Since it’s inception in 1971, the lesser-known car manufacturer De Tomaso Automobili produced over 7,000 Pantera supercars, but almost everyone except collectors seems to have forgotten about them. A mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sportscar lined up with many other competitors of the category and offered a unique styling that made the car iconic over its twenty years in production.
The Pantera’s design
The De Tomaso Pantera very much looked like a car from that was designed in the 1970s, in all of the best ways. The car took the spotlight for the first time in the manufacturing town of Modena, Italy, and made its way to the United States later that way for the New York Motor Show. It became a fast favorite among supercar lovers and car collectors and sold very well with constant interest.
The design of the Pantera was so popular, in fact, that it didn’t change much over it’s 20 year production span, and most of the differences were found between different types of the supercar, like competition or track-oriented models. For the average driver, however, the changes were relatively minute.
Under the hood – or trunk, rather, of this mid-engine monster is a 5.8L V8 that put out 326hp in the early years and 350hp after some minor redesign. All versions were rear-wheel drive with 5-speed transmissions, but they had very different top speeds. The first models of the Pantera could max out at a speed of about 159mph, not bad for a sports car of that year, even if we currently except supercars and hypercars to hit at least 300mph. Later on, the Italian exotic made it up to almost 180mph.
While those numbers might not be too impressive in a day and age where we expect expensive exotics to have impressive stats, the first models of the Pantera could go 0 – 60mph in an average of 5.5 seconds.
Interior and features
The Pantera also had some cool features that made it stand out, especially in the European car market. Just some of the features that can standard were electric windows – pretty impressive for a 1970s car, and air conditioning.
Looking at it today, you may not think the interior is anything to sneeze at, but in fact, the plush, leather-wrapped seats of the Pantera were designed to hold the driver and passenger safely in place as you buzzed down the highway or rounded sharp corners faster than need be. They might not have had the Apply Carplay and Bluetooth music that we expect from newer cars, but many owners of the time and still to this day were overall pleased with the odd design of the controls and the dashboard.
Because De Tomaso Automobili didn’t have well-established dealerships across the United States, and realistically didn’t sell many other models at a full-production scale, the had to look for solutions on importing them to the US as well as distribution in sales. This is where Ford comes in.
In 1971, Ford began the importation of the Pantera for the De Tomaso Automobili company, reportedly bringing over 5,000 models to the United States in just four short years. They have been collector cars ever since.