De Tomaso Pantera

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For other uses of the name "Pantera", see Pantera (disambiguation).
De Tomaso Pantera
De Tomaso Pantera Cortina.jpg
De Tomaso Pantera GTS
Overview
Manufacturer De Tomaso
Production 1971–1992
7260 produced[1]
Designer Tom Tjaarda at Ghia
Marcello Gandini (Pantera SI)
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Body style Coupé
Layout Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Powertrain
Engine
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,515 mm (99 in)
Length 4,270 mm (168 in)
Width 1,811 mm (71.3 in)
Height 1,100 mm (43 in)
Chronology
Predecessor De Tomaso Mangusta

The Pantera (Italian for "Panther") was a mid-engined sports car produced by the De Tomaso car company of Italy from 1971 to 1991,[1] the last one being delivered to a customer in 1992.[2] It was the automaker's most popular model, with over 7,000 units produced during its 20 year run.


History[edit]

The car was designed by American designer Tom Tjaarda[3] 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 Pantera logo included a version of Argentina's flag turned on its side with a T-shaped symbol that was the brand used by De Tomaso's Argentinian cattle ranching ancestors.[4]

The car made its public debut in Modena in March 1970 and was presented at the 1970 New York Motor Show a few weeks later.[3] Approximately a year later the first that production Panteras were sold, and production had been increased to three per day.[3]

The curious slat-backed seats which had attracted comment at the New York 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 insufficient for drivers above approximately 6 ft. (ca. 183 cm) tall.[3] Reflecting its makers' transatlantic ambitions, the Pantera came with an abundance of standard features which appeared exotic in Europe, such as electric windows, air conditioning and even "doors that buzz when ... open".[3] By the time the Pantera reached production, the interior was in most respects well sorted[clarification needed], although resting an arm on the central console could lead to inadvertently activating the poorly located cigarette lighter.[3]

The first 1971 Panteras were powered by a Ford 351 cu in (5.8 L) V8 engine that produced a severely underrated 330 hp (246 kW; 335 PS). Stock dynos over the years proved that power was more along the lines of about 380 hp (283 kW; 385 PS).[citation needed] The high torque provided by the Ford engine reduced the need for excessive gear changing at low speeds: this made the car much less demanding to drive in urban conditions than many of the locally built competitor products.[3]

The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta was also used for the Pantera: a passenger in an early Pantera recorded that the mechanical noises emanating from the transaxle were more intrusive than the well restrained engine noise.[3] Another Italian car that shares the ZF transaxle is the Maserati Bora, also launched in 1971 although not yet available for sale.[5] Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering were all standard equipment on the Pantera. The 1971 Pantera could accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds according to Car and Driver.

In the summer of 1971, a visitor to the De Tomaso plant at Modena identified two different types of Pantera awaiting shipment, being respectively the European and American versions.[3] From outside, the principal differences were the larger tail lamps on the cars destined for America, along with addition of corner marker lamps.[3] The visitor was impressed by the large number of cars awaiting shipment; in reality, spending the best part of a year under dust covers in a series of large hangars probably did nothing for the cash-flow of the business or the condition of some of the cars by the time they crossed the Atlantic.


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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. These cars were poorly built, and several Panteras broke down during testing on Ford's 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 body solder being used to cover body panel flaws. Notably, Elvis Presley once fired a gun at his Pantera after it would not start.

1972 De Tomaso Pantera Interior

Several modifications were made for the 1972 model year Panteras. A new 4 Bolt Main Cleveland Engine, also 351 cu in, was used with lower compression ratio (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 August 1972 as a 1972½ model. It featured a large black single front bumper for the US market, rather than the separate bumperettes still used abroad, as well as a 248 hp (185 kW) Cleveland engine. 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".

De Tomaso Pantera GT5, pictured in London

Ford ended their importation to the US in 1975, having sold around 5,500 cars. De Tomaso continued to build the car in ever-escalating forms of performance and luxury for almost two decades for sale in the rest of the world. A small number of Panteras was imported to the US by gray market importers in the 1980s, notably Panteramerica and AmeriSport. After 1974, Ford US discontinued the Cleveland 351 engine, but production continued in Australia until 1982. De Tomaso started sourcing their V8s from Australia once the American supplies dried up. These engines were tuned in Switzerland and were available with a range of outputs up to 360 PS (265 kW; 355 hp).[6]

