De Tomaso Pantera

An often overlooked classic, the Pantera could be a great alternative to much pricier contemporary Italian supercars
By Sony Thomas, Deputy Editor
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January 10, 2017
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There's no other supercar that can claim to be more international in its origin than the De Tomaso Pantera. Hand-assembled in Italy by De Tomaso Automobili, which was founded by Argentinian race driver Alejandro De Tomaso, it was designed by Ghia's Dutch-American designer Tom Tjaarda, with a pressed steel unitary chassis developed by legendary Italian engineer Giampaolo Dallara and powered by one of the best American engines of the era, the Ford 351 Cleveland V8.

While De Tomaso had already made a couple of other models -- the Vallelunga and the stunningly good looking but notoriously unreliable Mangusta -- it was the Pantera that became the brand's most popular sportscar. The chassis, reworked by Dallara, had much less rearward weight bias compared to the Mangusta, and the Pantera's driving dynamics were consequentially way better. The engine, which was the same that powered the Seventies Ford Mustang Boss 351, was good for more than 300bhp and helped the Pantera achieve Ferrari- and Lamborghini-baiting top speeds of over 250kph. And the fact that this exotic blend of Italian looks and American V8 muscle was available at almost half the price of a Ferrari or a Lamborghini added to its appeal.

Add to this a roomy interior with creature comforts like standard air conditioning, the Pantera went on to be popular in export markets like the US as well, with De Tomaso selling close to 6,000 of these supercars globally, bringing him enough money to acquire Maserati.

However, the Pantera was not without its problems. Despite its gorgeous looks and superb powertrain, the Pantera, like its predecessor, started developing reliability issues over time. Build quality was below par and it was susceptible to frequent breakdowns. In 1973, the Pantera L was introduced with a lower emissions engine and black safety bumpers owing to new US federal regulations. A year later, De Tomaso started offering the optional GTS package, which included bigger tyres, fibreglass fender flares and Pantera GTS badging along the side of the car.

The De Tomaso Pantera has always been an underestimated classic supercar, which means you can find examples in pretty good condition for reasonable prices, with the 1971-1974 models averaging between Dh175,000 and Dh200,000. Corrosion is a serious issue to consider though, and doing a thorough check can save you expensive sheet metal repairs later.