Warehouse Find: 1972 DeTomaso Pantera Project

The combination of Italian styling and American V8 power always seems to be a winning combination, and the original DeTomaso Pantera is a terrific example of this formula in action. This particular car is said to have been laid up since the late 1970s and is finally seeing the light of day in sunny South Florida. Find it here on craigslist listed for $37,900.

The seller notes that the body and interior have been stripped, along with all mechanical components previously removed. The car is said to have minimal rust and a solid frame, which is a positive considering the potentially damp conditions it was stored in in Florida. The engine spun a bearing in the 1970s and various parts have gone missing since disassembly began, an aspect of the Pantera’s features that the seller refers to as “smalls.”

Among the missing items are the bumpers, door panels, exhaust, driver’s seat, windshield, carb and intake. Fortunately, the original block, heads, crank and ZF transaxle all remain with the Pantera. As you can see in this photo, the original gauge package is still attached but dash surfaces look well worn, no thanks to the missing windshield. Overall, this is not just a mechanical restoration but also a significant cosmetic rebuild as well.

The worrisome aspect about projects like these is the already completed disassembly. It’s easy to take a car apart; much harder to store parts carefully and put it back together. The reference to missing parts (“smalls”) and the long period in which the Pantera was parked leads me to believe there’s more than a few missing items and the next owner will spend as much time sleuthing for new ones as they will rebuilding the mechanical bits. Would you take it on?

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Comments

  1. Billy Bob

    More economical to buy a turn key car.

    • Sal Monelli

      You are soooo right !!
      Nice driver quality Pantera’s can be bought in the $50-65K range … restoring this collection of rusty parts is pure folly!

    • Geri

      I love the Pantera’s, I cant believe anyone would let this happen to one, musta been a rich mans son who abused it because he wanted a Ferrari

  2. jdjonesdr

    I’m no expert, and I like them, but I wouldn’t take it if they gave it to me.

  3. OIL SLICK

    So he stole it and stripped it down, made some money on parts and now he thinks it’s been long enough to sell what’s left?

  4. TriPowerVette

    I wanted one of these from the moment the Mangusta was first introduced to the public.

    One day in the late 1970’s, our friend Eliott B came pulling up into my driveway with a red Pantera that looked like brand new, but it was a 1972, I believe. He was grinning from ear to ear, and left the driver’s door open, beckoning me with his hand to come get in and drive it.

    EAGERLY, I came over, and (having experience getting in and out of a Ford GT40), I attempted a similar ingress. Back then, I was 5’11” and 165 lbs. I was experienced with cramped sports cars. However; fold, twist and bend as I might, I just couldn’t get into the car! As badly as I wanted to take it for a drive, there was no way I would ever be able to.

    That was a shocking and perplexing moment, in my automotive background.

    I have driven Lotus Europas, Austin Bugeyes, and Triumph GT-6’s, but the Pantera experience was not to be.

    For their time, they were stunningly beautiful, reasonably priced, widely available, and offered excellent performance, with very modest maintenance costs. Maybe they would have been more prolific, had they considered even normal-sized drivers in the formula.

    • TriPowerVette

      BTW – His price is turbo zoom psycho. It is double overpriced at half the asking price.

      • david broderick

        Well said!

      • TriPowerVette

        +david broderick – Thank you.

        P.S. – Where’s my thumbs up?

    • Pantera1973

      How strange; at 6’4” and 240 lbs I have never had any problem getting into my 73 Pantera. 31 years of ownership and the car still puts a big grin on my face when I start it up. 🙂

      • TriPowerVette

        +Pantera1973 – They put a grin on EVERYONE’S face. That 351 C is a sweet engine.

        But I am blowing the whistle on this one. The ONLY way 6’4″ and 240 lbs gets into and out of a Pantera is either with on-site surgery (either the car or the driver), or a removable steering wheel. And even at that, they’d charge you an extra ticket for oversize passenger.

        Orrrrr… are you a professional contortionist?

        The good news is that, once in, you could easily use your knees for arm rests. (I really don’t know about that one though, since I never actually got in to find out how capacious the footwells were).

      • Harold Wood

        I’m 6’2″ and when I had mine I was 178 pounds but in my 20’s when I had mine and I had no problem getting in My back in the 70’s. I’m stiff and not too flexible now but I drive a Jag now and get in and out ok.

    • Pantera1973

      That is really strange; I’m 6’4″ and 240 pounds and I’ve never had any problem getting in or out of my 73 Pantera. I just step in with my right leg, sit down in the seat, and bring my left leg in. I can stretch my legs straight out; lots of legroom.

      The gentleman above is 6’6″ and other than the addition of a smaller steering wheel the rest of the interior is stock.

      If someone needs even more room dropped floor pans are available and you can space out the pedal box and get even more leg room. I don’t really see why that would be necessary, but one can do it easily enough if they wished.