In 1980, beginning with chassis number 9000 according to De Tomaso themselves, the chassis was completely revisioned. From May 1980 the lineup included the GT5, which had bonded and riveted-on fibreglass wheelarch extensions and from November 1984 the GT5S model which had blended arches and a distinctive wide-body look.[7] The GT5 also incorporated better brakes, a more luxurious interior, much larger wheels and tires and the fiberglass body kit also included an air dam and side skirts. Production of the wide body GT5 (and similarly equipped narrow body GTS models) continued until 1985, when the GT5-S replaced the GT5. Although the factory has not made its records available, an analysis based on Vehicle Identification Numbers by the Pantera Owners Club of America (POCA) late model (9000 series) registrar has shown that fewer than 252 GT5 Panteras were likely to have been built. The GT5-S featured single piece flared steel fenders instead of the GT5's riveted-on fiberglass flares, and a smaller steel front air dam. The 'S' in the GT5-S name stood for "steel". Otherwise the GT5-S was largely identical to the GT5. The POCA 9000 series registrar's VIN analysis indicates that fewer than 183 GT5-S Panteras were built. Concurrent GTS production continued, on a custom order and very limited basis, until the late 1980s.

The car continued to use a Ford V8 engine, alhough in 1988, when the supply of Ford 351 Cleveland engines from Australia ran out, De Tomaso began installing Ford 351 Windsor engines in the Pantera instead. For 1990 the 351 was changed to the Ford 302 cu in (4942 cc, commonly called a "5.0"). Incorporating a Marcello Gandini facelift, suspension redesign, partial chassis redesign and the new, smaller engine, the Pantera 90 Si model was introduced in 1990. Only 38 90 Si models were sold before the Pantera was finally phased out in 1993 to make way for the radical, carbon-fibre-bodied Guarà. Some say 41 were built (with the last one not finished until 1996), of which four were targa models. The targas were converted by Pavesi directly off the production lines. In all, about 7,200 Panteras were built.

1974 De Tomaso Pantera engine bay

Pantera SI[edit]

After 20 years of production, De Tomaso turned to Marcello Gandini to do a major restyling of the production model. 41 units were built of the Pantera SI until production stopped in 1993. In the UK, the model was sold as Pantera 90.

Specifications[edit]

A one-off second generation Pantera prototype made by Ghia.[8]

1971 specifications:

  • Engine: 351 in3 (5,752 cc) Cleveland (5.7 L) V8
  • Power: 330 hp (246 kW)
  • Curb weight: 3,123 lb (1,417 kg)
  • Wheelbase: 98.4 in (2,499 mm)
  • Front track: 57.0 in (1,448 mm)
  • Rear track: 58.0 in (1,473 mm)
  • Length: 158.0 in (4,013 mm)
  • Width: 67.0 in (1,702 mm)
  • Height: 43.4 in (1,102 mm)
  • Brakes: Front 332 x 32 ventilated and cross-drilled; Rear: 314 x 28 ventilated / '71 Panteras had 15" wheels, and brake rotors were smaller than 300 mm (11.8 in).
  • Fuel consumption: 15 mpg.[clarification needed][9]
  • Maximum Speed: 159 mph (256 km/h).[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Cars: Yesterday:pantera". detomaso.it/gb/. Retrieved 2008-08-09. 
  2. ^ "The History". detomaso.it. Retrieved 2008-08-09. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Coltrin, Pete (10 July 1971). "Leave the Homburg at home: [Report of a visit to the de Tomaso plant]". The Motor: 29. 
  4. ^ Fitzgerals, Craig (April 2010). "De Tomaso: The Italian automaker's South American heritage is in its emblem". Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  5. ^ Frere, Paul (10 July 1971). "Continental Diary....Up to now only two Bora have been built". The Motor: 30–31. 
  6. ^ Heitz, Rudolf, ed. (1 August 1986). Auto Katalog 1987 (in German) 30. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage GmbH & Co. KG. p. 120. 
  7. ^ De Tomaso Pantera: Parts & Accessories, De Tomaso Automobili SpA, 1986, p. 5 
  8. ^ "Long Forgotten Pantera Prototype Resurfaces at Villa d'Este". italiaspeed.com/2008. 2008-03-05. Retrieved 2008-07-18. 
  9. ^ a b Willson, Quentin (1995). The Ultimate Classic Car Book. DK Publishing, Inc. ISBN 0-7894-0159-2. 

External links[edit]