Designed by an American, powered by Ford and sold by Lincoln-Mercury, Alejandro de Tomaso’s Pantera offered both panache and performance.
Designed by Tom Tjaarda, the 351-Ford mid-engined Pantera replaced the stunningly impractical de Tomaso Mangusta, one of the most beautiful and difficult to drive Supercars ever. With less rearward visibility than a Ford GT and a clutch from Hell, the Mangusta is a four-wheeled piece of art. Not a great road car. While the Mangusta had a steel backbone chassis, the new Pantera represented de Tomaso’s first use of monocoque construction.

Photos: Top, stock ’72 Pantera CARS Magazine test car in front of my house (1972);
above, Sarasota Cafe Racer Joe Curley’s  twin-turbocharged Pantera GTS.

First shown to the public in Modena in March 1970, Pantera debuted the following month in the U.S. at the 14th New York International Auto Show, April 4 1970. Pantera, (Italian for Panther), started selling as a 1971 model at Lincoln-Mercury dealers. A little over 1,000 Vignale-bodied Panteras were sold, a high percentage plagued with rust (poor water drainage in the rear engine bay compartment), overheating and poor fit and finish. Ford used Holman & Moody to correct many of the mechanical malfunctions. Ford ended importation in 1975, after having sold approximately 5,500 cars. De Tomaso continued with the brand, in a variety of models,
some specifically for GT racing, until the mid-1990s.

For the complete Pantera story, check out check out Joe Breeze’s feature at Classic Driver,

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