The First 75: 1971 DeTomaso Pantera

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What is it about DeTomaso Panteras that they are seemingly the most abused supercar in existence? It’s not difficult to find rough, project-grade examples of these sensuous sports cars, much like this 1971 example in California here on eBay. However, this one is just a touch more special than the others, and it has to do with the doors. There’s one bid at $25,000 with the reserve unmet. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Jim S. for the find! 

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As the seller notes, this Pantera is a “push button door” model. This means the car was one of the first 75 ever built and imported into the United States. They were originally intended for the European market but were re-directed stateside once the agreement with Ford was settled. These early cars were also entirely hand-built, making them a touch more desirable than later models.

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Since it’s all about the doors, what’s the significance of a push button? Well, these early cars had a round door button and integrated hand grip rather than the later and more conventional pull-type handle. Fortunately, the doors are still attached to the car; less fortunately, there are some corrosion issues to tackle before you get distracted by these magical door poppers.

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The layer of pine needles and other vegetation confirm the seller’s statement that this Pantera has been sitting for quite some time. The 351 Cleveland and matching transmission are original to the car, but there’s no information given about the engine’s health. There are no pictures of the interior, either, but it’s also said to be quite rough. So do the doors make this one worth restoring or is it destined to become a parts car?

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Comments

  1. Steven C

    The low maintainence of the ford drivetrain allows these to be driven into the dirt by chuckleheads when most other supercars would have been sidelined way earlier by expensive and/or hard to do maintainence. That’s why you see more abused ones.

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  2. redwagon

    this car is from california? it must have been under a tarp. cannot imagine why there is so much rust at the front end. 25k seems more than a bit steep even for an early example considering the condition it is in.

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  3. Jim

    This fallacy is that the “early” cars are more desirable, mainly because of the small bumpers. The reality is that the later cars have numerous structural upgrades that make is a much more sound vehicle and you can still remove the large bumpers to give it an early look. I’m speaking of the ’71 thru ’74 years. This rusted POS is not worth the $$ that some fool is currently bidding and that statement comes from a guy that loves these cars and owns 3 of them.

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  4. bcavileer

    Darn “white” plates cause so much corrosion…

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  5. Art Fink

    What a crime to let the car get to this shape……..the owners should be ashamed of themselves.

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Art, Howard from the big “H” blog here. I hope you are on solid ground where you are. Some people, hey? Who raised these folks? The Pantera was one of the 1st “supercars” that people could relate to. It had a Ford drivetrain, not some exotic motor where nothing looked familiar. Like nothing else on the road. Pretty cool cars, but I’d still rather have a ’64 Falcon Futura.

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      • jackthemailman(ret)

        Yes! to the ’64 Futura! I’ve always loved ’em.

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      • don trump

        The batmobile?

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  6. alan

    Once “entirely hand-built” and soon to be entirely hand re-built.

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  7. alan

    Ad are always appealing when they state things like “This is a great project for somebody who wants to have a car worth over $100,000 when it’s finished!” while neglecting to mention that the costs most often exceed the resulting value.

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  8. RayT Member

    I remember having an interesting talk about Panteras with Bill Stroppe, whose shop was paid by Ford to rectify “faults” before delivery. The early cars arrived as real do-it-yourself kits; most needed a LOT of effort to make ready: missing/loose hardware, cooling system and electrical problems, and so on. My recollection is that later cars needed less work, but were never really satisfactory when they showed up at the port.

    This one obviously needs much more!

    Love the concept: who wouldn’t like an exotic mid-engine GT with a nice reliable Ford V8 providing the power? But even a “good” Pantera would be beyond my ability to straighten out, and a rust-bucket like this one is just not appealing….

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  9. JW454

    I was a passenger in one of these at around 170 M.P.H. on I-75 just south of Dayton Ohio. It was back when these were new and a Mechanic from the dealership where I worked was going to go out for a test drive and asked if I’d like to go along. It was a rush but I’d never do it again. I’ve always liked these since I worked on them back then but, I’m sure ownership would just be trouble waiting to happen.

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    • Chris

      I did 155 in a modified 74 on the long straight at road America. My friend owned the car. Is was a good track car with lots of upgrades but it was constantly broken. He sold it for 55k 6 years ago. It was a nice one.

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  10. Mr. Bond

    It’s Shark week, isn’t it?

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  11. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    These Panteras aren’t so valuable that someone could buy this for $27K (with the reserve not met, so more than that) and turn it into what it’s worth in excellent condition for the difference.

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  12. Chebby

    Crusty junk at top dollar. What’s not to like?

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  13. Jerry Koszut

    I bought this one brand new. It’s current owner has made it even better than new.

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  14. Will

    There is bit more to the pushbutton than just the doors. As mentioned earlier the car was hand built in a different factory, which alone is a big deal. The windshield trim is different, bumpers are squared off on the ends and are thicker – not just a stamped plate, single slot rims, aluminum gas tank (wrapped in fiberglass on recall), dash1 ZF trans, some still have the original steering wheel, interior pieces have the vin number wrote inside, and I’m sure a few other things. True Ford had quality issues, but compared to period Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati, it was comparable, and possibly more reliable. The reality is the quality was poor at that time on everything. Chrysler cars were often inspected before unloaded for faults. Once unloaded they became the dealer’s problem, for example.

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  15. Bryan Cohn

    Cars like this, if bought correctly are really good candidates for vintage racing cars. I always wonder why people don’t start with this instead of some near perfect car to build into a vintage racer.

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  16. Julles

    I always wanted a Panterra, was set to buy one and then I sat in one. I am 5’5 and the top of the windshield hit me right between my eyes. I felt like Tom Selleck when he drove the Jaguar XKE Roadster. Then just sitting there was really uncomfortable. My legs were at an odd angle and not a lot of leg room. I knew in 5 minutes, I didn’t want the car. To me, this car was a work of art not a driver and I believe that cars are meant to be driven not lawn jockeys.

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    • Jim

      I’m 6’0″ and weigh 185lbs and I fit in all three of the Panteras I own and have no problem with the pedals. You have to know how to enter an Italian sports car, you ease in ass first and then swing your legs over as you recline. You can’t jump in it like it’s the General Lee.

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  17. Jim L

    My personal preference is the Mangusta.

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