1974 DE TOMASO PANTERA LView vehicle description
Every petrolhead worthy of the name has a soft spot for the De Tomaso Pantera. It is, after all, a mid-engined Italian supercar with a Detroit heart and an Italian soul – and if you can think of a better combination for your supercar then we’re happy to listen.
While us Brits favoured bruisers from folk like Aston Martin and Jensen, the Yanks were over the moon to be able to buy something that looked exotic yet had honest-to-God ‘Merican underpinnings. Never known as a nation of shrinking violets, the Pantera’s exhaust note could summon Beelzebub himself and, in those pre-Viagra times, perhaps other things, too…
Designed by Tom Tjaarda and the result of a marriage between Alejandro de Tomaso and the Ford Motor Company, the Pantera replaced the Mangusta. Whereas the earlier car had a separate steel chassis, the Pantera had a more modern steel monocoque instead, which made it both lighter and stiffer than the car it replaced. While interior headroom is limited, its huge central backbone allowed for low-cut sills and large door openings, which meant that getting in and out of it is easier than in many of its rivals.
It was such a successful design that the Pantera ended up having a twenty-two year production run. Born in 1971, it finally bit the bullet in 1993, a production span it straddled better than you might imagine; its Ferrari-esque looks hid a remarkably reliable car and its 160mph top speed and stellar acceleration compensated for the shortcomings the sort of folk who bought them new were prone to.
Aside from its jaw-dropping looks and knicker-dropping performance, the key to its success was a beautifully balanced chassis paired with bulletproof mechanicals. Starting life under the bonnet of cars like the Mustang and Torino, the 5.8-litre Ford ‘Cleveland’ V8 engine produced 330bhp, 10bhp more than that of the Ford cars thanks to shorter exhaust headers.
It fed its considerable power and torque to the rear wheels via a five-speed ZF transaxle from Germany, a shrewd move that offered even more reliability. Discs brakes at each corner helped curb its prodigious performance should the owner start to run out of talent, something that was almost inevitable thanks to the Pantera’s habit of oversteering violently if the driver backed off the throttle mid-corner.
The model was extensively revamped in 1980, when it gained a more aggressive look thanks to wider wheel arches. The braking system was also modified, as was the interior. The engine changed to a Ford 351 ‘Windsor’ in 1988, which raised to top speed to around 174mph, and it gained the Ford 302 engine in 1990.
With only 34,000 miles under its belt and in amazingly original condition, this incredible Pantera benefits from much recent expenditure, including an overhaul of the car’s suspension and braking system.
The owner purchased it a year ago from an American classic car dealer who was selling it on behalf of a church, who had had it donated to them. He had it fettled in the USA and drove it over there for a while before importing it into the United Kingdom.
It is road-registered here, has a UK V5 registration document, and having completed a few sensible upgrades, the vendor has been using it around London and beyond. It is on-the-button and ready for more adventures. Please note it doesn’t come with the registration number you see in the photos and will have a DVLA-issued age-appropriate number instead.
On the Outside
The very of-the-period orange coachwork is in a very good condition, with good panel gaps and ripple-free flanks. This is at least partly due to an older respray in its original colour while it was still Stateside;, the owner tells us that “there are no signs of rust, dings or scratches anywhere”. As you can see from the photographs, this is not hyperbole although there is the odd minor chip here and there, plus the odd edge where the paint appears to have been rubbed away from over-enthusiastic polishing. Looking over the car, the respray does appear to be the only works that have happened on the body, it all seems very original.
The black front and rear Federal bumpers are in good shape, although the low-hanging deep front spoiler/splitter, which the owner added to help prevent the Pantera’s infamous high-speed lift, has lived up to its name and split/cracked so will need repairing or replacing.
The pop-up headlights have been changed to the later rectangular ones but they do work, which is never a given and indicative of the care with which the car has been maintained over the years. If originality is important to the new owner, then changing them back to the (supplied) original units would be fairly straightforward.
The badging and lights clusters are in good shape, as is the small amount of chrome. The aerial isn’t original and is for show only. It is only stuck on with 3M tape, so could be removed without marking the paintwork and no holes have been drilled. The only iron-oxide we can find is a small amount on the drivers door hinge panel, by the interior light plunger and photographed in the Gallery.
The original 8x15 Campagnolo alloy wheels are in good shape. They’re shod with matching Cooper Cobra tyres, 275/60R15 on the back and 215/65R15 on the front, all of which still have good tread as they are new.
As we will never tire of explaining, our experience shows that matching high-quality tyres are an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly. Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but do give you a shortcut into their attitude towards maintenance.
