Oddball: De Tomaso Guara
An edgy, Italian sports car is probably not what you expected to find from Performance BMW magazine, but hold up – this one has a difference, in the form of numerous BMW parts being used throughout its construction.
Alejandro de Tomaso had a tricky decision to make when his best-known creation, the iconic (if a little imperfect) Ford-engined Pantera was nearing the end of its 20-years of production. It needed replacing, but what with? As he held a majority stake in Maserati he was all too familiar with the goings-on inside their development centre, and when the chassis from the stillborn Barchetta became available, he snapped it up as a base for his new car – the Guara.
Production began in 1993 – the composite panels hid a track-biased chassis, while at its heart is the venerable M60 4.0-litre V8, linked to a straight-cut six-speed Audi gearbox. The interior was a BMW parts-bin special, with much of the switchgear and clocks having been lifted straight from the E34, with the odd Fiat and Ford part thrown in for good taste.
The Maserati Barchetta it was based on was designed to be a track weapon – its suspension wasn’t exactly designed for comfortable road use. That and the fact the engine is placed right behind your head meant that refined wasn’t really a term that could be used – and that’s before you mention the unbearable transmission whine from that straight cut gearbox.
Despite all that, the chassis proved to be engaging, with nice direct steering feel. Gear changes were also a joy and all-in-all, it proved to be a thoroughly good steer. The 286hp BMW engine was also enough to propel the 1200kg Guara to 62mph in just 5 seconds and on to a top speed of 168mph. Unfortunately the BMW relationship ended in ’98 as a Ford 4.6-litre V8 was used from then on, bringing with it a hefty 200kg of added weight to the model until it ended production in 2004. It’s proved to be an under-rated classic, but don’t expect to find one easily.
1993-1998 De Tomaso Guara
Engine: BMW M60 4.0-litre V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual
How many? Approx. 50 (inc later cars)
What is it: Italian sports car
Words: Ben Koflach