[DeTomaso] On writing a book on De Tomaso....
guson at home.se
Fri Dec 18 18:20:21 EST 2015
Thanks for the write up Mike. I guess it's always an adventure to deal with Italians, be you an Italian yourself or not! :-)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Drew via DeTomaso" <detomaso at poca.com>
To: <detomaso at POCA.com>
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 8:59 PM
Subject: [DeTomaso] On writing a book on De Tomaso....
Herewith, my thoughts on the trials and tribulations of producing a book on
More than a year ago, I got an e-mail out of the blue from Daniele Pozzi, a
college professor in Italy. He was committed to writing a book on De
Tomaso, focusing on the man and his life rather than on the cars. He had my
address (among numerous others) as a potential source of help and information.
I replied right away, but heard nothing back.
Six or eight months later, I was again contacted by Dr. Pozzi. This time
when I replied, I mentioned I had replied earlier and learned for some
reason he had never received that. He seemed quite excited when he learned of
my position as Profiles editor, and my ability to support him with images
We went back and forth, as he discussed his vision for the book. He
wanted to tell the whole story of De Tomaso (so he said) and end it with coverage
of how De Tomaso has touched the lives of thousands of people around the
world, and made it possible to forge lasting friendships through his cars.
Thus he was especially keen to get photos and information from club meetings
such as the POCA Fun Rally and the various European meetings.
It took me a few weeks, but I scoured my archives and, not wanting to leave
anything out, I gave him over 46,000 (!) individual images I'd collected
over the years. I did help by filtering them somewhat, and I put crucial
historical images whose value I thought was important in key folders, and
organized the others in various contexts (Fun Rally photos, Euro meeting photos,
individual car photos, people photos etc.). I burned them to USB sticks
and sent them to him. During this time, he had been peppering me with
questions, asking me to fact-check certain technical details (he appears to be
more of a historian than a traditional 'car guy'), etc.
The Italian postal service leaves more than a bit to be desired, and it
took almost two months (!) for the sticks to arrive. But in the meantime,
things had taken a bit of a turn.
It was never clear to me if Dr. Pozzi had the idea to write a book, and
then found a publisher to produce it, or if the publisher wanted to produce a
book, and found a guy to write it. But clearly their relationship was not
all that it could have been. Pozzi had a very clear image in his mind of
what he wanted his book to be--he wanted it to be positive and uplifting, and
a primary goal was to show the happiness that De Tomaso's works have
generated among many people like us.
The publisher had different ideas, and thought that was totally stupid.
They wanted a straight historical biography without all the happy kumbyah
stuff. There was a meeting in the publisher's office, and one can imagine
what an Italian business confrontation looks/sounds like. Lots of yelling and
arm-waving, and at the end of it, they took his manuscript and fired him
from the project!
My images arrived just after this all happened, so none of them were
incorporated into the book. (The only things he got from me that were included
in the book were photos of Dave Jacobsen's beautiful Pre-L Pantera, which was
a Profiles centerfold car--I had sent those to him earlier, and numerous
photos of that car are scattered throughout the book including on the cover,
and Dave is rightly given photo credit).
Shortly afterwards, you may recall that Ed Mendez was contacted by a US
publisher looking for some help in producing an English-language version of the
book, and he shared that info with us. Several of you expressed interest,
but I contacted the publisher directly and asked him WTF since I was
already deeply involved in the project?
The publisher immediately phoned me in surprise, as he had no knowledge.
It turns out that there was a big book fair in New York City, and the
Italian company had showed off an Italian-language mockup of the book, and was
seeking a US partner to produce an English-language version alongside of it.
Both editions would be printed at the same time in Italy. They assured
everyone that this was a turn-key, ready-for-print book that only needed
translation, so Dalton Books bought it.
This outfit is known for producing really, really, REALLY high-quality car
books--limited-edition leather bound box sets on the Rolls-Royce Silver
Ghost that sell for $1750, that kind of thing.
They hired an Italian-to-English translator to translate the text (one who
supposedly had a good grasp of both languages but didn't really know
automobiles specifically), and when that was done, they sent the text to me for
fact-checking and editing.
The translation left a lot to be desired; there was more than a little
flat-tire English, where it would be obvious that the writer didn't speak the
language fluently, and re-writing the factually correct text into proper,
flowing English was a big job. However, there were a LOT of factual and
technical errors, which took quite some time to sort through and correct. That
process alone probably took me 20-30 hours, as when I read something that I
believed to be wrong, I had to be able to prove it to them (and myself) so had
to do a lot of independent research. The Italian publisher got quite
annoyed, because I pointed out loads of technical and historical inaccuracies,
which needed to be corrected in the English language version, and then they
felt compelled to change those same errors in the Italian version.
