The Pantera May Be Reborn
Being a teenager in the 1970s, and like most teenage boys, I was captivated with the muscle cars of that era — Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, just to name a few. But one vehicle that I actually dreamed of having was a Pantera. Most of the other boys wanted Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches, but not me. I went even as far as having a picture of the car hanging on my bedroom wall with the words â€śmy dream carâ€ť written in permanent marker on it. That photo has long since been trashed, but I still have a framed photo of a Pantera in my possession, maybe someday a real one in my driveway.
In 1971, Ford introduced the Pantera, an Italian-built sports car by De Tomaso Automobili that would compare to other exotic super cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini, but for less than half the price. The Italian company used Ford engines and in a partnership with Ford, planned on producing 5,000 Panteras a year. However, only 7,200 were actually built from 1971-1996, thus making the car rare as well as a collectorâ€™s item.
The style of the Pantera was inspired by the Lamborghini Miura. Its wedged-shaped body had a pointed nose with hide-away headlights, flared fender wells and an optional rear deck wing spoiler.
The engine used was a Ford 351 cubic-inch Cleveland V8 that was borrowed from the Mustang. The 1971-1974 models had 300 hp and 355 lb-ft of torque that allowed the car to turn in a six-second 0-60, and a 14-second quarter mile. Compared to todayâ€™s supercars, thatâ€™s slow, but back in the day, it was fast.
In 1975, Ford ended importing the Pantera with a total of around 5,500 vehicles sold. De Tomaso continued to build the car and eventually changed the engine to the Ford 302 cubic-inch, with the last ones producing around 500 hp. ()
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De Tomaso was purchased several years ago by a former Fiat CEO and the Pantera was once again in the production stages. Even a concept version was introduced in 2011 using a 600 hp engine from the Corvette, but it went down with the ship, so to speak, when the company was forced into bankruptcy, resulting from mismanagement of funds and legal issues. So, once again hopes of the rebirth of the Pantera dwindled away.
ATS Autosport recently announced that the purchase of the De Tomaso name could come in December this year and rumor also has it that the Pantera brand may be in the works for a revival.
If, in fact, ATS brings back the Pantera with all the new technological advancements in the automotive industry since the cars original release, what kind of performance numbers are we talking about? Top speeds close to 250 mph or more. Sub three-second 0-60 times, and 600 or more hp. But, until then, we will just have to wait with our fingers crossed.
Image Credit: TopSpeed.com