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Well, I've had the "new" Longchamp in my hands for almost a week. I've been going through and over the car giving it what my close friends know I always do: clean, wet-sand, detail, buff, polish, fix things and make it as close to perfect as possible. But today I actually drove it for the first time. Sure, I drove it on and off the trailer and around a parking lot, but today I hit the road and went for a decent cruise on my favorite abandoned country roads near my place. The car ran beautifully. It is amazingly compliant and tight. Absolutely NOTHING squeaks or rattles. The alignment is way off (too much toe out and not enough front castor) but I was very pleasantly surprised at what a great cruising machine this car is. It really is an executive Pantera. Or, as I am now thinking of it, a De Tomaso version of the Ferrari 400GT. And a better version at that. This car is one of only 10 (according to a De Tomaso letter) that was built with a manual transmission.

After a good run I decided to pull off to the side of the road to take a few photos. As I did a big Mercedes pulled off a few hundred feet back. A guy jumped out and ran over saying "oh, my god... is that a LONGCHAMP?!". Well, I was blown away. My very first outing and the very first person to see the car knew what it was. Clearly I live in the right neighborhood! We had a great chat and I think I've convinced him to sell his Alfa and join our fraternity. He has been a De Tomaso fan for years but they always seemed just out of reach.

Anyway, here are some of the shots of my new baby.

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Mark, congratulations on finally growing up. I've stated this before, any Pantera owner that's NOT in the market for a Longchamp should have his head examined. Big Grin Perhaps more so when they cost nothing, now they're getting more expensive.

And yes, you'll be constantly surprised at how people react to it. You kind of expect a reaction with a Pantera, but I've been surprised at people actually running across the street at great peril to be sure to catch me when I was parking my Longchamp in Copenhagen. A guy at my wife's workplace constantly states that the Longchamp is the most beatiful car in world. And once a guy followed me home to talk about the Longchamp.

I once did this list, just before I bought my Longchamp: If you look for a car with these credential, what would it be:
-300HP V8
-Almost racecar handling
-GT type interior
-Auto trans(yes, gotta have that Smiler )
-Low cost of buying
-Low cost of maintaining
-Low cost of making faster
-Absolutely superior sound
-Decent trunk etc. for daily use
Not many alternatives out there I think.

Forgive my excitement, can't help reattaching picture from Spa track session, where I for some reason ended up in front of everyone, including the Ferrari just behind me. I was about to overtake the pacecar when they made it clear to me that that was not popular

For the money, it's simply the best car in the world.


Images (1)
  • RM7A0501_Longchamp_Spa
George Pence asked me today how I liked the Longchamp and I realized I haven't shared much about it since I got it.

Build and restoration quality of the car is great but "Lucas"-like wiring is an issue. Initially I had a LOT of electrical Gremlins to deal with to get the car plated so I could drive it on open roads. Almost none of the lighting worked properly except the headlights. Then a few small issues needed attention (trunk wouldn't stay open, rough idle from a cracked graphite post in the distributor, fluid changes, a solid cleaning inside & out, paint chip & scrape touch-ups, wet-sanding, buffing, replaced some small missing trim bits, new signal lights all around, new headlights (thanks to Simon in Holland for helping me score those!), various adjustments that always seem to accompany an old car purchase. Now the main stuff is done.

I have only had it out three or four times (3-4 times more than either Pantera incidentally) but so far it's been FANTASTIC. The car is fast, stable, handles extremely well for a "luxo" cruiser and makes all the right sounds at a tolerable level. It's even quieter with the windows closed. A huge trunk and big, comfy seats that you can easily get into (yes, I'm getting old) and out of make it a classic you can actually live with. The 5-speed is very nice and it accelerates almost like a silver '74 Pantera. Big Grin And I KNOW the brakes work REALLY well because my friend Denis was driving it and mistook the clutch for a brake pedal. Eeker Pretty dramatic to be driving beside your own car when it goes into full lock-up!
burn rubber

I took the car to our annual Italian Week celebrations and I got a lot of very nice compliments on the car. During the driving parade though "Little Italy" that occurs as part of the event, there were a few puzzled looks trying to figure out what the car was — many more when they heard it zoom past with that deep Cleveland rumble.

The next day I fulfilled a promise to take it to a small car show another friend organizes. It's mostly 50's and 60's American cars so I felt a LOT out-of-place with my "modern" Italian machine. Everyone was really taken with the car though. It was fun to see the looks on their faces when I answered (what year is it?) that it was a 1978 — especially since I was parked beside my friend's 1978 AMC Gremin. What a design contrast!

I'm really quite shocked that I ACTUALLY get more interest in the Longchamp when I stop for gas, coffee etc. than I usually do in the Panteras. And I thought it would be a "sleeper" that everyone would ignore while I had fun. Nope.

In short, I love the Longchamp. You guys likely would too.

Really a very beautiful and underrated car. It shares the basic body and the suspension with the Maserati Kyalami. The rear suspension is a beefed up classic Jag IRS - I looked at the same beefed up IRS in a Quatrroporte in a Jag wrecking yard a couple of years ago.

Great score and good to see it on the road again. A keeper for sure!
Originally posted by Belgiumbarry:
NICE ! applause

what gearbox did they use in this car ?
transmission I think is a ZF 5DS-24/2 as used in Aston Martins and manual Iso Grifos during that era if it has a 'dogleg' pattern - first gear down to the right or a ZF S5-325 if it has an H+1 pattern with fifth gear being up on the right. If anybody knows for sure I am open to correction Wink
Hi Dvil, if you look closely, those installed on Mark's Longchamp are not the Vitaloni Tornado used on Quattroporte, Kyalami, and also Renault 5 Alpine Turbo and some Alpine A310. They are not the same shape and not fixed on the door panel.
By the way, it's possible to find the Tornados as new, but they are smaller than those original on the Longchamp (so called "baby Tornado"). I understand the correct size was installed on the Renault 5 Turbo.
Yeah, sorry. Don't know what I was thinking. They are very far from the mirror I was refering to. Razzer
Maybe I looked at the picture of Mikaels "champ". Thanks to you I now know what they are.
I remember seeing those window mounted mirrors on some Panteras. My bad memory says Fiat Ritmo (?).
Originally posted by racheliane:
Hi Mark, do you know from what car are the back mirrors installed on your Longchamp? and how are they attached to the door?

Sorry for the delay Recheliane,

The mirrors are NOT original to the car as far as I know. They are bonded (tape and silicone) to the glass quarter windows and appear to be the same as many people added to their Panteras in the 1980's and '90s. I seem to recall someone saying this type of mirror came from a Dodge Colt. Regardless, I don't love them and may eventually replace them with the chromed Vitaloni units that you often see on other Longchamps and Maserati sedans.


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