The Corpus Christi Old Car Museum Auction

Lot 128
1973 De Tomaso Pantera

Selling on Saturday

1973 De Tomaso Pantera


• Very well-preserved example in excellent colors
• Bill Stroppe-built, balanced and blueprinted engine
• Original engine included and mounted on stand
• Outstanding performer with limited use since acquisition
• Ford Motor Company’s exotic car of the early 1970s

Bill Stroppe-built, balanced, and blueprinted 351 cid Ford “Cleveland” V-8 engine, four-barrel carburetor, 441 HP, ZF five-speed manual gearbox, rear transaxle, four-wheel independent suspension with wishbones, coil springs, and anti-roll bars, hydraulic four-wheel disc brakes; wheelbase: 99"

Having relocated to Italy during the late 1950s, former Argentine racing driver Alejandro de Tomaso began designing and building racing cars. His first was the sleek, race-inspired Vallelunga, debuted at the 1964 Turin Auto Show. Featuring a cutting-edge “backbone” chassis, mid-mounted Ford engine, and rear transaxle, it established De Tomaso as a marque to watch on both road and track.

While Henry Ford II had soundly defeated Ferrari in international GT-class racing with the Ford-powered Shelby Daytona Coupes capturing the FIA World Manufacturer’s Championship in 1965 and the Ford GT40s scoring the infamous 1-2-3 photo finish at Le Mans in 1966, he still desired a street-legal, Italian-styled exotic car for his company’s product portfolio. In the meantime, by 1967, De Tomaso debuted the Ford V-8 powered Mangusta (Mongoose), a mid-engine racer for the street. In 1970, Ford not only acquired De Tomaso, but also two of Italy’s finest coach building firms - Ghia and Vignale.

The Pantera (Panther) soon followed the Mangusta and it continues as the definitive supercar from De Tomaso. Aggressively styled by prominent American designer Tom Tjaarda, the Pantera was built by Ghia and propelled by a mid-mounted Ford 351 “Cleveland” V-8 engine and ZF 5-speed rear transaxle. The Pantera also marked a first for its maker with rigid steel monocoque construction. Fully-independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes rounded out the Pantera’s sophisticated mechanical package. The Pantera debuted at Modena in March 1970 and was first shown just a few weeks later at the 1970 New York Motor Show. A deal was struck for Pantera distribution into the lucrative U.S. marketplace via Lincoln-Mercury’s dealer network, with full Ford Motor Company warranty coverage included, from 1971 through 1974. Pricing was steep, but in line with contemporary European exotics at about $10,000.

Despite the teething pains associated with the launch of a new automobile, let alone an exotic, low-production sports/GT car, the Pantera was quickly refined and improved, generating favorable reports from the era’s magazine road-test editors. Predictably, the Pantera backed up its image with excellent performance, with the powerful and easily maintained Ford “Cleveland” V-8 engine tuned to propel the Pantera to mid-14-second quarter-mile times and 0-to-60 in the six-second range. However, the first energy-supply crisis, crippling insurance rates, and the early-1970s economic recession quickly doomed the project in America, with the last U.S.-bound Panteras built in 1974. Regardless, De Tomaso continued to build Panteras, with the last delivered in 1992. GT-class racing versions were campaigned in FIA Group 4 and 5 through 1993, with the Pantera steadily developed, improved, and refined throughout its run.

A thrilling find at auction, and offered in great condition, this 1973 De Tomaso Pantera was acquired by George Finley from fellow Texan Jack Pagan, whose Pagan Racing team competed in CART and IRL circles during the 1990s. The current Ford “Cleveland” V-8 engine powering the Pantera was balanced, blueprinted, and built for Mr. Pagan by none other than Ford racing legend Bill Stroppe, developing 441 horsepower for a thrilling drive and performance far beyond original parameters. The original engine is mounted on a stand and accompanies the Pantera’s sale at auction. The black-upholstered interior appears to have only been lightly and carefully used and, in addition to comprehensive instrumentation, features a classically gated shifter, updated AM-FM cassette stereo head unit and five-point racing harnesses for enhanced safety at speed. At time of cataloguing, 54,680 miles are indicated. Highly charismatic with instantly-recognizable styling that continues to age well and heightened performance, this 1973 De Tomaso Pantera is ready to enjoy and appreciate.

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