The one-off Bertone Mantide is a car that can cause mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is extremely cool that the Italian Styling House responsible for some of the most beautiful (Lamborghini Miura), outrageous (Lamborghini Countach and Diablo), and successful (three-time World Rally Championship winning Lancia Stratos) vehicles ever produced would base one of their works on the humble C6 Corvette ZR1. On the other hand, people blessed with two functional eyes would be excused for thinking that it might have been better if Bertone left this poor ZR1 alone.
Luckily the polarizing looks are only skin-deep and the upgrades create results that are nothing short of astounding. “Cutting edge” aerodynamic touches cause a 25% reduction in drag accompanied by a 30% improvement in downforce compared to a stock ZR1. A carbon fiber body, wheels, interior trim, and seats help drop weight by more than 220 pounds. These modifications, along with increased rigidity provided by a triangulated roll cage (FIA approved!), allow the Bertone to reach a maximum velocity of 217 MPH and hit 60 in just 3.2 seconds. The original press release for the car says all of the right things too; of particular interest to our readers is the part where Bertone says “the ZR1 is the greatest all-round performance car in the world” to which we would have had to say Amen, brothers (in Italian)!
The Mantide has also completed quite the automotive bucket list as its 10,000 miles have been rolled around the globe doing events and collecting awards. Bertone originally had ambitions of doing a limited run of 10 ZR1-based cars but this ended up being the one and only example. It made its debut at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2009. Then immediately got shipped to the Nardo Facility in Italy where it was tested and certified as a road car. Then it was run up the hill during the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, England before being air-freighted to the land of the free and the home of the brave where the current listing dealership, Autosport Designs, Inc. completed the original delivery. From there it joined a procession of exotics that were driven non-stop across the country to Pebble Beach for Monterey Car Week 2009 where it was shown on the concept lawn during the Concours d’Elegance. This whole trip was chronicled by and featured in Automobile Magazine. Next, back on the East coast, it was repainted in the current Bianco Fuji (a stunning shade of pearl white from Ferrari’s palette) instead of the original red. It returned to Monterey Car Week a year later where it won first place in the Super Car Class at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering.
Even though the Mantide looks like it just drove off of the set of a futuristic ’80’s B-movie where it was piloted by Kurt Russell (most likely while wearing an eyepatch, he loves eyepatches!), it doesn’t care what any of us typical Corvette devotees think about its appearance. It has been around the planet and proven itself time and again; and at a reported price of $695,000, we aren’t even on its wavelength. It will most likely join the collection of an eccentric billionaire where it will be joined by other eclectic oddities, concepts, and one of ones. We just hope that it resurfaces every once in a while, to remind us of a time when design houses like Pininfarina and its Maverick (always second best out there), Bertone ran wild to create completely unique projects that you just don’t see in an increasingly normalized automotive space.