Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
Alejandro de Tomaso and Tom Tjaarda
When the Longchamps was released, Alejandro de Tomaso had been designing, racing and building cars for 20 years. By that time Ford had completely bought out his interest in Ghia, Vignale and De Tomaso Automobili, so there was plenty of speculation as to what he would do with the superb looking Longchamp prototype front-engine coupe first shown at the 1973
De Tomaso claimed himself as the designer, having a thorough knowledge on the evolution of a prototype from conception to the finished car. History records Tom Tjaarda from Ghia
as the chief designer, but De Tomaso was so involved in all his projects from beginning to end that he also had the right to claim responsibility for it. And every car De Tomaso produced had style and distinction.
The Longchamp was developed from the Deauville four-door sedan, using a shorter wheelbase chassis with the same suspension, engine and transmission. These two models were the only front-engined production cars produced by De Tomaso. The styling was influenced by Tjaarda's previous Lancia Marica prototype.
The Longchamp was compared to the Mercedes 450SL
by the motoring press - but when you look at it close up there was little if any resemblance there beyond the actual grille and headlight shapes. From a standpoint of design it was deceptively large - dimensionally close to a typical mid-size American sedan (understandable given the US was always the target market). Everything was drawn tightly around the wheels, and the surface detail was outstanding. Restraint was its keynote, along with proportion and balance - not startlingly new, but the work of a master.
it represented the perfect solution to a 2 +2 design. Longchamp tooling was planned for 10 cars a day. Engine and transmission were from Ford, as usual; air-conditioning
, power steering, electric windows and the other amenities were standard as was either full leather or velvet upholstery. The prototype had velvet, which strangely was more expensive than leather because it was more difficult to work with. At the Turin show De Tomaso was pricing the Longchamp at US$12,000, which, considering what you got for your money, made it a bargain.
The Longchamp was initially offered only as a two-door 2+2 coupé. The taillights were the same units as were used for the Alfa Romeo 1750
/2000 saloon.The Longchamp featured a long hood to accommodate a 351 in³ (5766cc) Ford Cleveland V8. The 351 Cleveland, a popular engine in late 1960s Ford "muscle cars," was the same as that used in the Pantera
. The Cleveland produced 330 hp (246 kW) and gave the Longchamp a 240 km/h (149 mph) top speed. The engine power was later reduced to 270 hp (200 kW). The standard gearbox was a 3-speed Ford C-6 Cruise-o-Matic automatic gearbox
, however around 17 cars were equipped with a 5-speed ZF manual gearbox
. The suspension
was independent front and rear with coil spring and wishbone suspension. Steering
was power assisted rack and pinion with vented disc brakes
all around, the rear discs being positioned inboard.
Series 2 Longchamp
the modernized series 2 was introduced, with slight modifications occurring later as well. A Longchamp GTS variant was introduced at the 1980
Turin Motor Show, featuring wider wheels and flared wheel arches and minor suspension setting differences to better utilize the wider Campagnolo wheels with Pirelli P7 tyres. A Longchamp cabriolet variant ("Spyder") also appeared at the 1980 Turin Motor Show. It was made by Carrozerria Pavesi of Milan, and a small number were built to GTS specifications. Pavesi also converted a number of older coupés.
A total of 409 Longchamps were built (395 coupes and 14 spyders) between 1972
, with only a couple per year built during the last years. The vast majority are of Series 1 specifications. Some claim that production actually came to an end in 1986
, with later cars being sold from stock. The Maserati Kyalami was very similar to the Longchamp, although no body panels were actually shared. The Kyalami also used a Maserati V8, rather than the Ford unit favoured by De Tomaso.