Former Fiat exec will revive iconic De Tomaso sports-car brandThu, 19 Nov 2009
Italian businessman Gian Mario Rossignolo plans to revive the De Tomaso sports car brand.
The former Fiat S.p.A marketing executive aims to build 8,000 De Tomaso cars a year in a former Pininfarina S.p.A. factory near Turin.
Rossignolo, 79, who bought the De Tomaso brand from a Modena, Italy, bankruptcy court earlier this month, plans a three-model range of aluminum premium vehicles.
The De Tomaso sports car company was founded in 1959 in Modena by former Argentinean racing driver Alejandro De Tomaso. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2004, a year after De Tomaso's death.
De Tomaso became an iconic brand for sports car fans in the 1960s and 1970s with three coupes--the 1963 Vallelunga, the 1966 Mangusta and the 1970 Pantera.
During his 22-year career with Fiat group, Rossignolo was a top marketing executive and CEO of the Italian automaker's Lancia brand from 1977 to 1979.
Two years ago, the flamboyant businessman failed in a bid to buy Bertone's contract manufacturing business for his De Tomaso car project. Bertone's coachbuilding operations have since been bought by Fiat.
In October, Rossignolo signed a preliminary deal to rent Pininfarina's factory in Grugliasco, in the western outskirts of Turin, one of three Pininfarina plants.
Rossignolo plans to build 3,000 units a year of a De Tomaso crossover as well as 3,000 luxury sedans and 2,000 coupes.
The first model is scheduled to debut at the Geneva auto show in March 2011.
Rossignolo said his new De Tomaso company will invest 116 million euros ($172 million) in the project in the next four years.
The Grugliasco plant employs 900 people and includes a body shop, paint shop and final assembly facility.
Innovative aluminum construction
Rossignolo has been promoting for the past four years his business plan for a three-model range of aluminum vehicles based on an innovative construction technology called Univis.
According to Rossignolo, Univis is a space-frame technology that requires just about 30 dies to build a vehicle.
The De Tomaso project is Rossignolo's second attempt at reviving a defunct Italian brand.
About 15 years ago, he attempted to restart Isotta Fraschini and an Audi-based Isotta Fraschini T8 was unveiled at the 1996 Geneva show, but it never entered production.
By Luca Ciferri- Automotive News Europe