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The Vallelunga was an extremely rare mid-engined, rear wheel drive sports car produced by De Tomaso from 1964 until 1968.

History

The Vallelunga was based on a roadster designed by Carozzeria Fissore and named after the Autodromo di Vallelunga first shown as a concept car at the Turin Motor Show in 1964. De Tomaso had hoped to sell the design of the concept to another company, perhaps Ford, but when there were no takers had the car produced by Ghia.

Specifications

The engine was a 1.5L straight-4 Kent engine from the Ford Cortina with 104 hp (78 kW) at 6200 rpm. A Volkswagen Beetle transaxle, fitted with Hewland gearsets, was used. The chassis was a pressed steel backbone with tubular subframes. Suspension was double wishbone and coil springs at all four corners with uprights sourced from Triumph. The small car weighed 726 kg (1600 lb) with a fiberglass body and many drilled aluminium parts. Brakes were disc all around.

Demise

Unfortunately the chassis wasn't torsionally sound for engines with higher torque, a problem made worse since some welding in the backbone, fabricated in Italy, was faulty, and drive train vibrations were a constant problem for those cars. Only 53 production cars were built (58 including aluminum body prototypes and race cars) before it was replaced by the De Tomaso Mangusta. The Mangusta used the concept of the Vallelunga chassis, significantly re-engineered to take a Ford 302 engine, all packaged with a body by Giorgetto Giugiaro.

One enthusiastic young owner of the Vallelunga was Ricci Martin, son of the late entertainer Dean Martin. Ricci obtained the red car around the time of his sixteenth birthday in 1969, but his brother wrote it off a few months later in a road accident. Ricci's mother went to some effort to locate a replacement car in an auto showroom in Milan, Italy, and she also arranged for the new car to be air-freighted to California. Of further interest, a few years later Ricci Martin sold the replacement Vallelunga after purchasing a version of its successor, the Mangusta. The Ricci Martin car (VIN 807DT0116) did not die, however. It was generally restored by machinist K. Krohncke in San Jose, California, sold to a collector in Southern California in 1980, and now lives in Florida.

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