My bride of nearly 29 years just returned from a two-week trip to Israel with her parents. While she was there, a text with this photo popped up with the caption, “Did I do good?” Yes, dear, perfect! It looks like she’s captured a 1972 De Tomaso Pantera rounding the bend near Ein Zivan in Northern Israel. That’s Mt. Hermon in the background if my google-fu is any good.
Since this is only an Outtake, you’ll not get a detailed history, but suffice it to say that Alejandro de Tomaso was Argentinian by birth, and emigrated to Italy somewhat under duress in 1955. In 1969, by request of Lee Iacocca, De Tomaso developed the Ford-powered Pantera – “Panther” in English, which fit nicely with L-M’s Cougar, Bobcat and Lynx. The car was manufactured in Modena, Italy and marketed in North America exclusively by Lincoln-Mercury. It’s hard to pin down the exact year of this car, but early 1972 is my best guess based on the lack of the integrated 5 MPH front bumper introduced in late 1972 (at least in NA). This is the second ’72 Pantera I’ve seen in a year – the first was covered in the link below:
Trackside Classics: 1972 Pantera + 1988 Fiero + 2015 Fit (Jazz) – Eclectic Entrants at AutoX
She did good, but such a pity she cut the nose off. I’ve seen a Pantera, but it was a long long time ago. At least it was an early one like this, before they started playing around with tasteless add-ons to the shape.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen a couple Pantera’s in my life. I’ve always liked how they look, and, if these cars were built better, I could see how they could’ve been a bigger success. Italian styling with American V8 power, I think that’s an idea that could still work. All the beauty, with an engine that anybody can work on, while still offering plenty of power. Of course, it was still Italian and it was still a supercar, and it was made in the 70s, so, pretty self explanatory.
I got the chance to see a Pantera close up at a Good Guys event in Pleasanton about five years ago. I’ve read many magazine articles, and there is a very good video program on Jay Leno’s garage. As I’ve mentioned before, the on line version of this show is aimed at true enthusiasts, and the cars are covered in great detail. Panteras are just beautiful and up to about ten years ago had not gotten crazy expensive. Now they are just another dream. At least as a consolation prize I have my XJS, which should be up and running soon.
There was a great comparison of these exotic type cars in either C&D or MT. I think there were six of them and included the Pantera, Maserati Bora or Merak, Fiat X1/9, Porsche 914 and Ferrari Dino. The Pantera was disparaged largely due to it’s pedestrian Ford 351 engine, being referred to as a latter-day Cobra.
But what was worse about the Pantera was it was the first car I saw described as one where the people outside were getting a better experience than those inside the car. IIRC, the ergonomics were atrocious, with that all-too-typical Italian layout designed for people with very short legs and very long arms.
It was a pretty stout engine. The 351 Cleveland had enormous valves and ports and could flow tons of air. It was a car that had to be warrantied and capable of operating in all weather conditions. So the factory made some compromises to meet those requirements. With nothing more than a performance tuneup and a few bolt on parts you had a car that was scary fast. After nothing more
than bolting on some parts in your garage. A 351 Cleveland is essentially a bigger Boss 302. The same engine that won the Trans-Am series in 1970.
Great find by Mrs. Stembridge! Other cars may have been rarer or more expensive, but a Pantera couldn’t be beaten in terms of exotic appeal.
When I would (very infrequently) see an occasional Pantera years ago, what always struck me about them was the height. Even back when cars were generally lower, a Pantera was LOW. At 43″ high, it’s a foot shorter than a modern Mustang. Drivers must have to contort themselves pretty creatively just to get behind the wheel.
Hey, Mrs Dougd is at this very moment at the airport about to go to Israel.
Somehow I doubt this will be here ride for the week. I’ll tell her to keep a lookout for some old cars, although this isn’t the kind of ancient history they’ll be looking for…
We truly are kindred souls, Doug! Look forward to meeting you in Detroit!
So you got to stay home and pay the bills while this was going on too?
Pretty much! (somebody had to feed the cows and clean up after, too)
I rode in a Pantera one time in early ’74. A college friend worked as an installer for the local stereo shop and the Pantera’s owner (local rich dude) brought it in for an upgrade to the sound system. Of course we took it for a short ride around campus and of course no hot girls were walking around that day! I do remember having to sit kind of crooked in the passenger seat as the front wheelwell was right where you’d expect to put your legs/feet. My friend said he was talking to the owner when the work was completed and was told the owner could never be sure everything would work (electrical stuff: windows, headlights, etc.) whenever he started the car.
My favorite part of the Pantera is how well it’s styling actually matches Ford’s general design themes of the time despite it’s Italian design. The greenhouse shape (including the vent behind the actual quarter glass)pretty closely mirrors the 70 Torino and 71 Mustang sportsroofs, and the buttresses even complimented L-M’s own 71-73 Cougars in the showroom. Shame how problematic they were in the electrical end of things, the engine itself probably gave the least trouble per horsepower by a wid margin than any other car in this catagory did at least.