      • TriPowerVette

        +Pantera1973 –

        1) If Elliot’s Pantera had had a smaller steering wheel, I could have gotten in to it.

        2) The guy pictured above desperately needs a Gurney bulge.

    • James Mitchell

      Don’t know what car you were in but it wasn’t a Pantera. While they were very low to the ground, they were not at all hard to get into. I had a 72 for about 10 years, and being the same size as you, I found the doors wide and not at all as cramped as the Europa you reference. Check out the specs and you will see the Pantera is a good 4 inches wider than the Europa and doesn’t have the extra wide door sills of the Europa.

      • Pantera1973

        Exactly. Panteras are very easy to get into; MUCH easier than my C3 and C4 Corvettes were.

        I tried to get into a Lotus Europa one time & there was no way I could fit that tiny thing; it was ridiculous.

  5. Jim

    I own three Pantera’s and am 6′ tall. I’ve never had a problem getting into any of them.

    One day soon, these cars will be near six figures just for a project. This is a fairly good deal if you have skills.

    • TriPowerVette

      +Jim – Seriously? How the heck do you do it? I couldn’t get in with a shoehorn.

      • Jim

        Normally, I plant my ass in the seat first then swing my legs in one at a time. I’ve also slid in with a leg first but my sciatica doesn’t like it. Getting old sucks, lol.

    • TC

      Jim, as we say with a lot of the popular European cars, you don’t get in them, you put them on !

      • Jim

        I like that one, gonna use it.

      • TriPowerVette

        +TC – Or… their engineers were putting us on…

    • john chump

      But the Europa twin cam would beat your Pantera in the 1/4 mile. :p

  6. Dick Johnson

    It’s really easy to get into… if you’re an orangutan. And an Italian one at that.

  7. Robert Clark

    THIS is a very over priced parts car. The undefined amount of missing “smalls” and the condition of what remains should cause involuntary convulsions and weakness in the knees. A running DeT with fixable uni-body and panel damage (but otherwise good shape) is in the price range this guy is asking. Something about Craigslist seems to bring the weird out of the woodwork.

  8. Maestro1

    Not this one.

    • Michael D.

      I purchased a new 1971 Pantera in December, 1972 for $11,000 dollars.The color was metallic Bronze. Beautiful car. Sold it in 1984 for $25,000 to buy a 1972 Dino 246GT Euro for $20,000 that a friend of mine brought from Italy. The Dino is in first class cosmetic condition inside and out, runs strong and fun to drive. It’s the best automotive investment I ever made.

  9. Peter Pentz

    This has always been by No 1 pain with classic cars.
    I am also right on 6′, although in my advancing years more like 5′ 11″, and know the excruciating problem of getting into cars like this.
    The problem is our long gangly legs that argue with the steering wheel and battle to get placed between the pedals and the seat back.
    The problem isn’t strictly limited to the Italian cars. I own a 1959 MGA and a 1969 Jaguar E type, and both are swines to get in and out of, and rather uncomfortable in position when driving with your legs splayed either side of the steering wheel.
    My approach is to slide my right leg (both LHD) in to the far right of the wheel as I sit in the seat, then grab my left leg under my knee and pull it towards my chest, swing my foot into the foot well, and then slide it under the dash.
    Very undignified, but all is forgiven once the engine is fired up ……
    Neither my Lotus Cortina, nor my Escort Twin-Cam share this problem – at least Ford got one thing utterly right.
    My Cooper S with 2″ seat mount extensions though is rather like getting into a wet suit – you don’t get in it, you put it on, but its a different driving philosophy that demands you driving it (enjoyably) like a bear in a toy car – no such thing as cruising it, you need to drive it only on twisty back roads to maximize enjoyment :-)

    This problem actually didn’t stop in the early 70’s. When I first got to the US I just had to have a Mustang Cobra. Didn’t notice on the test drive, but the seat didn’t quite go far enough back to accommodate my frame – needed just 1/2″ extra. The result was a very uncomfortable seating position that either resulted in cramps in my legs or a painful backache, dependent on how I sat in the seat.
    How do people who are 6’4″ or more manage ?

    The problem seems to have dissipated in recent years, as the US and EU manufacturers discovered that the average male height is now around 5’10” +, and not 5’8″ as they originally assumed..

    • TriPowerVette

      +Peter Pentz – Have had and driven many MGA’s, no problem. Owned two XK-E’s (one was roughly #283,4, or 5 ever built – more on that, if you want a Jaguar E-Type tutorial). Both were cake to get into and and out of (although I do relate to the legs splayed position), and, for that matter, offset left.

      My brother is 2 inches taller than I, and I remember him removing the front bench seat from his 1970 GS455 Convertible, and welding 2 extension strips onto the seat runners, so he could get some leg room.

