Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: The De Tomaso 1600 was a blatant copy of what car?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you are right.
To auto enthusiasts Argentinian ex-pat Alejandro De Tomaso will probably best be known as the man who gave us the Pantera. Oh sure, he gave us the Mangusta, the Vallelunga, Deauville, a garish Dodge Omni and many more, but it will most likely be the Pantera that will prove his legacy.
To other automakers, De Tomaso will likely be remembered differently. To them he will probably be remembered for being a big pain in the ass.
One piece of evidence of this is the 1971 De Tomaso 1600. One look at the car and you’ll note that it looks damn familiar, almost exactly like the later Fiat X1/9 in fact. Take a closer look at its story and you’ll see why.
De Tomaso 1600 Spider, 1971, by Ghia. Bearing a striking resemblance to Bertone’s Fiat X1/9, the 1600 Spider was designed by Tom Tjaarda and powered by a 16 valve 1600cc Ford BDA engine. The De Tomaso was first shown at the Turin Motor Show of 1971 but never made it into production. The Fiat X1/9 debuted in 1972.
The story goes that De Tomaso was given access to the pre-production X1/9 at Bertone and wanting to tweak the noses of the Fiat higher ups brought Tjaarda there and told him to copy it. Tjaarda did the Jaguar XJ6-aping Deauville for De Tomaso the same year so I guess he didn’t have a problem riffing on other people’s work when it was in support of a good joke.
De Tomaso debuted the 1600 at the 1971 Turin Motor Show, with a Ford BDA four and riding on Vallelunga-sourced suspension. Of course De Tomaso would have never been able to produce the car in the numbers that Fiat was planning for the X1/9, nor with the economic efficiencies of the huge auto maker. That consigned the 1600 to a one-time joke and nothing more.