The De Tomaso Pantera cannot be described as an engineering
masterpiece, nor a technology milestone. The most unique
characteristic of this car was the fact that it was the
first affordable supercar to be built.
Powered by a Ford "Cleveland" 351 (5.7 liter) V8, this
Italian-built exotic was able to offer supercar performance
at a bargain price. Dubbed "The Poor Man's Lamborghini",
the close relationship between Ford and De Tomaso saw
Ford fully back the Pantera project in order to boost
The radical thinking that went into the previous DeTomaso
model, the Mangusta, was all but forgotten when designing
the Pantera. Using a unitary steel chassis - intended
to be cheap for production - and a Detroit built pushrod
V8, this was to be a mass produced supercar.
The Pantera was not without its good points however,
which included the strong and torquey engine, a slick
ZF transaxle, sharp steering, taut handling and decent
brakes. In fact, the main drawbacks were te cramped cabin
and bad driving position.
Generous equipment levels were included to help the car
appeal to the American market, however a lack of crash-protection
and emission concerns accompanied with oil crisis eventually
led to the withdrawal from the United States in 1974.
The Pantera continued production in Europe. Most modifications
were made to cope with newer emission regulations.
The most powerful version, the GTS, appeared in the
mid 70s. The GTS had a 350 bhp V8, but was replaced
by the 300 hp GT5, which was surrounded by a handsome
body kit including spoiler and skirts to create "ground effect".
In 1983, the aerodynamic accessories were discarded in
the GT5 S, but power rose to 330hp. Strict emission controls
dramatically dropped the output to 247hp. Obviously, the
Cleveland V8 could no longer survive in the environmental-conscious
era, therefore in the 1991 revision (called Series II),
it was replaced by Mustang's electronic fuel-injected
302 cid V8.