitted with a real engine, but remained only a style model. 

Production of the T8 and T12 would have been undertaken at an-ex military weapons plant in Southern Italy. The company never went into production and closed for bankruptcy in 1999. Late in 2000 the remaining hardware was sold off. 


Now, in Italian judicial auction has been the Isotta Fraschini brand, founded almost 100 years ago, it will remain in Italian hands. Business man Gianfranco Castiglioni from Varese has aquired the rights to the name and has the ambitious plans to relaunch the marque.

Lets hope he can bring this iconic Italian car back to life. It would be so much more beautiful on our roads then. Come into the beautiful world of Isotta Fraschini.