De Tomaso Pantera

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De Tomaso Pantera at Wheels of Italy

The Pantera was a sports car produced by the de Tomaso car company of Italy from 1971 through 1996. The word "Pantera" is Italian for "Panther". The car was designed by Tom Tjaarda and replaced the de Tomaso Mangusta. Unlike the Mangusta, which employed a steel backbone chassis, the Pantera was a steel monocoque design, the first instance of de Tomaso using this construction technique.


The first 1971 Panteras were powered by 351 in³ (5.8 L) Ford Cleveland V8 which produced 330 hp (246 kW). The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta and Ford GT40 was used for the Pantera. Another Italian exotic that shares the ZF transaxle is the Maserati Bora. Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering were standard equipment. The 1971 Pantera could accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds according to Car and Driver.

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 Carrozzeria Vignale bodies. A total of 1,007 Panteras reached the United States that first year. Unfortunately, these cars were poorly built, and several Panteras broke down during testing on Ford's own test track. Early crash testing at UCLA showed that safety cage engineering was not very well understood in the 1970's. Rust-proofing was non-existent in the early 1970s (not only on the Pantera) and the quality of fit and finish was poor, with large amounts of bondo being used to cover body panel flaws. Notably, Elvis Presley once fired a gun at his Pantera after it wouldn't start.

1972 De Tomaso Pantera Interior

Several modifications were made for the 1972 model year Panteras. A new 4-bolt main Cleveland engine was used with lower compression (from 11:1 to 8.6:1, chiefly to meet US emissions standards and run on lower octane standard fuel) but with more aggressive camshaft timing (in an effort to reclaim some of the power lost through the reduction in compression). Many other engine changes were made, including the use of a factory exhaust header.

The "Lusso" (luxury) Pantera L was also introduced in 1972. It featured large black bumpers for the US market as well as a 248 hp (185 kW) Cleveland engine. The 1974 Pantera GTS featured yet more luxury items and badging.

Ford ended their importation to the U.S. in 1975, having sold roughly 5,500 cars in the United States. De Tomaso continued to build the car, however, in ever-escalating forms of performance and luxury for more than a decade. A small number of Panteras were imported to the US by gray market importers in the 1980s, notably Panteramerica. In all, about 7,200 Panteras were built.

De Tomaso Pantera at Wheels of Italy


1971 specifications:

  • Engine: Ford 351 in³ (5.8 L) Cleveland V8
  • Power: 330 hp (246 kW)
  • Curb weight: 3123 lb (1417 kg)
  • Wheelbase: 98.4 in (2500 mm)
  • Front track: 57.0 in (1448 mm)
  • Rear track: 58.0 in (1473 mm)
  • Length: 158.0 in (4013 mm)
  • Width: 67.0 in (1702 mm)
  • Height: 43.4 in (1102 mm)

1974 De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Modena S.p.A. car timeline, 1960s–2010s
Type 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
RMR Vallelunga Mangusta Pantera Guarà
FR Sedan
FR Coupé
Longchamp Biguà