Life-Long Love: 1972 De Tomaso Pantera

When he was a young boy, the owner of this 1972 De Tomaso Pantera spotted the car sitting on the showroom floor at his local Lincoln/Mercury dealer. It was love at first sight, and, decades later, he parked the same car in his garage. After a total restoration, he has enjoyed the ownership experience for three decades. However, the time has come for the Pantera to find a new home. Therefore he has listed it here on eBay in Danville, Illinois. He has set the BIN at $79,999 but may entertain offers.

Automotive history records a few individuals with unequaled charisma that could charm people at the drop of a hat. One was the infamous Preston Tucker, while another was Alejandro De Tomaso. The latter formed his own vehicle manufacturing company in 1959 and later proved adept at ingratiating himself with none other than Lee Iacocca to improve the company’s fortunes. Its initial production focus was on racing cars, reaching the heights of Formula One with a vehicle constructed for the legendary Frank Williams. However, that market would never keep the wolves from the door, so Alejandro turned his attention to creating mid-engined two-seat sports cars. The Pantera was its third model, following the Vallelunga and Mangusta. It also proved the company’s most successful, with more than 6,000 cars rolling out of the factory in Modena, Italy. Thanks to a share purchase by Ford instigated by Lee Iacocca, De Tomaso could sell the Pantera through Lincoln/Mercury dealerships in North America. That’s where the owner spotted this car in 1972. Many years later, he purchased the vehicle and treated it to a restoration in the 1990s. It presents well, with its Yellow paint retaining an excellent shine. The panels look clean and crisp, with gaps that are some of the tightest and most consistent I’ve seen on a Pantera from this era. The beautiful factory wheels are flawless, and the glass has no visible problems.

There are a few vehicle design features that win my heart. Suicide doors make the list, but so does the gated shifter in an Italian sports car. That is the first thing I looked for with this Pantera because some owners removed this factory feature to fit a leather shifter boot. The photo quality makes it difficult to confirm, but it looks like the shifter gate may be corroded, which would be odd when you compare it to the remaining trim and metal surfaces. However, the rest of the interior presents well for a vehicle of this vintage. The upholstered surfaces are free from physical damage, the dash looks good, and the gauges are clear. The seller admits the air conditioning is inoperative and that the car needs a new headliner. I had no trouble finding a replacement headliner and was pleasantly surprised at the retail price of $220. With those issues addressed, life inside this Pantera should prove pretty pleasant.

Given De Tomaso’s links with Ford, it is no surprise to learn that the Pantera features the company’s 351ci Cleveland V8. It is mid-mounted, sending its 310hp to the rear wheels via a five-speed ZF manual transaxle. At 2,859lbs, the Pantera was considered relatively heavy for a two-seat sports car. However, that 351 launched it through the ¼ mile in 13.5 seconds. If the owner proved brave enough, the needle would hover at 162mph when the V8 ran out of breath. It is unclear whether this Pantera is numbers-matching, but the news for potential buyers remains positive. The car runs and drives extremely well, meaning it’s ready to hit the road with a new owner behind the wheel.

I doubt there’s a classic car enthusiast who didn’t fall head-over-heels in love with a vehicle as a child. Few of us have the chance to eventually own that car, but that has been the good fortune experienced by the owner of this 1972 De Tomaso Pantera. After more than three decades, the decision to part with the car can not have been easy, but sometimes we face those choices. The BIN price sits within the ballpark for a Pantera of this standard, and while it won’t appeal to everyone, I won’t be surprised if he finds a buyer quickly. If you had the cash at your disposal, would you be tempted?

Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    The owner is right about this car. 80K for a nice Pantera if it checks out is a good buy. Not to make this a Ford vs. Chevy thing but I realized this car is in the same price range as a C2 Corvette. Another one of my all time favorites. If I was only to have one which would I pick? That’s a tough one. I don’t think you could go wrong with either choice.

    Like 15
  2. Squigly

    Beautiful design, a good engine, and a ZF 5 speed to boot. With that said, these are not a pleasant car to drive. A great car to race in, but not comfortable riding, noisy, hot inside, hard to get in and out of. No creature comforts. Certainly not what you want to take cross country on a trip. Plus these had a troublesome repair record, esp the wiring. I fellow pilot friend of mine bought one of these while we were in the service. Rarely drove it for the above reasons, and sold it at a loss.

    Like 9
    • FrankD

      You are correct. I had a 72 VIN No.3388 the other strange issue is the relationship (angle) of the foot pedal and steering column. I always felt I was sitting on an angle. Drivers foot box had no room. It took about a month to get use to the driving set up.. The ZF gearbox was worth more than the 351 engine. I had cooling problems due to the angle of the single row radiator and the distance the water traveled down the water pipes. Still its an eye catching car.

      Like 6
    • Stephen Nelson

      Wow – not comfortable, noisy, hot inside, hard to get into, no creature comforts? Wow. Please, please keep up the negative press and keep the prices down for truly phenomenal driving machines. Sure, if you put tall rims, short tires, have not serviced the a/c, put on loud mufflers (or no mufflers) and are obese, yup, all of the above gripes are spot on. But, get one of these cars right and it is a fantasy to drive. Long trips? Plenty of storage space and a supple ride make these perfect for 500 mile days.

