Wednesday, 28 April 2010

De Tomaso Longchamp

The Longchamp is a forgotten relic of an era in which the (somewhat niche) luxury muscle GT market was all but crushed by the oil crisis. Aston Martin's V8 Vantage was the poster boy of post-embargo excess, combining quality coachbuilding and plush accoutrements with rumbling eight-banger thunder... but De Tomaso had been cooking from that recipe since 1972. The Ghia-designed Longchamp was hand-built by Italian craftsmen, and continued De Tomaso's tradition of melding Latin flair with angry American thrust, being powered by Ford's 351ci (5.8-litre) Cleveland V8.

Producing 330bhp and giving a top speed of 149mph, it was the same engine as was used in the manic Pantera supercar, although in the Longchamp it was front-mounted and complemented by a luxurious and cosseting interior. The ultimate iteration, the GTS, was unveiled at the 1980 Turin Motor Show, featuring lowered and stiffened suspension and wider Campagnolo wheels, while the Ford-sourced headlights were swapped for Audi Quattro units. The wider wheels necessitated bigger arches, an issue solved by the almost slapdash addition of plastic arch extensions which, rather than looking tacky, actually finish off the muscular look of the car rather nicely.

Never seen one on the roads? That's not surprising. Between 1972-89, just 409 Longchamps were built.

n.b. The wheels pictured are aftermarket items, rather than the standard GTS Campagnolos.

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