Italian Style at its Very Best
Apparently, Elvis Presley shot his Pantera on multiple occasions when it wouldn't start!
Finally, I've gotten round to writing another article! This has been weeks or even a month in the making as I haven't been able to find time to be on Drivetribe all that much, I'm going to try and be more active on here now. Anyway, enough of that, here it is...
The 1970's, the era that was known for the rise in popularity of disco and the wedge-shaped styling on some of the world's best-loved supercars. Cars like the Countach, the BMW M1, Lancia Stratos and of course, who could forget the De Tomaso Pantera.
The chances are that nowadays when you ask somebody to think of an iconic supercar from the 70's they will probably say the Lamborghini Countach however, at the time, the De Tomaso Pantera was seen as the ideal grand tourer with plenty of style, speed and quite a reasonable price tag. A price that in 1971 was around $10,200~ (£7,600) which was near enough half the price of any Ferrari or Maserati at the time. However, early examples of the Pantera appeared to be hugely unreliable but they did prove to be quite enduring, lasting no less than 25 years. Not bad then for a relatively new Italian carmaker.
Alejandro De Tomaso was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1928 and, in 1955 he moved to Italy and started a career as a racing driver for Maserati where he participated in 4 Formula 1 Grand Prix races. Later, in 1959, he founded the De Tomaso car company in Modena which was, originally, created to build prototypes and racing cars. The company then turned to making high-performance sports cars such as the Pantera of 1970.
𝙉𝙤𝙬 𝙞𝙩'𝙨 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙬𝙝𝙤𝙡𝙚 𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙨𝙤𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙘𝙖𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙘𝙡𝙚 (𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙗𝙖𝙗𝙡𝙮)... 𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙮𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙜!
By the 1970s De Tomaso had acquired the Vignale and Ghia styling houses, both quite well know at the time. Ghia had designed many cars for Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia and they had their name on the back of many Ford models such as the Orion Ghia (a car that I remember because of my dad crashing one), the Escort Ghia and the VW Karman Ghia. Vignale also designed many cars for Italian manufactures like Ferrari, Fiat and Maserati, such as the Ferrari 212 Vignale Coupé and the Maserati 3500 GT Spyder.
On the surface, the mid-engined Italian sports car looked quite impressive, having been styled by American-born Tom Tjaarda who joined Ghia in 1958 and had also styled many other famous cars such as the Fiat 124 Spider, the Ferrari 330 GT 2+2, the Shelby Series 2 etc. It's no wonder why De Tomaso turned to him after looking at a CV like that. The job of engineering was given to Giampaolo Dallara who previously had the responsibility for the highly praised Lamborghini Miura. Again, probably the perfect man for the job.
On to the name, Pantera, it means panther in Italian which is probably the perfect animal to compare this car too. In my mind, if panthers suddenly turned into cars, they would become the De Tomaso Pantera, fast, agile and very distinguishable.
However, over the Atlantic in America, the Pantera was troubled with huge reliability problems that were left largely unresolved and as a result, Ford cut its losses in 1973 but still kept the Ghia name and business. That year a more powerful version of the Pantera was released named the GTS. It boasted a 350bhp V8 engine that propelled the car to a top speed of 175mph(282km/h) and a 0-60 time of 5.6 seconds for the US market.
Pantera GTS with the very popular, optional extra rear wing.
With the departure of Ford, De Tomaso moved to a smaller base in Modena and was not able to build as many cars with a smaller amount of Panteras being built in the following 20 years and with not much change to the car until 1991 when it was given a modest facelift and a new 4.9L V8 instead of the earlier 5.7L engine.
The De Tomaso Pantera continued to be manufactured until, in 1992, it was finally put out of production and the new Guara replaced it. The Pantera achieved a 21 year production run which for a supercar is a long time and in that period around 7,260 were built, all with a mid-mounted V8 engine and a 5-speed manual gearbox with rear-wheel drive...of course!