Iconic Italian car manufacturer De Tomaso announces The Paradigm Thread

The unique digital initiative is disrupting traditional automotive design

You’d be forgiven for not having heard of De Tomaso already. When the newly reformed company unveiled its P72 supercar at 2019’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, there were more than a few curious whispers among the crowd. While it may have been a debut on all counts for many, the Italian manufacturer has graced us with some truly legendary automotives over the course of its rich 60-year history — and they’re making a grand return.

Founded in Modena in 1959 by Argentine-born racing driver and businessman Alejandro de Tomaso, the company has veered in and out of the spotlight over the years; but has counted among its collaborators some of the most visionary designers in automotive history, including Giorgetto Giugiaro, Tom Tjaarda, Marcello Gandini, and Peter Brock.

It was the mastery of Giugiaro’s design work behind the iconic Mangusta — ‘mongoose’ — first introduced in 1966: an unmissable, classic design, owing its name to a feud between de Tomaso and Carroll Shelby, Texan creator of the acclaimed AC Cobra — not-so-coincidentally, a mere meal for a mongoose. 

With models from the ’70s like the Pantera and Mangusta now rare, sought-after classics; the debut of the limited-run P72 was a highly anticipated first step back into the industry. Now, De Tomaso is looking to re-envision the boundaries of the traditional design process altogether; embracing the age of digital technology and incorporating it into an age-old craft. 

This week, the company launched an intriguing first look into their new digital initiative, ‘THE PARADIGM THREAD’; with renowned Californian digital artist Ash Thorp joining their in-house team. The short film — titled ‘Parte I: the convergence of worlds’ — remains relatively mysterious, teasing moments of CGI-rendered frames, while walking us through some of the thought process behind this collaboration, led by De Tomaso’s CEO, Ryan Berris; chairman, Norman Choi; and the prodigy himself, Ash Thorp. 

In a revolutionary shift that will see De Tomaso “embrace the future” and the “coalescence of digital and physical realms”, Ash will take the helm of the design process guided by Ryan and Norman, producing digital artworks and prototypes from which future physical models can be manufactured. When we talk of legacies in the industry, too often they are framed in what has already passed — rather than in their future potential. This next chapter for De Tomaso adds an exciting layer to an already rich history; taking them boldly into a new generation of design. 

In the short clip, ‘Parte I’, Ash Thorp says, “Being a part of making a fully-fledged vehicle that can be driven and enjoyed — part of it is honestly a little bit frightening.” He explains, “Cars that I’ve built and shared with the world in a digital format is literally the way that I would modify the cars in reality. It’s all the things that I love; it’s such a rich world — there’s engineering and science and technology, art and sculpture and design.”

Ryan Berris, CEO of De Tomaso, has commented, “It’s a very surreal moment for all of us. It’s a moment in time, and the team that we’re building, everyone can feel it…There are no words, but I do know that what we’re going to be achieving as a team is going to be something that we hope will be revered for decades.”

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