1981 De Tomaso Longchamp GTS Spyder – Factory RHD ***New Price***
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale an extremely rare De Tomaso Longchamp GTS Spyder.
The history file for the car contains the original build sheets. These confirm this car is a factory right hand drive, Australian delivered De Tomaso Longchamp GTS Spyder ordered by Automobili De Tomaso (AUST) Pty Ltd, Haberfield NSW on the 2nd October 1980 and shipped on the 8th June 1981. The car was ordered in ‘rosso fuoco’ (fire red) with a beige leather interior and a black soft top. The build sheets also confirm this car was shipped without an engine. As with all De Tomasos of this era, they were fitted with an Australian built Ford 351 Cleveland V8 engine. There is lots of correspondence on file dating back to the late 1980 when the car was originally ordered. This car was a special order for De Tomaso importer Ken Mathews. There is also documentation and an invoice on file from Carrozerria Pavesi in Milan, who converted the original Longchamps to GTS specifications and installed the electric soft top.
The car was on the cover of a period De Tomaso Australia Pty Ltd brochure and it was featured in the September 2002 issue of Australian Classic Car (ACC) magazine. At the time of the ACC magazine article the car was owned by well known ‘blue oval’ tragic and owner of Ford Muscle Parts, Bob Matic.
The article provides some history on the car and that Matic purchased the Longchamp in c1998. It states ” . . . I first heard of the GTS Spyder about four years back . . . there was a lady owner before me and I think just one owner before her”. It is understood that Matic sold the car to a private collector in Melbourne and that he never used it. The current owner acquired the car some 12 months ago and has had it recomissioned. The car was featured in the ACC magazine article with aftermarket mag wheels which the current owner has removed. It is now fitted with correct style Compagnolo alloy wheels, unique to De Tomaso, along with new Nankang tyres – 225/50/15 at the front and 295/50/15 at the rear.
The ACC magazine article confirms that Matic had the car repainted soon after acquiring it. The repaint is now around 25 years old and it has stood the test of time really well. The paint work is still in excellent condition. It has a strong depth of colour and a deep gloss finish to it. The only noticeable defect in the paint is around the lower section of the rear wheel arch flares. There is some gravel rash evident there. Fortunately, it’s at the very bottom of the flares and therefore it isn’t that noticeable when you walk around the car. The panel gaps are often an issue on bespoke convertible cars, however, on this car they are very good. The doors have not sagged and they still open and close with a firm ‘thud’.
The headlights and front indicators are all in good condition. As for the tail light lenses, they are generally in good condition, but if you look closely you will notice some evidence of over tightening of the screws in the reverse light section of the tail lights on both sides. The bumpers and the badges are all in good condition.
The car is fitted with a soft top which opens and closes with the push of a button. The soft top is still in excellent condition and it works well. Even the rear window, which often discolours on a convertible, is in good condition.
Inside the car, the interior looks to be totally original. It presents well with some light patina consistent with the car’s age and mileage. The seats are comfortable and provide ample support. The seats are in good condition and there are no rips or tears in the leather. The rear seats appear to have hardly been used. The door cards are in good condition though we did notice two caps are missing on the driver side door. The steering wheel, whilst not original, is in good condition.
The dashboard on a Longchamp is pretty impressive. It’s hard to describe why, but it is exactly what you expect to find in a car like this. It is luxurious and functional in that Italian kind of way! All the instruments are within easy reach and all the gauges are clearly visible. On our recent test drive all the instruments appear to be in good working order. In general, the dashboard is in a good condition though we did notice the plastic cover for the DEF warning light is missing and there is a small crack in the veneer near the radio.
The engine bay presents well. According the ACC magazine article Matic rebuilt the engine on the car. He states “ . . . I wasn’t too sure about the condition of the engine. While it ran, I wanted to be sure about its reliability. So we removed it and fitted new pistons, rings and bearings, as well as regrinding the crank and port and polishing the heads”.
After having admired the exterior and interior of the car the one obvious question which still needs to be answered is . . . How does it drive? We make ourselves comfortable behind the steering wheel, insert the key into the ignition and start the car. First impressions are good, the car starts easily and quickly settles into a smooth idle. Whilst it should be strange to hear the sound of an Australian V8 when you’re in an Italian car, somehow it isn’t. The rumble of the V8 just emphasizes the muscle car image this car has. We put our foot on the brake, put the automatic gearbox into drive and off we go. It doesn’t take long for one to feel comfortable in this car. There is plenty of power on tap from the Ford V8 and the car happily responds to the slightest touch of the throttle. This car is so easy to drive and it just begs you to keep driving it! Obviously, on this sunny Brisbane afternoon, we have the top down so we can enjoy the sunshine and of course the sound of the V8 engine. Even with the top down this car is relatively quiet. There is not a lot of wind noise and you can easily have a conversation with your passenger(s). Yet, when the opportunity arrives and you give the car and firm push on the throttle. Instantly, all conversation stops and you take in the fabulous noise from 351 Cleveland V8 as you are firmly pushed back in your seat.
