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Concept Car of the Week: DeTomaso Zonda (1971)

Fri, 26 Jul 2013 00:00:00 -0700

Not satisfied in producing one of the most astonishing sports cars of the ‘60s with the Mangusta, Italian carmaker DeTomaso asserted its ambitions in 1970 by presenting an even more striking sports car, the Pantera, alongside the luxurious Deauville four-door sedan, both powered by the same Ford V8 engine.

Those new gorgeous models were the work of Dutch-born Tom Tjaarda, then head of design at Ghia. Despite those amazing cars, the styling house was struggling to make a profit and that same year, Alejandro DeTomaso sold Ghia along with a large chunk of his company to Ford, which was looking for that exotic Italian touch.

The fruit of these incestuous relationships appeared at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show when DeTomaso presented the Zonda concept – designed to complement the current range with a luxurious GT – which would be sold in US showrooms.

Tjaarda clearly reused some styling elements from the Pantera, such as the low waistline and the C-pillars, but slightly shortened the Deauville's front-engined platform. The overall silhouette echoes that of the original Maserati Ghibli – another Ghia creation – with a long, powerful hood and a sharp, elegant kammtail.

The T-shaped IP was very similar to the Deauville's, with a large center console as well as thick, comfy seats.

A Ford 351ci V8 engine from the Pantera that produced an underrated 330bhp – to lower the cost of insurance – powered the Zonda, but further dyno tests revealed numbers closer to 380bhp with colossal torque.

Ford's management believed the Zonda would not generate enough of a profit, leading to the project's cancellation. Instead, a coupé version of the Deauville was launched two years later called the Longchamp, which traded dramatic lines for improved practicality.

First seen Geneva Motor Show 1971
Designer Tom Tjaarda for Ghia
Engine Ford V8 351 Cleveland, 5,751cc
Power 330bhp

Your author, Flavien Dachet, is a UK-based, French-born car designer. You may know him as the purveyor of KarzNshit, a photo blog that if isn't already in your bookmarks, certainly should be.

By Flavien Dachet