Where it is compromised is in the packaging concept. This car makes few concessions to creature comforts. The windscreen meets the top of your head (unless you are a short Italian playboy) and your legs are offset toward the centreline to clear the front wheel-arch, but it’s all part of the plan in a car intended to push design limits to the very edge before the days of safety legislation.
Overall, one has to question the myths that surround the Mangusta. Perhaps cars were fitted with the incorrect tyres, or performance-tested with the US-spec engines. Certainly this one feels like it has every bit the measure of its rivals from that era. As a classic car today, it has even more appeal, relatively speaking. An easy-to-maintain Ford V8, wrapped in one of the most alluring shapes from the pen of the world’s most famed car designer, at a fraction of the cost of a DB5, Miura or Daytona. Not surprising then that values continue to rise rapidly.
Total Mangusta production rounded up at just 401 units and of those the general consensus is that just 250 survive today. As mentioned, the pictured car is the only one to have ever made it to the African continent and it remains here today. Wearing chassis number 8MA520, it is the 10th car manufactured (they only used even chassis numbers) and was imported to South Africa around 1970 by 6-times World Motorcycle Champion Jim Redman.
Redman imported the car from Switzerland, basically because his brother Peter had an import permit and they saw the opportunity to make some money out of the arrangement. They bought this particular make and model simply because it was available at the time. Needless to say Redman Machine Tools were the second owners and both Jim and Peter drove the car on and off for about two years before selling it to Gordon Henderson – a well-known race driver. In 1980 the car was sold on to the current family, who, following 15 years of storage, started the restoration process in 2004.
In order to return the Mangusta to its former glory a ground-up nut-and-bolt rebuild was the only way. Most of the work was done by Steve Desilla, although several specialists were called upon to ensure every effort was made to preserve the car in its original form, right down to the last detail. One deviation was the choice of colour though – with the owner opting to move from the original red to a period correct and Mangusta-supplied metallic dark blue.
Engine work was entrusted to Peter Frost and during the strip-down it was revealed to be a 289ci with the so-called HiPo features as well as the period Shelby ST350-spec upgrades, giving credibility to the claimed official original output and 250km/h top speed.
For good measure, the cylinder heads were gas-flowed by Van der Linde Developments, the sump was baffled and the volume increased, and a new Holley 650CFM double-pump carburettor was fitted in place of Autolite original. It was then dyno-tested at a healthy 321bhp@6000rpm and 435Nm of torque at 4500rpm – around 15bhp more than the claimed figure back in the day.
Dunlop M-section racing tyres were imported as per the original Turin Motor Show car to provide the correct wheel-arch fill, ride height, and front-to-rear grip ratio. The restoration was completed in 2009.