Exclusive: The Rebirth of De Tomaso Automobili

Brought back by the enthusiastic lunatics behind the Apollo Intensa Emozione, De Tomaso promises to return the brand to its rightful status.

byJonathon Klein|
Exclusive: The Rebirth of De Tomaso Automobili

De Tomaso’s origins were a worldly affair. Alejandro De Tomaso, the company's founder, was born in Argentina. Italian-based Ghia design-house was tasked with design. The lead designer was American-born as well as the all-American Ford engine supplied to birth the company’s iconic Pantera. It’s then fitting that De Tomaso’s rebirth—by the same enthusiastic lunatics behind the Apollo Intensa Emozione—is similarly a pan-continental project connecting American, Italian, German, and Chinese minds. 

The company’s return has been teased for nearly a year with leaked patent and trademark filings, a single social media tease, and our own private conversations with Apollo’s brain trust, CEO Norman Choi and General Manager Ryan Berris. Finally, we have tangible news to report on as De Tomaso’s debut is set for July 4 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

While we have a debut date, details on De Tomaso’s first new automobile since Alejandro’s death in 2003 are still limited. Details are coming, but those are to be released closer to the car’s official launch. As for right now, the forthcoming car goes by the code-name "Project P." When we caught up with Berris earlier this week, we prodded him with more detailed questions about Project P. Though he couldn't get into specifics, Berris told The Drive that De Tomaso is working with a handful of Apollo Automobil’s “existing technical partnerships” to build the car. Furthermore, the team is bringing on a “world-renown German engineering firm” to help present Project P at Goodwood as it “will not be a static show-car shell.” Color us intrigued. 

Though The Drive isn't the only one to have seen Apollo’s cheeky social media teaser, we asked if the company could send us a higher resolution picture to better understand Project P’s design and proportions. They obliged. Though the teaser image is still quite blurry, to our eyes Project P very much resembles Pantera designer Tom Tjaarda’s initial aesthetic. There’s his definitive sleek mid-engine design as well as the Pantera’s signature wide rear haunches. Aside from that, it’s hard to get a clear grasp of the car’s dimensions or overall design. We’ll just have to wait for further disclosures. 

As to the rebirth itself, Alejandro De Tomaso deserves more than just to be remembered for the Pantera—or so argues the team behind the company’s rebirth. 

When we asked Berris why should the De Tomaso moniker be brought back after so many years, he told The Drive, “Alejandro’s journey was never properly told and we feel his name should be commonly recognized amongst greats such as Enzo Ferrari and Ferruccio Lamborghini.” He added, “Alejandro, [though] a controversial figure, was a visionary and a man on a mission. What he achieved is nothing short of astonishing. I am sure there is no shortage of skeptics who have their reservations about the credibility and execution of a potential revival of this legendary marque. And rightfully so. But I think once people see the new car and hear the story behind the brand and our revival, that they may take a pause to collect their thoughts. It was and is important for us to do things right.”

Berris’ comment on doing things right was integral to the strategy behind the brand’s revival, according to the team. Choi’s Ideal Team Venture’s company purchased the De Tomaso rights and trademarks all the way back in 2014 and have remained largely silent since. In that time, the company has put together a team, studied the brand’s legacy, and settled upon a path that will hopefully not only bring the De Tomaso name back, but do so in a way that honors Alejandro De Tomaso’s legacy. With a month an a half left until the Goodwood Festival of Speed, we’re absolutely eager to find out just what the rebirthed De Tomaso has in store for us. We can't wait until it steps into the limelight once again.