About That Mystery Car

Well that was even easier than I thought it would be. Syrax guessed correctly, although his trepidation evidenced by following the guess with a question mark indicates he wasn’t entirely behind that choice. UD Man came up with the right car, if not the years, and P161911 got the platform mate, which was the Maserati Quatroporte III.
And what the hell is the car in question? Well, if you like your cars rare, then meet the steak tartare of sedans, the DeTomaso Deauville.
Designed by the estimable Tom Tjaarda – the penner behind DeTomaso’s Pantera – this businessman’s express was intended to tweak the nose of Jaguar, who two years earlier had unleashed the stylistically precedent XJ6 sedan. Unlike the straight six or eventual V12 engines under the hood of the Brit, the Deauville rocked the tried and true red white and blue, as, just like the Pantera, it’s powered by Ford’s 351 Cleveland small block.

This particular Deauville is resting at a local repair shop where its owner took it seeking resurrection.  It had apparently sat for the past ten years, and both heart and soul are the worse for wear because of that. The shop has managed to get it running nicely (you just can’t kill a Cleveland) and now that it can move under its own power it’s ready to get cleaned up and made presentable.

DeTomaso in the seventies had his fingers in pretty much everybody’s pies, having bought nearly every near-defunct Italian brand. And whether it was Maserati, Moto Guzzi or Autobianchi, they all showed his influence during that era. Because of that diversification of resources DeTomaso’s own cars didn’t get the attention they deserved, and the Deauville, while intended to rival the Jag as well as the Mercedes S-Class, couldn’t compete on terms of quality or features.

Sure there’s a luxurious wood and leather interior, as well as sweet magnesium wheels and a styling house (Ghia, in the case) body wrapped around it, but the plebeian Ford shifter and the somewhat raucous engine noise proved it not to be as civilized as the competition. On the books as a production model from 1971 until 1985, only 244 ever escaped the factory, and how this one managed to make it to southern California is presently unknown. But I’m working on that.

It’s funny that the Deauville was introduced at the beginning of the ’70s, and was intended to emulate the Jag sedan. If you look at the four headlight nose, and the angular arch of the fenderline, you can’t help but think the ’80s Jag XJ80 was derived from this car. Small world, huh?

You might recognize those tail lights from the Maserati Bora and Merak, and well as DeTomaso’s own Pantera. They also found their way onto the rump of the Longchamp. The bumpers, while appearing substantial, are more for looks than keeping the hand-formed body from getting banged up.

It’s not often you come across a car as rare as this in the wild, but if you keep your eyes open you just might get lucky. Hopefully the mechanical work that has brought this car back to life is just the beginning, and in the near future we can say well done to the owner of this rare Italian.

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  1. Alff Avatar

    Cool but I'm holding out for the one with the fake wire wheels and vinyl roof – the Deauville Brougham

  2. coupeZ600 Avatar

    So the inner headlamps and the grille come up when you raise the hood? A buddy of mine had a '71 Mercury Cougar Eliminator that had the "teeth" on the grille do that, and almost every time the hood was open, somebody (usually him) would get brained by it. I always thought, "Whose idea was this?"

  3. Syrax Avatar

    Yeah, I based my guess entirely on the door handle. I thought the ass was too short to be a Deauville, hence the question mark.

  4. Tomsk Avatar

    Another thing it shares with an XJ? Those Lucas sidemarker lights, which I'm guessing were slapped on to make it street legal here. (Neither the Longchamp nor the Deauville was officially offered in the U.S., IIRC.)

    1. Alff Avatar

      As well as the dual fuel fillers on the boot.

    2. LTDScott Avatar

      I find the add-on rear reflectors odd since the lights already have reflectors in them.

      1. Alff Avatar

        I think I'd lose them and look for some more graceful bumpers. That rear is pretty shapely – it deserves to be accentuated.

    3. Robert Emslie Avatar
      Robert Emslie

      As well as the side-view mirrors, which are off of a Series III. That would make this car a late one.

  5. Mad_Hungarian Avatar

    I wanna like this, but the first thought I had was that it looks weirdly like a '72 Maverick sedan with a bit of '91 Buick Park Avenue mixed in.