It was almost inevitable that the DeTomaso Vallelunga would be built in small numbers, since it was a costly and compromised machine from an unknown brand. By the time the final Vallelunga was made in 1965, just 50 had been made by Ghia along with three aluminum-bodied protoypes and five alloy-bodied competition cars.
Just one of the Vallelungas made was right-hand drive and it was produced for Colonel Ronnie Hoare, Ferrari importer for the U.K. His plan was to fit a 148-hp Lotus twin-cam engine to create a true pocket-sized road rocket, but he found the Vallelunga simply too under-developed to be viable. He then sold the car on in 1970, by which point DeTomaso was on the verge of unveiling his best-known car, the Pantera.
Rare and obscure, Vallelungas are the most valuable vehicles in the DeTomaso legacy. Though a museum-grade (#1 condition) Mangusta specced with the higher-output engine and built between 1967 and 1970 tops out at $325,000, a Vallelunga in such better-than-factory condition is worth $390,000. For a driver-quality example with a few scuffs and bruises, you’re looking at $245,000—more than $80K more than the most valuable Pantera (a 1988 GT model in #1 condition). The first of the DeTomaso road cars hardly ever pop up for sale, either.
While imperfect at its debut, the Vallelunga established the formula of mid-engine Ford power under striking Ghia body work that the later Mangusta and Pantera would render in greater size and production count. Four years after the roadster debuted at Turin, DeTomaso would attract the eye of Lee Iacocca, then Ford’s executive vice president, and leverage its Lincoln-Mercury dealer network for less delicate, more accessible offerings. As a statement of DeTomaso’s wild, original vision, however, the Vallelunga will always stand apart.