De Tomaso returns with ’60s-inspired P72

New €750,000 supercar draws on the brand’s history and its short-lived P70 prototype racer

The De Tomaso P72, one of the debutants at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, sees the return of an Italian automotive brand that was last active in the noughties. This new car in fact marks the 60th birthday of the firm, and is inspired by a little-known 1964 tie-up between its founder, Alejandro de Tomaso, and Carroll Shelby: the P70.

2020 De Tomaso P72

2020 De Tomaso P72

The core team behind today’s De Tomaso is a Iso behind Apollo and its IE, though whereas the Apollo is an out-and-out hardcore homage to GTi racers, the P72 is a more relaxed affair for drivers of all abilities to enjoy. Intended as a ‘halo’ model, De Tomaso will build only 72 examples, with a base price currently pegged at a round € 750k (£670k) and final spec to be confirmed. Two powertrains – a V12 and a V8 – will be offered, and the P72’s carbonfibre chassis is shared with the IE, which means it’s FIA safety compliant.

The styling of the new car leans heavily on the brand’s history, and the P70 in particular. Speaking at the Festival of Speed, Ryan Berris, De Tomaso’s general manager and CMO, said, ‘We’ve been able to tell an untold part of De Tomaso’s history, which was the main initiative from when we acquired the brand. How do we do this brand justice, because it was so misunderstood? No one ever knew the majority of what he [Alejandro] had accomplished outside of the Pantera.’

The P70 project that served as inspiration for the new car was set to take on the big boys of ’60s prototype r acing, with Shelby putting up the cash for Peter Brock to design and De Tomaso to engineer a world-beater. However, Shelby and De Tomaso fell out part-way through, with Shelby departing to head up Ford’s GT programme, leaving De Tomaso to complete the project with the help of Ghia. The finished car, the Ghia De Tomaso Sport 5000, was unveiled at the 1965 Turin motor show.

Jowyn Wong, the 29-year-old designer behind the P72, and the IE, brought the car to life in record time. He said, ‘It was less than a year with the full exterior and interior. And this is all fulfilling any homologation requirements. Everything you see here, viewing points, the sharpness of all the edges, they’re all homologation considered.’

Wyn knew he had to create something striking not only to do De Tomaso justice, but also to help the car stand out: ‘ This was really right to the roots in the be ginning, so that set the groundwork for a design language looking ahead, because we wanted to do something that was a bit more unique, a bit more different, compared to what the competitors are doing today.’ Upcoming De Tomasos are set to look pretty special then.

That future line-up remains a secret for now. However, the company is keen to follow the firm’s original brief of creating cars capable of taking on the establishment for less money. Sure, €750k is a fair chunk of change, but it’s less than some out the recharge.

Endurance racing may well be on the cards for the P72, too, what with its FIA-compliant chassis, lessons learned from its hard – edged Apollo sib ling, and a new hype rear class at Le Mans. Norman Choi, De Tomaso chairman, is a huge fan of classic racers, with the ’60s era a favourite. He said, ‘Seeing them racing d own the Le Ma ns straights really is some thing special. This is some thing that inspired m e to, perhaps in the future, have the opportunity to b ring this car onto that s am e straight.’

Above and below: P72 shares its all-carbonfibre chassis with the Apollo IE; exterior has a strong hint of Glickenhaus about it.

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