Pantera was a sports car produced by the De
Tomaso car company of Italy from 1971 to 1991.
In fact the last car was delivered to a customer in 1992. 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 a Ford 351 in3 (5.8 L) V8 which produced 330 hp (246 kW). The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta was also 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 1970s.
Rust-proofing was minimal on these
early cars, and the quality of fit
and finish was poor, with large
amounts of lead being used to cover
body panel flaws.
Notably, Elvis Presley once fired a gun at his Pantera after it wouldn't start.
Several modifications were made for the 1972 model year Panteras. A new 4-bolt main Cleveland Engine, also 351 in3, 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 and AmeriSport. In all, about 7,200 Panteras were built.
- Engine: 351 in3 Cleveland (5.8 L) 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)
- Brakes: Front 332 x 32 Ventilated and Cross-Drilled; Rear: 314 x 28 Ventilated