The Longchamp is not a small car, yet it feels quite compact when you are behind the wheel. The power assisted steering is excellent. You expect it to be heavy, but it is not at all. It is precise and with just the right amount of feel. The car steers, handles and stops really well.
All too quickly our test drive comes to an end and its time to park the car back into our showroom.
As you will see from the photos the car has been lowered at the front, which was most likely done by Matic. We prefer the original stance of the car and would return it to its original ride height, though that decision is for the car’s lucky new owner.
This Italian muscle car with a strong Aussie connection is just a fabulous thing and one of the more unique and exciting cars we have offered for sale in some time!
- Extremely rare De Tomaso Longchamp GTS Spyder.
- Even rarer, Australian delivered, factory right hand drive example.
- Unquestionable provenance – original build sheets are with the car.
- Featured on the cover of a period De Tomaso Australia Pty Ltd brochure.
- Featured in the September 2002 issue of Australian Classic Car magazine.
- Well presented car that is ready to use and enjoy.
Born on 10th July 1928 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Alejandro De Tomaso grew up among a family known to be quite politically influential and very wealthy.
From an early age racing and race cars had been a real passion for De Tomaso. In 1945 he drove his first race in a modified Bugatti Type 35. In 1954 he was offered the opportunity to race for Maserati in the 1,000 km race of Buenos Aires and returned to win that race in 1955 a Maserati A6GCS.
That same year De Tomaso moved to Italy and started working for OSCA in Bologna as a test driver. In the meantime, he kept racing. In 1957 he won the 1,500cc class at the Buenos Aires 1,000 km race driving a new OSCA. In 1958 he drove an OSCA with a 750cc engine at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and finished a very credible 11th overall, averaging over 140km/h.
In 1958 De Tomaso built his first car. It featured the 750cc OSCA engine mounted in front of the rear axle, quite an unusual design for that time. Unfortunately, the car never raced as the Maserati bothers, who owned OSCA, forbid him to use the engine.
In 1959 De Tomaso moved to Modena and built his second car, an F2 race car, again which an OSCA engine which this time he was allowed to use. The car made its debut at Sebring in 1959. The car was called Isis after his wife. Unfortunately, mechanical issues forced the car to retire from the race. After many more adventures and attempts to produce various race cars, De Tomaso introduced their first production car in 1965, a two seater coupe named Vallelunga. The car remained in production until 1967 and 59 examples were built including the prototype.
In 1966 De Tomaso opened a new factory which allowed him to follow his dreams and expand production of his cars. In 1967 the De Tomaso Mangusta was introduced. The stunning Mangusta, which was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro whilst working for Ghia, remained in production through until 1971 and 401 examples were produced. In 1967 De Tomaso acquired Carrozzeria Ghia and 1969 he acquired Carrozzeria Vignale. These acquisitions were not financially successful, however, they did provide an introduction to Henry Ford II, which ultimately had a big impact on his future.
The Ford Motor Company subsequently took a controlling stake in De Tomaso as well as Ghia and Vignale.
This relationship led to one of the world’s most iconic sports cars being developed – the legendary De Tomaso Pantera. Designed by Carrozzeria Ghia’s American born Tom Tjaarda, the Pantera was built with the American market in mind. De Tomaso had the rights to sell the Pantera, except in North America, where Ford sold the car through their Lincoln-Mercury dealers. The Pantera was a huge success, with more than 7,000 cars built before production ceased in 1992.
At the 1970 Turin Motor Show, De Tomaso introduced a four door luxury sedan, the De Tomaso Deauville, which was powered by the same 351 (5,763 cc) Ford Cleveland V8 engine as was used in the Pantera. The Deauville was a direct competitor to the Maserati Quattroporte and Iso Fidia as well as a unique alternative to other period luxury sports salons. In total, 244 cars were produced between 1971 and 1985.
In 1972, De Tomaso introduced the De Tomaso Longchamp at the Turin Motor Show. The Longchamp was derived from the Deauville. It had a shorter wheelbase but the same suspension, engine and transmission. Again, the Ford Cleveland 351 (5,763 cc) engine was the preferred choice to power this De Tomaso. When Ford stopped producing this engine in the US, De Tomaso started sourcing the engines from Australia. The standard gearbox was a three-speed Ford C6 Cruise-o-Matic automatic transmission, however, a few cars were equipped with a five speed ZF manual transmission.
Production of the Longchamp started in early 1973. The Series 2 Longchamp was introduced in 1980. Also introduced in 1980 at the Turin Motor Show was the sportier GTS version. The most noticeable difference with the standard model were the flared wheel arches to accommodate the wider Campagnolo wheels which were shod with Pirelli P7 tyres. A cabriolet version, the Spyder, was introduced at the same time. The Spyder was built by Carrozerria Pavesi of Milan. Production of the Longchamp officially ended in 1986, but cars remained to be sold from stock through until 1989. By that time it is understood that 409 cars were built, 395 coupes and only 14 Spyders. Of the 14 Spyders, perhaps half were GTS’ and it is understood that four were factory right hand GTS Spyders.
- De Tomaso Longchamp GTS Spyder
- 82,932 km