BMW to buy De Tomaso?

If you thought Audi buying Ducati was unusual, get this: BMW is reportedly interested in buying De Tomaso, the Italian sports car brand that went into liquidation in 2004.

The Italian Industry Ministry is in discussions with several suitors, one of which is BMW, a trade union has revealed. The Ministry reportedly hopes to begin a sales process by the middle of October.

The sale would be for the structural assets of De Tomaso, including the firm’s former production facility in Modena, Italy. Another deal to buy De Tomaso, which included also buying an ex-Pininfarina factory near Turin, fell through earlier in the year.

Here's one they made earlier
Here's one they made earlier
But the big question is, why? What would BMW get from buying the assets of a borderline Italian sports car brand that was founded in 1959, used to own Maserati and Moto Guzzi, showed an intriguing SUV crossover at Geneva 2011 (main pic) but otherwise appears to offer little obvious appeal?

There are several theories. One, BMW wants an Italian sports car brand to rival Audi’s ownership of Lamborghini (a 21st century version of the Pantera is said to be under development). Two, it sees an opportunity to expand into the super-luxury SUV market with a production version of that Geneva concept aimed at models such as the Bentley EXP 9F (it has the underpinnings, after all: the X5/X6 M and X5/X6 M50d duo for starters).

Here's one they might make later
Here's one they might make later
And the most intriguing theory of all? That BMW wants to put the beautiful Z4-derived Zagato concept into production, wearing De Tomaso badging. Pure speculation, but intriguing, don’t you think? Particularly if it could be built in low volumes by Modenese craftsmen.

Delve deep and the purchase does make more sense than first appears, but it remains a curious one – particularly given the brand’s glaring lack of recent-years heritage.

Indeed, De Tomaso is most recently known for its odd and tumultuous alliance with Qvale, which led to its turnaround mid-90s Biguà becoming the Qvale Mangusta. Which later became the MG SV, a car designed to help MG become a sporting brand after it had been sold by, of all firms, BMW. Small world…

And here's one they've forgotten about
And here's one they've forgotten about

Comments (101) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Frimley111R 18 Sep 2012

    I thought that they didn't want it at all, they just want the factory? I really can't see De Tomaso being the best brand to 'do a Lambo' for BMW.

  • Twoshoe 18 Sep 2012

    That green one looks lovely - is it a Mangusta?

  • Asterix 18 Sep 2012

    If they can do a modern version of this, a la Ford's GT40, then I'd be very happy - one of my all time favourites.

    And it has to sound like this.

    Edited by Asterix on Tuesday 18th September 10:55

  • 365daytonafan 18 Sep 2012

    I suspect BMW's interest is because they can pick up the brand relatively cheaply. There have long been rumours of a BMW supercar to rival the R8, a new Pantera to rival the Gallardo, 458 and Mclaren 12C can be spun off that, and perhaps sold through the existing Rolls Royce dealer network?

    While the De Tomaso brand is little known in the UK it does still have a following and recognition in the US.

  • Luca Brasi 18 Sep 2012

    Twoshoe said:
    That green one looks lovely - is it a Mangusta?
    It is indeed.

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