On the Inside
The black vinyl seats are in great shape and look almost like new. The owner is clearly a man with an eye to the future because he had them removed and the floor rust-proofed followed by the installation of fresh sound-deadening and heat insulation to help keep cockpit noise and temperatures down. Please see the photos of this work being carried out.
The De Tomaso-branded Veglia speedometer and rev counter, with their black face and distinctive green lettering, are present and correct and supported by four angled smaller dials for battery, fuel, water and oil condition.
The centre console is wonderfully period, and concentrates more on the aesthetic than the practical as is demonstrated by the period-correct Blaupunkt radio, which is mounted vertically. On the other hand, the gated gearchange is utterly gorgeous. (Can’t think where it drew its inspiration from…)
A previous owner installed an armrest between the seats. The headlining is clean, as are the door cards and carpets. It comes with its original space-saver spare tyre, inflation canister, tool bag with tools, and the owner’s manual.
The air-conditioning doesn’t work and it has still the older R12 gas in it, but changing to the newer R134a should prove to be relatively easy.
The only other work we can see that the new owner might want to undertake is to remove, clean and spray some of the interior brackets, a few of which are flaking. They might also want to consider replacing the rubber seal around the driver’s door as it has a small split in it. Both are very firmly in the nice-to-do category rather than essentials though.
The car still has its original exhaust and headers, and was serviced in America in August 2018. The work comprised new spark plugs, plus a new distributor cap, rotor arm, ignition coil, and HT leads.
January 2019 saw the car receiving yet more work in the ‘States. This time it got a new steering rack and rebuilt half shafts plus new front and rear suspension arms, tie-rod ends and dampers. A four-wheel alignment completed the work, which cost $10,000.
The cooling system has also been flushed and filled with Evan's ‘Waterless 180’ coolant at huge expense. This is a straightforward upgrade and has ensured that the engine coolant temperature never goes above 190F; overheating was one of the model’s few weak points, so it’s good to see that this one has been properly sorted. Extra fluid is included with the car for the new owner to use if and when it needs topping up in the future as water should never be used.
The engine bay is very clean and tidy, and the underside of the car is a real highlight as it is remarkably clean and has almost no surface rust. It really does look rather lovely - it’s a shame that almost no-one will ever see it… The Pantera now has a full 12 month MOT for added reassurance, plus the tester noted that with all of the signiuficant expenditure underneath in mechanical parts, 'the underside was like new'.
We’ve driven the car, and can confirm that it starts on the button, idles nicely (if a little high), and performs as you might expect, with a good gear change and effective brakes.
Speaking of which, the car comes with a kit to rebuild the brake calipers along with new front and rear brakes pads. The owner tells us that these do not need doing at the moment, but the spares will be handy to have when the need arises.
The Pantera comes with a few more spares, including a pair of rear light lenses and a passenger window motor and gear, which will need fitting to get the window working as it should as it is occasionally temperamental; please see photos for details of what is included.
The MOT certificate expires in July 2020.
The car comes with its original owner’s handbook and wallet, plus recent invoices and bills to confirm the work that has been done to it. The registration number will be removed prior to the end of the auction and the car will come with an age-related number.
Sadly, there is no historic paperwork prior to the current owner’s stewardship. This is, we are told, because the car was donated to the church as a legacy, and it seems the paperwork went missing at that point.
Please visit the documents section of the gallery of this listing where you will find photos of the recent paperwork to support our claim that this car has been recommissioned to a very good standard.
What We Think
While there is no shortage of De Tomaso Panteras for sale, good ones like this example are somewhat rarer. Now fully recommissioned and looking spectacular, it needs only a little cosmetic TLC to bring it back to an even better condition if you are fussy; what jobs are still outstanding are relatively minor, which means the new owner can get them sorted and add value as and when time allows.
With an estimate of only £49,000 to £59,000, the owner accepts that he isn’t going to get back the full amount he has invested in it but he’s a pragmatic man and is just happy in the knowledge that it is now sorted and running well for its new owner.
Oh, and just look at it. Wow.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this car can be seen here at The Market HQ in Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car, AnyVan for transporting it, and Footman James for classic car insurance.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings of any auction, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles we have for sale. While we use our trade experience to assess every car that comes through our hands (and between us we have bought hundreds of classic cars over the years for our personal use…) we are fallible, and our assessment of a car may contrast with that you might form yourself.
This is why we offer a far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange a professional inspection on their behalf of, each vehicle prior to bidding than any traditional car auction, and we will never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this by coming to see it in person.
That said, we do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or those formed as a result of a long test drive.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
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