      Like 5
      • FrankD Member

        Agree they are an exceptional car stock. People still ask what is it. I left mine stock except for carburetion, cam, headers and redoing the cooling system.

  3. SMS

    Had a Europa at the time I got in one of these. Many similarities on paper and vastly different in practice.

    What stands out the most was the motor in the Europa was behind you ready to push you and play. The motor in the Pantera was the devil on your shoulder suggesting one do illegal things.

    Like 8
    • FrankD Member

      The motor had low end oiling problems. If you tracked the car without a better oil pump and deeper oil pan with baffles you usually at some point ended up with spun main bearings.

  4. Bruce

    One of the most beautiful cars ever made and in some ways the equal to the XKE Jag in it’s ability to attract attention of everyone including the police. I have not owned one but I got to drive on a long distance an I have both a Europa and Esprit Turbo and they are a far better driving experience.

    The problem is that the steering wheel is off set to the left of the center line of the seat about 3/4″ of an inch and the pedals are off set a couple of inches to the right of the seat center line. That makes this amazing beauty one of the most uncomfortable cars I have every driven for a distance. If I was to purchase one as pure sculpture I would do so in an instant but as a car to drive any place but around town, well I would have a very long pause. Worse with the air conditioning not working you are driving a very bright yellow sauna. These cars get really hot. That the air conditioner was not an option was for a very good reason. This car needs it.

    I can understand the owners love. I did the same thing when I first saw one on a Lincoln Mercury dealer showroom floor. That they let me sit in it as a poor college student at the time totally amazed me. But they did and it was still love at first sight but that one long drive changed my opinion. As for keeping them running the cooling problems were a huge problem and what can I say nice about the Italian electrical systems. Well NOTHING.

    The wrong woman can seduce any man and the wrong car can do the same thing and this one is just so seductive. Even in Arrest Me YELLOW. LOL

    Like 4
  5. John

    One of the things I like about these Pantera’s is not one story I’ve ever read about them started with “Every kid had a poster of it hanging on their walls”

    Like 2
    • FrankD

      Pantera GT4 Red and black race car was on my wall. Years ago I tried to find one. Impossible!

  6. Bob

    Not for sure, but didn’t these cars have a terrific rust problem from being shipped on the decks of the transport ships?
    A friend bought one in the mid seventies and it had a rust problem. Seems there was some litigation with Ford.

  7. Dave Peterson

    I’m amazed the collective memory has forgotten the history of these when new. Like the Cobra, they all languished on dealer lots, usually ending up back at the importer (if contingency agreement in place), sold to Kjell or having a birthday party in the showroom because NO ONE in Podunk, USA paid $8000 for a sports car in 1972. We were in northern Idaho and comiserated with our local Ford store friends when this was in stock. It was so untouchable that even the sons of the principal wouldn’t sneak it out for a cruise. Amazing what time does to the human memory banks.

    Like 2
    • douglas hunt

      LOL, well, unfortunately I was 10 years old in 1972, otherwise I would have paid any price, If only I could have.
      I always lament I was born to late, sigh …..
      I remember a yellow one sitting on a used car lot right beside the interstate on ramp, when i was around 14. My brother worked with a guy later in life who bought and still had that car till he died.

      Like 2
  8. Howie

    I have always wanted one of these, but the bad comments here helped ease the pain of never owning one. Many are over $100k now.

    Like 1
  9. Kim

    In the early seventies I was into Italian design mid engine sports cars. This one was one of my favorites but the years that followed with a wider track and tastefully flared fenders brought the design to the top of my all time favorite list. Many other cars that attempt to modernize an aging design fail to improve it. But this car was and still is like fine wine. It’s better with age. The Pantera and the Gt 40 will always be the height of automotive design artistry for me.

  10. joenywf64

    With the 2.5 mph front bumper standard in effect in the USA in ’72 , i’m surprised the Pantera was exempt.
    I would think if there was a “stretch” of the body – that is, more/longer sheet metal between the front of the doors & rear of the front wheel openings, then the interior footwells would have been greatly reduced if not eliminated.
    & i would assume today that there is superior insulation to reduce heat inside, as well as there are cooling system upgrades.

  11. Claud

    My brother has owned one for over a decade,
    I am 5,10 and have a bad back so getting in &out is a pain
    The steering and seating are off like on a chevette
    As with many old cars ;the aftermarket has solved the issues
    We replaced the fuse box and the electrical gremlins disappeared
    Overheating is no longer a problem because the aftermarket produces monster radiators

    I admit it is a bit quirky but it is a great overall car that doesn’t have any major issues once the flaws are corrected
    I love convertibles so its not in my plans

  12. joenywf64

    Driver’s door mirror delete? Or holes filled in for it in the door?
    1 of the few USA imports where the wipers are pointing in the wrong direction.
    I recall some of these coming with HUGE boy racer “Pantera” decals
    along the lower sides – an option?
    Is this a ’71 only 2 spoke steering wheel?
    https://www.motortrend.com/uploads/f/158345069.jpg?fit=around%7C770:481.25
    Interesting reading …
    https://www.carstyling.ru/en/car/1973_detomaso_pantera_ii_montella/

  13. Harold Daniels

    For 80,000, I’d expect the owner to to make it perfect ( AC and headliner done), but hey, that’s just me.

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