The Mangusta replaced the Vallelunga model, on which its chassis was based. The word “mangusta” is Italian for “mongoose”, an animal that can kill cobras. It was rumored that the car was so named because De Tomaso had some talks with Carroll Shelby to replace the Shelby Cobra with a racing car to be built in Italy by the Argentine-born De Tomaso (“De Tomaso Sport 5000” a.k.a. “De Tomaso P70”), but no deal was signed since Shelby became involved in the Ford GT40 racing program. Nevertheless, Alejandro de Tomaso and Carroll Shelby were friends and business is business, so it is also rumored that the first handful of engines for the Mangusta may have come from Shelby. The Mangusta was replaced by the much cheaper-to-build De Tomaso Pantera in 1971.