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In 1965 Ford Motor Company came to de Tomaso. Ford had tried to purchase several European car companies including Isotta Fraschini, Ferrari then Lancia. All these efforts failed. So Ford came to de Tomaso. It was a good fit. Small car manufacturers like de Tomaso purchased parts from other companies to keep costs down. But with parts coming from other companies, reliability was often sacrificed. Ford offered its engines. From 1965 on, de Tomaso used Ford power plants. The first engine used was a one liter Anglia, then the one and half liter Cortina motor. de Tomaso and Ford decided that de Tomaso Automobili should offer a production car. It should be a mid-engine car built like his race cars with central frame. The first car was called Vallelunga, named after the Autodromo di Vallelunga racing circuit just north of Rome, Italy. It debuted at the Turin Motor Show in 1963. He produced 53 of the cars styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro in 1965. Giugiaro was involved with the Delorean and Volkswagen Golf designs.
The Vallelunga was a low sports car. Powered by the Ford Cortina 100 horsepower engine, it would be nice competition to Ferrari. The first cars were aluminum bodied, the rest of the model were fiberglass. Due to lack of space, body production was given to Ghia. Volkswagen transmissions were used. But the Vallelunga was lacking in horsepower. de Tomaso followed the success of the Shelby Cobras and knew Ford could provide bigger engines.
The success of the Cobras came from racing victories, something that would elude de Tomaso. The exact number of Vallelunga’s produced is not known, accurate records were not kept. Estimates were that between 50 and 180 were made. These cars were not shipped to the US.