Alejandro De Tomaso came over to Europe from Argentina in 1955 to try his hand as a race car driver. His racing success was moderate. While he was in Italy he met and married Elizabeth Haskell, and they raced Maserati and Osca cars in Italy as well as the Americas. De Tomaso tried his hand at making cars, most of them being one offs and prototypes until he came up with the Vallelunga coupe of 1963 with Ford Corsair engine, using his now trademark aluminium backbone chassis. The Vallelinga bodywork was designed by the then little known Guigaro. The Mangusta that followed in 1966 was an enlarged version of this Vallelunga, but powered by a Ford V8. Finance in De Tomaso Modena SpA was provided by Tomasos brother in law and by 1971 took on majority Ford ownership with the remaining shares with De Tomaso himself. This was all around the same time as the Pantera replaced the Mangusta and sold in the thousands. Most fortunate for DeTomaso, Ford bought out all his shares in the company and took over control just as the Fuel crisis took hold and everything ground to a halt. But De Tomaso himself had been given the rights to sell in Europe and the cars were hand built on a small scale.
As a post script, De Tomaso took over Maserati in a partnership with the Italian Government, to keep it going after Citroen went into liquidation and taken over by Peugeot. It was under DeTomaso that the Kaylami (built around the previous DeTomaso Longchamp), Biturbo, Quattroporte , Ghibli and Shamal were built. De Tomaso also took over Innocenti, who became useful for supplying components to these projects.