1972 De Tomaso Pantera Coupe (LHD)
|Engine||Ford 351ci V8|
Styled by the late Tom Tjaarda from Ghia and engineered by Giampaolo Dallara, Alejandro de Tomaso’s Pantera (Panther in Italian) was born in 1971 as the successor to the beautiful but chronically underdeveloped Mangusta and, with Ford’s backing, evolved into one of the world’s best-selling supercars. With a production life spanning an extraordinary 21 years, the Pantera stayed true to the original concept of a Latin exotic powered by reliable American underpinnings, the 351ci Cleveland V8 providing plenty of brute force. Mid-mounted, the engine was mated to an aluminium-cased ZF five-speed transaxle with integral limited-slip diff, while race-bred suspension - comprising wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bars and telescopic shock absorbers all round – combined with fat rubber provided exemplary handling. Early Panteras could manage 0-60 mph in 5.5 seconds and a top speed of around 165 mph, dual circuit ventilated disc brakes (inboard at the rear) keeping all that speed in check. Late in 1971, Ford began exporting the Pantera to America 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 1007 cars reached the United States that year. As with most Italian cars of the day, rust-proofing was minimal and the quality of fit and finish on these early models was poor, with large amounts of body solder being used to cover body panel flaws. Subsequently, Ford increased its involvement in the production of the later cars with the introduction of precision stampings for body panels which resulted in improved overall quality.