      Living in Arizona, I was grateful when they realized that a heat wave was not three 85 degree days in a row, and finally decided to put A/C in their high performance models. Heck, Dodge even uses the A/C to cool the intake charge in the new 9 second (*ghasp*) Demon!

      My, how times have changed.

  10. Jim

    You gotta just love how some of the same people that complain this Italian exotic/muscle car is overpriced are mostly the same people that were complaining not too long ago when these cars were in the 20’s for a nice one.

    I guess that’s why only wise investors become wealthy in this sport and the rest spend their time dreaming about what they used to be able to buy these cars for.

  11. gaspumpchas

    A local Lincoln Mercury dealer here in NY sold these; I remember there were 5 of them in the shop at one time waiting for transaxles. Really cool lookers/ Good luck to the new owner!

  12. Bruce

    Before I send out the negative waves I wish to state that I find the Pantara to be one of the best pieces of eye candy on four wheels. The performance was great for the day and not bad today. An excellent idea that needed more refinement and just a slightly bigger chassis.

    The bad is that the materials of the body are about the worst that you can find. Cars of this era from Italy had Russian Steel, BAD Russian steel. That is why there are so few Alfas and Fiats around from this same time frame. Rust is a critical problem with these cars. Panels are available but the are both expensive to purchase and install. The electrics are not bad for the time and the mechanical bits including transmission, engine and suspension are solid are seldom of any problem.

    My real problem with the Pantara is the seating position. I have no trouble getting in and out but to drive that car for any length of time is truly painful. The peddles are moved towards the center of the car to clear the front wheel wells and the steering wheel is off set about half as much to the out side of the car from the center of the drivers seat. It bothers me far more than most because of numerous accidents in cars and airplanes over the years but about 15 minutes is all I can stand before I have to get out and walk around for a while.

    I have an Europa and Esprit and have no problems driving them for hours or until I need to gas up. The Pantara for me is automotive art of the highest order . If you can fit into one and can stand to drive it, go for it. There are comments that they are low priced for now and as a long term collector I agree. They have a huge up side. If you have the skills all the parts are available including the bumpers. Take your time and make it as perfect as possible and you will have something that will be amazing.

    The last thought is that there is something very special about caring for automotive art such as this. The only comparison I have used to make this easier to understand is the difference between power boating and sail boating. Any fool with money can purchase a power boat but to successfully sail a boat with wind power takes commitment and skill. Caring for classic cars is similar you park an old Ferrari or Ford next to a new one and the old one will bring far more attention then the new one. That old car tells the world that you are wiling to care for something and you are wiling to put in effort into making it last. That means far more to most people they they are aware of. Making this Pantara into a jewel will be worth it to someone. Just make it as perfect and as beautiful as you can and then share that beauty with the world around you.

    • HARDBALL

      Bruce, I too had the same problem with the pedals and the steering wheel. I remember Hot Rod magazine did a comparison with the 1973 SD Trans Am and the 1973 Pantera. Their conclusion was that for half the money the Trans Am is twice the car. I might add roomier too!

      • Jim

        Even though I totally love the early SD TA’s, it’s literally like comparing a Camaro to a Diablo, not even in the same ballpark.

      • TC

        And Hardball, you won’t get gravel rash on your arse from being too low to the ground!

  13. VictorAnderson

    Soo…$37,900 for the car, and at least $40,000 to fix and probably more than that.. Or – just go about 30 miles south and pick one of these two…
    https://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/cto/d/1972-detomaso-pantera/6359796708.html
    https://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/cto/d/1973-detomaso-pantera/6359109534.html

    This guy has a car (or what’s left of one) worth $10,000 to $12,000

    • Jim

      A) Haven’t seen a $10-$12k project Pantera for quite a few years now and if I did, I’d buy every single one of them. I’ve seen a bare shell go for close to that but that’s it, so good luck with that.

      B) You never know what you’re getting with a finished car and the tax/title costs are a check to the state gov that isn’t fun to write., not to mention the annual reg costs, at least here in Commifornia.

      C) There is the time/money to restore but if you have skills, you’ll know exactly what you have and the bragging rights over just buying a car is monumental. Most any yahoo can go out and buy a car, it takes a special kind of guy to build a car which makes him a real car guy.

      D) Nothing saying you can’t offer this guy cash and walk away with a better deal but then again, you could probably do that to the other two you’ve referenced. All decent deals in their own right.

  14. EJB

    I had a Pantera Matchbox as a kid, it was one of my favorites.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong:
    I had thought I had read that the chassis sat bare outside the factory before assembly that’s why Panteras were prone to rusting.

  15. jeffrey sackley

    Its always best to be the one who takes it apart with pictures and bag and tag everything….to try and figure out what goes where would be a nightmare.
    Even so, when i did my 69 AMX i forgot to take pictures of one section under the hood, front radiator support and where wires went, had to go look at a complete car to see whats what.

