The cars we loved.
There have only been about 7 cars in Italian carmaker De Tomaso’s portfolio since 1960. The smaller Modena, Italy based company could never seem to keep up with Ferrari and Lamborghini in sheer output. But for what they could not produce in sheer numbers they made up for in style and personality. One of those cars was the Deauville, the company’s first large four door sedan.
Designed by Tom Tjaarda of Ghia fame, the Deauville was stately, yet muscular looking with its big 15 inch alloy wheels filling up the wells. It was first shown in Turin at the 1970 Motorshow. It was designed to compete with cars like the Jaguar XJ, a car it shamelessly had more than a few similarities to. Although the overall look was Dechamp coupe inspired, from the rear quarter view it looked very much like the big cat. The long nose and fender vents were classic sports car traits shared with the DeChamp coupe.
One thing the Jaguar lacked was a familiar feature in De Tomaso’s; a big Ford V8. In the case of the Deauville a 300 hp Cleveland V8 from the Pantera was the engine of choice. It offered similar performance to the smaller Pantera with a top speed of 143 mph. Because the Mustang derived engine was simple, it was easy to maintain, unlike the temperamental high-strung V8 and V12s coming out of Europe. Still, the ideal that such power would be under the hood of a modern sedan from an exotic car maker was, well unprecedented.
Technically sophisticated, the Deauville had four-wheel ventilated disc brakes and a fully independent suspension – just like the Jag XJ. Bit for bit, the Deauville was every bit as exotic as the Pantera, save for the mid-engine design. It’s far more exclusive because so few were built and sold by comparison. A Pantera could be bought at almost any Ford dealership in America, while the Deauville would be a rare sight in the States.
Posh and comfortable inside, the cabin featured beautiful, but simple dash with wood grain surfaces. Air conditioning, radio and full instrumentation were standard. Early cars had leather and velour seats, but leather would win out towards the end. The American style console shifter managed the 3 speed automatic transmission (also from Ford). At well over 4,000 lb, the Deauville rode smoothly on its 109 inch wheelbase, although in keeping with its Italian heritage, it was a true driver’s car capable of cruising up to 142 mph.
There were a few variations of the Deauville, most notably a one-off station wagon, but in all there were only 244 examples produced in a period of well over a decade. Gradual changes were marked by 3 Series. By the third evolution (actually Series II 1978-1985), the last iteration, the Deauville had changed very little except for wheels, trim and a gradual lack of chrome. Towards the end many Deauvilles were still fitted with evolved versions of the Cleveland V8. In 351 guises it produced 330 hp. De Tomaso would not follow-up the Deauville with another sedan, instead they focused more on big GT cars (Longchamp) and evolving the Pantera exotic.
In 2011 De Tomaso showed a Deauville concept at the Geneva Motor Show. This time it eschewed its old Jaguar influences to resemble an Aston Martin or the then unreleased 2nd generation Ford Fusion. The new Deauville if produced is expected to be rear or all-wheel drive and have nearly 500 hp in top form.