13k Original Miles: 1972 De Tomaso Pantera

Following on from the much-maligned Mangusta, the Pantera represented a leap forward for De Tomaso in the design and engineering of a classic Italian sports car. It still possessed plenty of flaws, but these were nowhere near as bad as those of the Mangusta, making the Pantera a more pleasant car to both own and drive. This absolutely immaculate 1972 Pantera is being sold to settle a family estate, and it has been a much loved and cherished part of the deceased owner’s private collection since new. It is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is listed for sale here on eBay. It is a car that has generated some strong interest since it was listed, and a total of 57 bids has pushed it along to $50,100 in what is a No Reserve auction.

One of the aspects of the Pantera that I have always found interesting is the choice of paint names. This car comes from an era when manufacturers, especially Italian ones, would give their color choices quite flamboyant names. De Tomaso officially called this color “Red.” I guess that at least it makes it crystal clear what it is. Anyway, the Red paint on the Pantera looks to be really nice, although the car has undergone a repaint at some point in its life. The seller says that the underside of the car is spotless, and the panels look to be as straight as an arrow. The car rolls on a set of custom-made ET Wheels. They are very similar to the company’s “427” wheel design, but these ones feature 5-lug attachment rather than the original “427” knock-offs. The Pantera also comes with its original set of Campagnolo wheels, but I really don’t mind these ones that much.

Getting the Pantera up and moving is the original Ford 351ci Cleveland 4-bolt engine, which sends its 310hp to the rear wheels via a 5-speed ZF transaxle. With the Pantera being a relatively light car (2,859lbs), this engine provided the car with pretty reasonable performance figures. One of the Pantera’s big advantages over its predecessor was that the 351 as fitted to the Pantera featured a noticeable increase in engine torque, making the car a more flexible thing to drive than the more peaky Mangusta. The presentation of the engine bay in this Pantera is as good as you would expect from such a cherished car that has a mere 13,355 miles under its belt. The seller also says that the car runs and drives perfectly, with no problems to report. One of the known potential issues with the Pantera, especially early examples, were issues with engine cooling. The deceased owner has taken steps to address this, with the cooling system having undergone an upgrade.

The interior of this Pantera looks to be in really good condition, with no real problems to speak of. The next owner is certainly not going to have any work to do to bring the car up to a high standard, because it does look to be as-new. There are a few things to consider when looking at a Pantera as a potential classic, and these are issues that are common with many Italian sports cars from this era. The first is that while a Pantera has plenty of legroom, headroom is distinctly tight, especially if you are more than 6′ tall. Also, when you get a bit older, getting out of a car like this can be a less than elegant exercise. Still, if you can afford to own a Pantera, who cares what people think if you have to crawl out of your car.

When the Pantera was released, it represented a quantum leap forward over the Mangusta. The ownership and driving experience was still a compromise, but it did compare favorably with its direct Italian competitors. In fact, it had one big advantage over those cars. Where they tended to feature engines that were highly-strung, peaky in their power delivery and required some pretty intensive and expensive maintenance, the Pantera was blessed with a good old piece of American cast iron that delivered plenty of low-down torque and was cheap and easy to maintain. Sure, they were higher on pose-value than outright performance, but if you crave owning an early 1970s Italian sports car, there are definitely worse choices than a De Tomaso Pantera.

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Comments

  1. DRV

    It’s the best one I’ve ever seen.
    Totally stock and original with the cooling solved.

    7
  2. Tempo Matador Ray

    Nice domestic powerplant mated to a proven ZF transaxle. Maintenance of this machine is much more practical and affordable. Personal touches made are easily reversible (front and rear deck lid graphics, choice of wheels). The styling is classic and superb!

    2
  3. CJinSD

    The original front tires for this car were 185/70VR15. I don’t believe those are what it is what it is wearing.