  16. Jay E.

    So gas Monkey looks for a month and cant find a builder quality car like this one. Finally buys near perfect one for $125,000.00 and proceeds to hack it up into a custom. Is this all just TV drama, or are really nice cars being wrecked for TV, while ones like this that can be modified are left behind?
    I too drove a Pantera in the late 70’s. The execution did NOT match the promise, not even close.

  17. lowbusman

    It doesn’t look too bad for rust by looking at the pictures,but a personal inspection would be needed! All the parts can be bought new from numerous vendors. Prices will continue to climb, as there are more buyers than cars. I am always asked if I want to sell mine. I can’t sell the fun I have with it! The seller will get his price!

    • Simon

      Beautiful car,such a great stance.where was the photo taken lower mainland?i miss BC,living in Asia some years now.

      • lowbusman

        Lands End Rd. Sidney B.C. . Looking across to Salt Spring Island.

  18. rod

    I don’t feel the small complaints about creature comfort or difficulty in ingress/egress bear much weight in the value of an exotic. After all, most of us won’t ever own one, that’s what makes them exotic, and those that do, will take them 5 miles down the road to a car show for everyone else to ogle and drool over, without letting on if the car is actually enjoyable to drive.

    From the few stories Ive read of actual test rides, one of my past daydreams (Lamborghini Countach) was actually quite horrible to drive (terrible shifter) but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming. Owners may know the truth, but they’re not talking, that would only pop some dreamer’s bubble and lower his sale value :)

    Like something else curvy I admire, the Pantera is best viewed from behind (not my car. Darn)

    • Jim

      I’ve been an owner for many years and currently own several exotics and can tell you that I could care less what others think and I specifically don’t take them to car shows for many reasons, mostly because of complainers. I also drive them quite a bit further then down the road. The reality is that you’ll mostly only hear complaints from people who have never owned these vehicles, mainly because it helps them justify their reasons for not working hard enough to gain the extra income to buy such a luxury.

      • rod

        Well, the only thing I’d take exception to is the ‘working hard enough to buy such a luxury’ thing :) Some of us could easily afford a few more luxury toys on the yard, but I prefer to invest in things that produce income AND appreciate in value like revenue property, rather than things that just appreciate in value. YMMV.

      • Jim

        Owning income property is a great investment and it’s usually the source of funds for most car enthusiast, myself included. Having a well rounded portfolio of investments is best, however, you can’t drive your property or stock certs around. I get a certain amount of enjoyment from looking at my balance sheet but nothing like working on or driving some of my cars.

      • TriPowerVette

        +Jim – Take it from me, they don’t drive their 98 point cars around, either.

        I have a friend with a 396 Corvette. One time he called me up and said “I just spent $4000 on correct-er parts. I challenge you to tell me where.” My answer was, “If I had just spent $4000 on my 396, you wouldn’t recognize it.”

        Needless to say, he has driven it maybe 1000 miles in the last 20 years.

        There is the other type, though (my brother). He spends ALL of his spare time bringing his jewel back from the brink. When he is done, it is as near perfect as a material item can be. After that, does he drive it? NO! He sells it to fund the next huge black hole of money and time.

        For me, it is enough to get them back to acceptable driver condition. Then I drive them. However; I am in the minority. Most either build, then project over, they sell. or else they store in perfectly preserved exquisiteness, forever.

        Sigh.

      • Jim

        This sport is full of all types, some drive them, some don’t, some restore them, some don’t. I have driver cars, speculation cars and investment grade cars. They each have their use and I enjoy them all. I actually get more fun out of restoring them at my age than driving them. The key is to know your purchase/investment well, that will ensure that your money is safe.

    • TriPowerVette

      +rod – I don’t usually like modifications to Panteras, since the design is so perfect as delivered. I have seen the ugliest wings, flares of every type, and various scoops added to this masterpiece, and all just make me sad.

      That said; the flares and wheels on the example in your picture take the design to a new level. That is one beautiful Italian.

      BTW – I prefer a front view of the curves… on the Pantera, too.

      • OA5599

        Totally agree. Beautiful as is.

        Doing wholesale mods to the Pantera body design is like adding strings to a Stradivarius.

      • TriPowerVette

        +OA5599 – More like smashing the Stradivarius against a wall. Gave you a thumbs up.

  19. Karguy James

    I remember when these were brand new. Dean Sellers Ford in Detroit had a white one with the price of “$10,000” in white shoe polish on the front windshield.

    I was fortunate to have one for a brief period later in life. Interesting note: At about 140mph, the front end likes to lift decreasing front wheel contact with the road around curves. Scared the crap out of me.

  20. Pete

    ” Smalls ” yeah somebody has been watching way to much American Pickers and trying to sound all cool like Frank. LMAO.

  21. Tyler

    “You’re killing me Smalls!”

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