While Alejandro De Tomaso made his name and reputation building race cars, it was no secret that he harbored the desire to build road cars. The early 60s saw the culmination of those ambitions, with the introduction of the 1962 De Tomaso Vallelunga, a small, mid-engine sports cars. De Tomaso is certainly better known for his larger, V8-powered cars, such as the Pantera, but it all began with a small, light and nimble little car called the Vallelunga, after the racetrack used by De Tomaso to test his cars. The cars, with a backbone chassis, were originally built with an aluminum body, but later production by Ghia (which De Tomaso later owned) was fiberglass.
The Vallelunga was fitted with a 1.6-liter Ford four-cylinder engine, producing 102 horsepower. Despite its apparent lack of power, it was powerful enough to propel the little car to a top speed of 130 miles per hour.
The 1962 De Tomaso Vallelunga was a fast, agile and good-looking little car, but it suffered from design flaws, particularly its chassis, which was nowhere stiff enough to hold up. Nevertheless, and although only about 50 were ever built, the Vallelunga proved a pioneer in the design of mid-engine sports car.