The streets (or streetz) of Edmonton are rarely littered with anything of interest for car aficionados. But every now and again, something will snap your head and make you take notice. An early July day this past summer was just such a day when I came across the bastard love child of Italian coachwork and American muscle in a neighbourhood garage – the De Tomaso Pantera. Welcome to another episode of Da Streetz. I’ll save you the Googling and Wikipediaing. The Pantera (meaning “Panther”) was imported by Ford and sold at Mercury dealerships starting in 1971. Why Ford? Because Ford 351ci (5.8L) engines were under… uhh… trunk. It was mid-engined, after all.
De Tomaso was founded in 1959 by Argentinian Alejandro de Tomaso, an entrepreneur and Formula 1 driver who also owned Carozzeria Ghia and Maserati, among other Italian marques. It was Giorgetto Giugiaro who penned the Pantera’s predecessor, the Mangusta (Italian for “mongoose”). This is in contrast the the Mangusta’s predecessor, the Vallelunga, which was designed by Carozzeria Fissore but built by Ghia. Design work for the Pantera was left to Ghia. All three had Ford power and all three had Italian designs. All three also suffered from poor reliability and even worse handling. Some of the handling concerns were addressed in the Pantera, but certainly not the safety and reliability ones.
This owner is still alive though. Probably because he only takes the car out a few times a year.
Due to the Pantera’s already bastardized upbringing, owners thought little or nothing of modifying their cars with different engines. While the 1971 cars had a stout 330 hp that propelled the bantamweight car to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, 1972 cars were castrated with a 248 hp Cleveland engine in order to meet new federal emissions standards.
The Pantera was made all the way until 1991 with only minor changes. This may well be where Ford got the idea to keep their own Panther platform, underpinning the Crown Victoria, for decades too long. Not a great idea to copy, really.
A rather clean engine bay smack in the middle of the Panther.
Elvis Presley even owned a Pantera. So you know owners are a special breed. This owner sold his 911 Turbo for this car.
[Photo credits: author]