Great looking wheels too. I swear the late 60s-70s was the zenith for wheel design as much as the cars themselves.
The similarity was because the Pantera was a collaboration between Ford and DeTomaso. It was created from the get-go to be Ford’s supercar. It was designed to have that “Ford look”.
The “Ford look”, right down to the low rent Custom 500 outside mirror.
The Pantera design was not born from a Ford studio, but was an evolution from the de Tomaso Mangusta. The Mangusta was a little lower and had a longitudinally split, flat backlite. De Tomas needed to replace the Mangusta as its structure could not handle any more power. Thus, the 289-powered Mangusta yielded to the 351-powered Pantera.
I didn’t say it “was born from a Ford studio”. Do you know the complicated relationship between DeTomaso, Ghia and Ford that produced the Pantera?
DeTomaso bought Ghia in 1967, but it was draining money, as was the Pantera. He desperately needed a sugar daddy, which he found in Lee Iaccoca. DeTomaso worked on Lee (in his usual way) and got Lee to commit funds for the development and US sales of the Pantera. Since the US was going to be by far the biggest market for it, that was critical.
American Tom Tjaarda styled the Pantera (unlike the Mangusta, which was styled by Giugiaro) at Ghia, which DeTomaso was in the process of off-loading unto Ford. That sale happened in 1970.
My point is that because Ford bankrolled the Pantera project, and bought Ghia, which then became an in-house Ford studio/design center, the Pantera was obviously and deliberately designed to harmonize with the Ford “look” of that time, unlike the Mangusta, which had zero design compatibility with Ford then.
Money talks. And Lee did not want something in his showrooms that looked totally inconsistent with the rest of the cars there.
the look was italian and german. I don’t see any ford in it unless you mean german ford.
As someone who has actually driven these things, although 30+ years ago, I would say I felt they were more german than italian in character. Except for the engine of course.
Nice catch. As the resident Israeli representative, I can add this Pantera joined Israel as a new import around 2011, and was “unveiled” at a classic meeting (it’s part of the classic Alfa club- well, it’s Italian…). I was even there to capture the moment:
Looks like that V8 was just thrown in there and not really connected to anything:
To be fair, there’s supposed to be a cover that hides the transaxle and most of the engine, but it’s usually absent (maybe for cooling?).
“That’s a beautiful engine bay, Mr. de Tomaso. So elegantly simple. How did you hide the driveshaft and transmission so well?”
And the missing front:
Awesome – I was hoping you’d pipe in!
Yes that’s a later import. There was another one running around in Tel Aviv on foreign plates sometime in the 80s… If my memory does not deceive me:)
Those Tom Tjaarda-penned lines have aged well, still look fantastic. Resto-modding these as so many owners seem to do just screws it up. Love those magnesium Campy wheels. A stock ’72 would’ve had 15×7 on the front, 15×8 rear. The car in the photo appears to have the super deep dish 15x10s on the rear, which were originally fitted to the ’74 Pantera GTS. Both are rare as hens teeth and usually priced accordingly. Heck, Panteras in general have sky rocketed in value in recent years, though nothing like Mangustas have.
I see one in town every summer… dark blue. On the rear differential cover is a small Dept. Of Transportation. street sign (YELLOW w black letters) that reads “Slow Children”.! lol
The rear view of these cars are almost intimidating… all muscle, yet oh sooo sexy!
I remember having a Matchbox Pantera as a kid; one of my favorites. It was actually a pleasant surprise when I discovered it was a real car. My family drove Beetles, so I half suspected something as cool as the Pantera had to be made up.
I’d be interested to know the reaction of Lincoln-Mercury dealers when the Pantera plan was unveiled. Were they happy to have a halo car to bring in business, or was it “what do we do with *this*?” There doesn’t seem much overlap between Continental/Mark buyers and Pantera customers, but I could be wrong.
About the same as when they told of the Capri, XRTi, Scorpio & Oz Capri, et al, in a word, clueless.
Back when these were new–early 1970’s, though I’m vague on the date–we saw TWO of these–one red, one yellow–parked outside the old Little America restaurant here in Salt Lake City. They were so new they still had the temporary license stickers in the back window, and we couldn’t resist peeking to see the names of the buyers. Both cars were registered to–wait for it!–the Church of Scientology.
“We’ve noticed your religious fervor waning recently, Ron. As penance, you must…perform regular maintenance on the Panteras. For 10 years..”
Why am I not surprised? I watched that excellent documentary on Scientology recently; confirmed everything I always suspected (and knew). The science of ripping off stupid suckers.
Oops; religion is taboo here, but then it’s not really a religion.
Gorgeous cars, always one of my favorite designs. Interesting how many additions of wings, air dams, side sills, etc. they sprouted in later years, but these originals just have the exotic *it* factor. Undiluted.
Kudos to Mrs. Ed – that’s pretty awesome she was so quick on the draw with her phone. It’s amazing how our CC Fever can spread to other family members.