AlejandrodeTomaso was one of the most influential persons in the history of motorsports in its beginnings, less as a driver and more as a car constructor and an owner of De Tomaso Automobili company, which he founded in 1959.
Alejandro de Tomaso
The Argentinian of Italian origin
Alejandro was born in July 1928 in Buenos Aires, in a family of high political influence. Unfortunately, Alejandro and his family were forced to leave Argentina in 1955 after some members of his family were accused of the try to overthrow the president Juan Peron.
De Tomaso family fled back to Italy, their native land, what proved to be a good opportunity for young enthusiast. Because of his origin, by many, he was often 'renamed' to Alessandro.
Two great wins in a short racing career
De Tomaso always was cars and racing enthusiast. Soon after arrival in Italy, de Tomaso became involved in the car industry and started relatively short and not so glorious racing career during which, among other things, he drove two Formula 1 Grand Prix races. In 1957, he finished ninth in the Argentine Grand Prix while two years later he retired from the US Grand Prix at Sebring.
On the other side, he was much more successful in sports car races. He recorded many starts in some endurance classics such were Mille Miglia, Sebring 12 Hours, Nurburgring 1000 km or Le Mans 24 Hours, scoring several good results. In 1958, he was S750 class winner at Sebring 12 Hours and Le Mans 24 Hours in an Osca S750.
De Tomaso was better in designing and producing racing cars than driving it
Start of De Tomaso company
After he has concluded that his future in racing is not bright, de Tomaso switched attention to car industry. In 1959, he founded company De Tomaso in Modena.
Various types of sports cars, racing cars, including the ones for Formula 1, and prototypes were made in De Tomaso factory over the years, many of them being revolutionary in design and many of them still have legendary status.
De Tomaso with one of Formula cars designed and made by his company
Rescuing Maserati in 1974
De Tomaso company led by Alejandro quickly became very successful and in the late 1960s and 1970s was leader and initiator of Italian automotive industry. De Tomaso acquired some well-known companies involved in the business, like Innocenti, Moto Guzzi, Benelli or Ghia. Probably the most interesting story is about how De Tomaso saved famous Maserati from bankruptcy in 1974, buying the company with a help of the Italian government.
In 1981, De Tomaso relaunched Maserati to the world stage but couldn’t stay there for a long time. Alejandro and his company always were short of money to compete with other cars manufacturing giants. However, in the mid-90’s, de Tomaso sold Maserati to Fiat but it always will be remembered that he was the man who saved famous Italian marque from disaster.
De Tomaso in his factory
De Tomaso was a good businessman
Alejandro de Tomaso almost always knew when was the moment for the sale. Before he sold Maserati, he sold Ghia to Ford and Innocenti to Fiat. In 1993, just before he sold Maserati, de Tomaso suffered a hard stroke which left him unable to speak and wheelchair bound.
His son Santiago take care about De Tomaso company which, sadly, went into a liquidation in 2004 and since 2009 is owned by Gian Mario Rossignolo.
Alejandro de Tomaso died in Modena in May 2003. His legacy to the world is famous cars like Vallelunga, Mangusta, Deauville, Maserati Kyalami and especially De Tomaso Pantera which was very popular in the United States.
De Tomaso posing in front of Ford headquarters in Detroit, 1971