If you haven’t seen a De Tomaso Longchamp on the streets of your town lately, there is a very good reason for this. A grand total of 409 Longchamps were made during eighteen years of production, a number small enough to make ZiL’s limousine production facility go Pff, and the Rolls-Royce Camargue
high tech assembly line some bloke’s garage turn green with envy.
The Longchamp itself was based on the De Tomaso Deauville, another vehicle not known for its ubiquity in the US. First shown at the 1972 Turin Motor Show, the Longchamp was well received, though by 1973 things had turned quite sour for the supercar industry due to the oil crisis. Designed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia, the Longchamp borrowed the basic platform and transmission from the Deauville, using the 351 Ford Cleveland V8 which was popular in hybrid supercars of the time. Let’s take a closer look at this coupe after the jump.
Remarkably, the design aged very little during the eighteen years of production, with the car receiving only a small freshening in the year 1980. But the Longchamp managed to live on a bit longer in a different way as well. After De Tomaso was acquired by Maserati, Maserati rebodied the Longchamp, replacing the Ford V8 with its own powerplant, and released the car as the Maserati Kyalami for the 1977 model year. Even though the two are visually similar, every single body panel is different.
This was an easy rebody for Maserati, who at the time was not exactly running short on offerings, but the Kyalami wasn’t able to set any sales records either. To sum up, De Tomaso could barely sell it with a De Tomaso badge, and when they were taken over by Maserati, Maserati could barely sell it with a Maserati badge. Of course, economics had a lot to do with that, and the car itself was never available in the US to begin with. Ironically (and I’m using the local TV news definition of irony here) the Kyalami ended up being more reliable than other Maserati models of the time due to its older running gear. But then again, a lot of cars were more reliable than the Maseratis of the 1980s, so the bar wasn’t set especially high.
The Longchamp Spyder was available starting in 1980, though very few examples were actually built. A GTS version was also unveiled that same year, which basically meant a horsepower bump and flared wheelarches. At some point production of the Cleveland V8 dried up stateside, and Maserati (and it was Maserati at this point in time) started getting their engines from Australia. The Longchamp aged much like other supercars of the 1970s, growing wings, spoilers, and flares. Eventually the top version gained the badge GTS/E, which meant the buyer got an extra helping of spoilers, arches, and horsepower.
This 1974 example made its second appearance at Greenwich in 2012, last appearing here in 2010. As you can see in the photos, I was the only person besides the staff and the judges there in 2012. They really need to advertise and try to get more visitors to come out every year, cause it’s just me, Kamil, and Kitman there every year. And the hot dog cart guy.
All kidding aside, this was one of the best treats of Greenwich 2012, because at the end of the day all red Ferraris (and they’re all red here) begin to invite yawns. And what concours is short on classic red Ferraris that are all called the 250? My point exactly. And that’s why you should put the Greenwich Concours on your calendar.
Full gallery from Greenwich Concours 2012 below:
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]