Panther Preserved – 1972 De Tomaso Pantera

Ford V-8 DetomasoAlejandro de Tomaso was born into cattle money in the Río de la Plata region of Argentina, but left the cows in the mid-1950s to pursue the exciting life of a racing driver in Europe. By 1959, he had started De Tomaso Automobili in Modena, and was building small open-wheel racers. Likely with some serious capital from his heiress wife Isabelle’s family, de Tomaso got ambitious and aimed to emulate Ferrari by building desirable, exotic road cars that would both fund and promote his racing projects. Their first serious production car was the lovely little Vallelunga. Underneath the gorgeous body that almost looked like half-Porsche 904, half-Ferrari 250LM, it had parts sourced from VW and Triumph and a Ford Cortina motor. Only a handful of the unsuccessful Vallelungas were made, but the car provided a stepping stone for De Tomaso to really form an identity for itself. The car that replaced the Vallelunga, called the Mangusta (Mongoose), housed a large Ford V-8 behind the driver, a formula that De Tomaso would follow from then on. Again, while the Mangusta was an interesting car, it had its faults, namely a weak backbone chassis and 32/68 weight distribution.

The Mangusta’s replacement, of course, was the Pantera, and proved to be another one of those cars that kept on being built even after most people forgot about it. Ford imported Panteras from 1971 until 1974, and while the car had some teething problems, enthusiasts have reportedly both found solutions to them and implemented these solutions on most of the Panteras on the road today. This makes for an ideal classic supercar. A Pantera in any guise has the looks of an Italian exotic, but the Ford 351 keeps the purchase and running costs down. Some later Panteras, like the GT5, got big wings and hard to miss flared fenders. This look isn’t for everyone, and some prefer the unmolested look of the Tom Tjaarda-designed body. The Pantera featured here, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a clean, original and early car that commands attention even without wings or bulges.

A two-owner car with 31,000 original miles, this time-warp of a De Tomaso has a documented history and includes original goodies like the tool kit and luggage tray for the engine compartment. Panteras have always just sort of had a distilled coolness about them. They have four tailpipes, big tires, sharp lines, a huge V-8, an open gate shifter and a sexy name, surely making them some of the manliest cars around. This original car must be one of the best, so it’s definitely worth a look.

Check out the 1972 De Tomaso Pantera here on eBay, where the reserve is not yet met at $36,100.

Leave a Comment