Join The World's Best Iconic & Vintage Car Community >>
Photo: Pete Austin
Jonathan Williams
Jonathan Williams

Alessandro (Alejandro) De Tomaso was born in Buenos Aires into an influential political family. He became a racing driver, but left Argentina in a hurry after being involved in a plot to remove the then president, Juan Peron. He relocated to Modena where he continued racing for Osca, Maserati and Scuderia Centro Sud, before retiring and founding De Tomaso Automobili located on the Via Emilia, with the intention of building racing and road cars.

I was first aware of him in 1964 when I was racing in Formula Three in Italy, and saw his beautifully engineered and unconventional cars driven by Franco Bernabei and Mario Casoni, often with success. He had an unfortunate love of casting things in magnesium which, once on fire, burns with terrifying ferocity. He built an Indycar for Texan millionaire John Mecom’s Rosebud racing team that wasn’t a success. It ended up on the patio of the Texas ranch, filled with earth and with flowers growing in it. Mecom said he had finally found a use for it. In 1967, when I was at Ferrari, I got to know Alessandro well, and we became friends. Several times a week we would eat together at Cantoni’s restaurant, across from the Palace hotel where he lived with his American wife, the heiress Isabelle Haskell. He told me, quite correctly as it turned out, that I had made a big mistake joining Ferrari as the F2 Dino would never match up to the Cosworth-powered cars.

Become a Member & Get Ad-Free Access To This Article (& About 6,000+ More)

Access to the full article is limited to paid subscribers only. Our membership removes most ads, lets you enjoy unlimited access to all our premium content, and offers you awesome discounts on partner products. Enjoy our premium content.

Become a member today!

Already a Member?