(One example--Pozzi got it backwards and thought the Vallelunga prototypes
were made in fiberglass and the production cars were in aluminum, but we all
know that is demonstrably untrue; there are only three known aluminum
Fissore prototypes and all the Ghia cars, including the one De Tomaso owns today,
There were some 'facts' that I believed were incorrect, but I couldn't
prove it. I would then ask Pozzi to seek confirmation from his sources, as I
thought perhaps he had got a story turned around or something? But by this
time, he had lost all interest in cooperating with the project that had been
taken away from him, and although he was very polite and friendly to me, he
basically said he was too busy to devote any more time to it, and told the
Italian publishers to take a flying leap….
More disturbing to me, however, is that the book ended very prematurely in
the story. Most people know that De Tomaso suffered a terrible stroke in
1993. It left him permanently paralyzed and unable to speak, but his brain
was completely unaffected. He then entered into an absolutely heroic
period of intensive rehab, determined to conquer his condition. He gradually
improved somewhat, and was able to communicate in a very guttural manner,
which only a handful of people were able to understand.
Even at that, he successfully negotiated the sale of his 51% ownership of
Maserati to Ferrari for many millions of Euros, then launched the De Tomaso
Bigua, which then evolved into a joint venture with Qvale, and then blew up
spectacularly. Even as that was crashing to earth, he was involved with a
grand scheme with backing of the Italian government to import sturdy, simple
Russian 4x4 SUVs in KDC (knocked-down kit) form; the trucks would arrive as
1:1 scale kits, and would be assembled in a new purpose-built factory in the
economically depressed south of Italy, and would be powered by a
Belgian-made diesel engine sourced from a partnership with Chrysler. This was a VERY
complicated deal with a lot of moving parts.
The profits from this enterprise would then be funneled to De Tomaso
Automobili, who would use them to produce a new Vallelunga (Porsche
Boxter-competitor, likely powered by a Saab turbo motor), and ultimately a new Pantera.
Unfortunately, that whole deal blew up too, after De Tomaso had accepted a
huge pile of Euros from the Italian government. When the plug got pulled
and he was unable to pay it back, De Tomaso went into liquidation, then the
brand was sold, and more Italian economic soap opera took place for a few
years afterwards, with the family not involved.
Anyway, even though both the Qvale and SUV deals fell apart, they were VERY
ambitious projects, and were not merely vaporware--real cars were produced
in both cases. This was a very significant and tragic end to the story of
De Tomaso, both the man and the corporation--and it was completely absent
from the book.
When I read it and found this out, I sent a strong WTFO note to both
English and Italian publishers and the author? Pozzi then confessed that when
the project first started. Isabelle and Santiago promised full cooperation
(without which the book would have been more or less impossible) under the
condition that Pozzi agree to conceal the truth about anything that happened
What kind of historian or journalist would agree to such terms? In any
case, that's the deal Pozzi made, so all talk of those later failed ventures
was eliminated. I find it especially pathetic, because if you are really
interested in the MAN, it is something the family should be proud of. But
instead, they are ashamed of the fact that the ventures failed and want to
whitewash history and pretend they never happened.
So the text in the book more or less indicates that he had a stroke in
1993, then sat around in a poopy diaper, drooling on himself until he died in
2003. To me, THAT is pathetic, but that's how they wanted the story told.
Charlie and I know for a fact that's not true, because when we met him in
2001, he was absolutely FEROCIOUS, animated, loud, arrogant, and full of piss
and vinegar. Although I happened to feel that he was a complete jerk (as
did seemingly everybody else who knew him), he was far from the vegetable the
book makes him out to be.
So, with all that said, when the book arrived the other day, I was
absolutely blown away at the high quality of the resultant effort. The book is
considerably larger than I was expecting (it's 13x11 inches) and the
photography is simply stunning. There are beautiful photo spreads of most of the
cars in the De Tomaso family collection (although since they don't have a GT5
or GT5-S, those are absent, and apparently their Pantera Si broke down and
they didn't want to bother towing it to be photographed so it's absent too).
There are historical photos directly from De Tomaso's family archives that
have never been seen before, and will never be seen anywhere else.
And there's the story. Given their well-established propensity for
shading the truth, one has to wonder exactly how accurate it all is, but I'm
willing to give them the benefit of the doubt about their telling of their early
history at least. It's certainly educational (I learned a lot!) and
So at the end of the day, even with all the caveats and asterisks, this is
far and away the best De Tomaso book ever made, and if you have even a
passing interest in the marque, you owe it to yourself to get a copy!
P.S. It's worth noting that purely by coincidence, another Italian-market
book on De Tomaso has just been printed; it was released on September 30th.
It's in Italian only and seems to be a much more modest effort (208
pages, paperback?). I've only seen pictures of the book, but the few pages I
saw revealed images I'd never seen elsewhere, so that might be worth digging
up as well if you're really a nut about this stuff….
Here it is on the publisher's website:
Not available on Amazon USA, but it is available on Amazon Italia:
and from numerous other European retailers as well….
> Detomaso Forum Managed by POCA
> Posted emails must not exceed 1.5 Megabytes
> DeTomaso mailing list
> DeTomaso at poca.com
> To manage your subscription (change email address, unsubscribe, etc.) use the links above.
More information about the DeTomaso