The Pantera, Italian for 'Panther', was a mid engineered sports car produced by the De Tomosa car company of Italy from 1971-91. The car was designed by the Italian design firm 'Ghia' and replaced the De Tomosa Mangusta but unlike the Mangusta, which employed a steel chassis, the Pantera was a steel monocoque design, the first instance of De Tomaso using this construction technique. The Pantera logo included a version of Argentina's flag turned on its side with a T-shaped symbol, reportedly the symbol was designed by Alejandro De Tomaso himself, in a nod to the automaker founder's cattle ranchers ancestors as he was born and raised in Argentina. He had emigrated in his 20s to Italy in order to avoid political persecution from Juan Domingo Peron, president of Argentina in those days.
The car made its public debut in Modena in March 1970 and approximately a year later the first production Panteras were sold and production was increased to three per day. The curious slat-backed seats which had attracted comment at the Modena Show were replaced by more conventional body-hugging sports-car seats in the production cars: leg-room was generous but the pedals were off-set and headroom was tight for drivers over 6 ft tall. Reflecting its makers' transatlantic ambitions, the Pantera came with an abundance of standard features which appeared exotic in Europe, such as electric windows and air conditioning. The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta was also used for the Pantera. Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering were all standard equipment on the Pantera and the 1971 Pantera could accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds according to Car & Driver magazine.
Late in 1971, Ford began importing Panteras for the American market to be sold through its Lincoln/Mercury dealers. The first 75 cars were simply European imports and are known for their 'push-button' door handles and hand-built 'Vignale' bodies. A total of only 1,007 Panteras reached the United States that first year. As with most Italian cars of the day, rust-proofing was minimal and the quality of fit and finish on those early models was poor with large amounts of body solder being used to cover body panel flaws. Subsequently Ford increased their involvement in the production of the later cars with the introduction of precision stampings for body panels which resulted in a significant improvement in overall quality.
Several modifications were made for the 1972 model year Panteras. Most significantly, a new 4 bolt main 'Cleveland' engine, also with 351 cu in, was introduced with a lower compression ratio but with the more aggressive and legendary 'Cobra Jet' camshaft (featuring the same lift and duration as the 428 Cobra Jet's factory performance cam) in an effort to reclaim some of the power lost through the reduction in compression along with a dual point distributor. Many other important engine changes were made, including the use of a factory exhaust header.
The 'Lusso' (Luxury) Pantera L was also introduced in August 1972 as a 1972½ model. For the US market it featured a large black single front bumper that incorporated a built-in airfoil to reduce front end lift at high speeds, rather than the separate bumperettes still used abroad, as well as a 266 HP Cleveland engine. The 'L' model featured many factory upgrades and updates that fixed most of the problems and issues the earlier cars had experienced. It was so improved that the 1973 De Tomaso Pantera was named Road Test Magazine’s 'Import car of the Year', beating out Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Porsche! During 1973 the dash was changed, going from two separate pods for the gauges to a unified unit with the dials angled towards the driver. The U.S. version 1974 Pantera GTS featured GTS badging but not the higher compression, solid lifter engine of its European GTS "cousin".
Selling your De Tomosa Pantera or want a valuation?
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