Over the past couple of years, many wealthy enthusiasts, collectors and investors have spent about a million dollars on a high-end gasoline-electric supercar like the Porsche 918 Spyder, the Ferrari LaFerrari and the McLaren P1. If they’d waited a little, they could have purchased an entire car company (including a factory) for the same amount of money.
This weekend, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that a group of Chinese investors has purchased DeTomaso for €1,050,000, a sum that converts to approximately $1.1 million. Called Consolidated Ideal TeamVenture, the group is registered in the Virgin Islands but its physical headquarters are located somewhere in Hong Kong.
Consolidated Ideal TeamVenture released a short statement that explains it aims to build DeTomaso-badged cars in China and sell them exclusively on the crowded local market. Further details were not announced, but it goes without saying that the future looks grim for the 800 DeTomaso employees based in Grugliasco, outside of Turin, and the 100 workers located in Livorno. What will happen to the factory in Grugliasco is up in the air.
The news has caused outrage in Italy. Some have lambasted the government and the courts for selling DeTomaso to the lowest bidder, while politicians say that DeTomaso found itself in dire financial straits because it was poorly managed for years. Notably, when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2012, a judge pointed out that DeTomaso received nearly €5 million (about $6 million at the time) in aid from the government but it didn’t manage to launch the production version of the Deauville concept (pictured below), a BMW 5 Series GT-esque hatchback presented at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, let alone start building it.
Ironically, the close-to-production Deauville concept was one of DeTomaso’s most valuable assets and the company ended up selling the rights to it to a Chinese company for €12 million (roughly $14 million in 2012).
Last month, DeTomaso was auctioned off by an Italian bankruptcy judge and purchased for about €2 million by a Swiss company called L3 Holdings. Admittedly ambitious, the company’s business plan indicated that it wanted to return DeTomaso to its former glory by moving its headquarters to a different location in Turin and launching a mid-engined sports car, most likely a heir to the iconic Pantera. Under L3’s plan, the bulk of the company’s furloughed work force would have been put back to work or given a new job.
L3 outbid Consolidated Ideal TeamVenture and an Italian firm called Eos but it failed to come up with two million euros in time. The deal was consequently canceled, which explains why DeTomaso was put on the auction block once again.