  4. joe

    WAY too much clearance at rear – between fender and top of tire. Tires sticking out too far at front. Panteras weigh 3,200 #. These cars are capable of nickel and dimeing you to death. Actually, never-ending stacks of hundred dollar bills. I had a ’72 for 24 yrs., and even with throwing buckets of money at it, it still seemed to always have things wrong with it. On the other hand – and with a “built” engine, they are a very masculine sports car. You can take it to car shows or you can look for places to let it breath…….deeply. I did.

    4
    • NICK Member

      These are the cheapest italian car to maintain by far. If they nickel and dime you its because you got a mechanic that thinks it should cost more because its exotic.

      • Joe

        Wrong. Jim Zych is – and has been, THE most knowledgeable Pantera guy in the Orlando area. He worked as a mechanic at the Lincoln Mercury dealership when they were selling them new and has a white ’74 that he has had for decades. I never felt like he was overcharging me. Unless you pretty much refresh everything on the car, it is going to fail in time. Rust is a big problem. I don’t see any way to post pics of mine on here.

        3
    • Billieg

      In 1976 I was in the diner talking to my friend Gary who I served in Nam with. He seemed down and aloof. An hr later he hung himself. He was rich, good looking and came from a good family. I always admired his 72 Pantera and often helped him work on it.

      After his funeral his mother handed me an envelope and said Gary wanted you to have this. When I opened it up it was the title to his car. What a rush of emotions….

      I had that car until 1990 when I could no longer afford to fix it and parts were hard to come by. As Joe said “Theses cars will nickel and dime you to death”

      They are beautiful, fast and get all kinds of attention but you pay for it. I traded the car for a 1969 427, 4 speed Vette and never looked back. I hope the guy who buys this has a lot of cash and time and a second car to drive…

      4
      • Joe

        Horrible story. After about 10 yrs. of ownership and wads of hundred dollar bills, my wife said ” I’m not getting in that Pantera anymore” It wasn’t that it frightened her, but because she didn’t want to have to help me push it off when it refused to crank when hot. Especially in front of a nice restaurant…in a skin tight dress….in heels. And this was after changing and or rebuilding just about everything. I WILL say that what was impressive about it – with the pro built street engine – by a highly respected circletrack race engine builder, was loafing along at 115 – 120 in 5th, and flooring it. No downshift, and the ZF transmission is overdrive on both 4th & 5th. The car would pull so relentlessly to about 160, that I would be laughing uncontrollably. That ability is the No. 1 thing I enjoyed with the car.

        5
  5. redwagon

    Ah the things you could buy at your local Mercury dealer back in the day. ……

    This one is truly beautiful. I’ve never seen one in red, not even online, most I recall are yellow or orange.

    3
  6. Gaspumpchas

    Good commentary. I know that they had a lot of problems with the ZF transaxle when they were new- a local Lincoln Mercury Dealer had 3 of them in the shop bays waiting for replacement Trannys. This was 1973 timeframe. This is one of the nicest ones I’ve seen. Guess if you want one, here it is-grab the checkbook!! Always wanted to run one of these thru the gears. Good Luck to the new owner!!
    Cheers
    GPC

    2
    • JoeNYWF64

      I guess the ZF still is not a good manual transaxle for the upcoming mid engine vette?
      Ironically, the upcoming mid eng vette is only avail with an automatic.
      Ironically, Pantera was only avail with a manual trans 47 years ago!!
      What took you so long, chevy!
      Odd the wipers are pointing in the wrong direction on Pantera.
      I wonder if the upcoming vette will have rusting problems with the LONG coolant lines, running from the front all the way to the back, like on Pantera & Fiero.
      The Pantera is SOOO LOWWW to the ground you have to worry if today’s SUV drivers will even SEE you in this car, especially when they are on the phone, driving.

  7. z28th1s

    By far my favorite exotic car!

    2
  8. Dan

    Beautiful car. But being that I’m 6’2,” I’m not sure I’d fit in it.

  9. Nick

    That wheel and tire combination is by no means custom, totally off the shelf stuff and totally wrong for the car on every level. They bolt on to the car but that’s all that’s right about them.

  10. t-bone Bob

    Car sold for $65,100

    1

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