The Bertone Mantide Is An American Icon Clothed In The Finest Italian Suit
‘There can be only one’, a phrase often uttered from the gritted teeth of combatants in the Highlander films and one that also fits the Bertone Mantide rather well.
Aside from it looking a bit like the automotive equivalent of a Scottish Longsword it too is a one of one vehicle. Created by designer Jason Castriota and built by Italian coachbuilder Stile Bertone, Project M—as it was initially called—is still a mesmerizing mix of bold lines and angles that give it a menacing aura even 10 years on.
The visual onslaught quickly becomes an aural one once you turn the ignition key, for beneath that transparent hood beats the supercharged V8 heart of a 2009 Corvette ZR1. The 6.2-liter LS9 lump produces 638 hp and 595 lb-ft of torque, still competitive figures amongst today’s crop of overpowered supercars, yet unlike those digital and sometimes anodyne machines, the Mantide’s six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel-drive layout mean that skill and bravery are required to extract the best from it.
Bertone initially intended to produce 10 of these cars but just one was eventually built, which was revealed at the 2009 Shanghai Auto Show as a test model before making its way to the US later that year in its finished state. While it may have used much of the Corvette’s mechanicals, the Mantide was far from just a reclothed ZR1; it was also designed to be more aerodynamically efficient and, aside from having 25-percent less drag, it also made 30-percent more downforce than the Corvette. Thanks to the liberal use of lightweight material both inside and out, the curb weight was down by over 200 pounds compared to the donor car as well.
Bertone claimed that it was capable of a 3.2-second 0-62mph time and a 218mph top end, both bettering the ZR1’s already impressive figures and putting it amongst the quickest road cars ever built. In many ways it is still the ultimate usable supercar. The Corvette underpinnings give it the power and easy temperament of an American muscle car while that gorgeous Italian body ensures that it won’t look out of place even at the swankiest of events.
The newly-finished car was put through a baptism of fire as soon as it arrived in the US, being driven in convoy with a Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and the inimitable McLaren F1 to the Pebble Beach Concours. Aside from arriving to the party a bit late thanks to a paperwork mix-up at the port in New Jersey, the Mantide didn’t put a wheel wrong and it performed like a true thoroughbred along the route, often keeping the F1 honest along the way thanks to its immense supercharged shove.
It has since undergone a color change from its original red hue to Bianco Fuji and the interior has been retrimmed in red and black Alcantara. Mechanically it remains unchanged and only the audio system has been upgraded, although why you would ever want to turn it on is a mystery. Having been in storage for a number of years this fascinating piece of automotive art is now available for sale at Autosport Designs. Considering its towering performance, beautiful styling and the fact that you will never see one coming the other way, we think that the $595,000 asking price seems to be missing a digit or two.
Images courtesy of Autosport Designs