Cars that time forgot - DeTomaso Longchamp

A lot of people remember Detomaso as the maker of mid engined, Ford V8 powered sports cars. But what most don't know is the pair of more......practical cars that were made alongside the Pantera in the 70s and 80s. The same basic platofrm was made into both a coupe/convertible and a sedan. Both cars were based heavily off of the Maserati Quattroporte chassis, but the coupe Longchamp used a shortened version of this chassis while the Deauville sedan used it with only minor modifications. Even though the Deauville is rarer, the longchamp can be had with a manual and Jalopnik already has some brief writings about the sedan.


I want it!

Seriously, look at this magnificent beast. In GTS trim, those bulging arches and quad tips give it some real presence. On top of that, it was surprisngly well balanced and a good cruiser with a powerful (for the era) Ford 351 V8 equipped with either a C-6 3-speed auto or an incredibly lustworthy ZF 5-speed manual box.

Why was it forgotten?

The Pantera. The Pantera is the reason. No one even remembers "DeTomaso" they just know they want a Pantera. Italian mid-engined supercar powered by a Ford V8? It's every hot rodder's dream! They can finally admit to enjoying things like handling and aerodynamics but since it has a 'MURICAN V8 it's all good. Meanwhile, the Deauville Sedan and Longchamp Coupes were left in the history books as DeTomaso never did a follow up, nor did it have a predecessor as the pantera had with the Mangusta. All of this is a massive shame as the longchamp is quite sexy and lean for such a simple design. Even in 'roided out GTS trim.


412 is the "official" production number of the longchamp. Less than 30 are true GTS models with less than 20 convertibles. There are exactly 3 GTS convertibles so if you see one, buy a lotto ticket.


Why should I remember it?

The longchamp is part of one of the oddest pieces of chassis sharing in the automotive world. The third gen quattroporte was reworked a bit to become the DeTomaso Deauville, which was then shortened and tightened a bit to become the longchamp coupe and then that was simply rebadged as the Kylami and given the family V8s to go back to being a Maserati. I'm trying to see if there was another example of that type of car sharing and I can't seem to find a similar example. See, the Kylami was NOT planned from the Quattroporte III's chassis designs. It came about after DeTomaso took their variation of the Q-III's sedan chassis and turned it into a big coupe. So while related, the Kylami is not simply a 2-door Q-III.


And yet this car somehow......just worked. It was compared very favorably to the rest of the luxo-coupes of the day in both refinement and performance. It might be a parts bin special car, one that takes a part or two from every bin of nearby suppliers, but it comes together thanks to a lot of clever choices. For example - the car has two fuel tanks at either side in the rear so that it has a big enough trunk for things (probably golf clubs, but still). The use of the ford automatic with the 351 V8 meant that it was much easier to service and maintain. Probably an easier sell than the Maseratis which were powered by bespoke V8s of italian heritage. This Ford motor was also tuned to 270, 300, or 330hp which was a lot in the smog years. Remember, this was when the corvette's 5.7L V8 made less than 200hp. All of that with a very luxurious interior and wrapped up in that stunningly handsome body. Still, it wasn't enough to stave off obscurity....


The fate of being a half-blood

Ultimately, this car represents the unfortunate fate that befalls other cars of less than "pure" status. It was never really a true *exotic* thanks to the use of Ford parts. As such, it isn't like a Maserati or Ferrari. It isn't even like Pagani, who have AMG build them a bespoke V12. If you're going to bring in parts from someone else, AMG is hardly a poor choice. But a steering wheel that looks like the one in your neighbor's Fairmont or whatever? That hurts. It doesn't matter that it was cheaper and more reliable than the other italians of the day. It doesn't matter that it was a bit more engaging than the german coupes of the day. It just wasn't "pure" enough to capture an audience. Not back then, and not now either. Bringing one up gives rise to calls of "Oh it isn't a maserati or Aston Martin? Why bother!" or "Well it just copied off the mercedes SL!!" (side note - the deauville sedan was released in 1971 and the longchamp in 1972. The SL that this car 'copied' off of was released in 1972 as well. Suck it, haters!). So I'm here today, now, in this article, to ask of you - would you really say no? I mean, really? Because I don't think you'd turn your nose up at one.


Let's say you've got a bit of money and want a classic luxury coupe. If one was up for sale, and that ZF 5-speed was sitting up front, just egging you on "C'mon, c'mon, c'mooooooooooon!..... GRAB ME!" you'd think about it. And hopefully after this article.....You'd stop. You wouldn't bother looking at the Ferrari or Maserati or Mercedes. You'd know better, hop in that longchamp, and give a stiff middle finger along with 351 cubic inches of freedom to the rest of the gentry while sitting in sumptuous Italian leather. And you'd look damn good doing it.

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