Having established himself as a serious automobile manufacturer with the Mangusta coupé, Alejandro De Tomaso commissioned Lamborghini designer Gianpaolo Dallara to produce the chassis for his new mid-engined supercar, the Pantera. Dallara opted for unitary construction for the steel chassis/body – abandoning the Mangusta’s backbone frame – and competition-specification double wishbone/coil-spring suspension all round. The Ford Motor Company was De Tomaso’s partner at the time of the Pantera’s introduction in 1971 and thus the Pantera, like the Mangusta, relied on Ford V8 power. Mated to an all-synchro ZF five-speed transaxle, the 5.8-litre Cleveland engine varied in output depending on the destination market, and in European trim came with 330bhp on tap, enabling the Pantera to complete the 0-60mph sprint in a little over 5 seconds and touch 160mph flat out.
Styled by Tom Tjaarda at Carrozzeria Ghia, the stunning coupé body was in fact built by Vignale, both companies being part of De Tomaso’s empire in the early 1970’s. De Tomaso’s longstanding relationship with the Ford Motor Company led to an arrangement whereby the Pantera was distributed through select Lincoln-Mercury dealerships in the USA, where a lower compression, 248bhp Cleveland motor (meeting stricter emissions regulations) was introduced for 1972. The 1974 energy crisis led to a parting of the ways between Ford and De Tomaso, who continued to sell the Pantera in Europe.
Exceptionally long-lived for a supercar, the Pantera was still around in the 1990’s having undergone a series of upgrades. The first of these had appeared on the Lusso (luxury) ‘L’ model of 1972, which featured ‘impact resistant’ bumpers and improved cooling and air conditioning systems. Flared wheel arches distinguished the GTS model of 1974, which in European trim came with a 350bhp engine, larger wheels/tyres and other performance enhancements. Introduced at approximately the same time was the GT/4, a development of the Group 4 competition cars of 1972/73.
This low mileage Pantera in GTS specification served for years as the demonstrator car of the Californian importer of De Tomaso cars. In view of this, the car was equipped with the best specification available and having been a showpiece of various fairs. It was regularly transported in a truck, meaning the modest mileage it has covered to this day is only 16,228.
During a no expense spared full restoration, the 5 litre V8 engine was fitted with a big Holley carburettor and upgraded. The car is also equipped with a bigger cooling system and bigger brakes. The interior has been re-trimmed and Ford Motorsport seats are supplied.
This wonderful Pantera is now ready to go, a mint super sports car with a pedigree and nothing for the faint hearted.