Esoteric Exotic: 1973 DeTomaso Pantera – Sold?

by | Sep 2022 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Free For All Friday

(To stop the slideshow and expand the pictures, click on the current photograph below)

October 27, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found we’re assuming this ride “Sold?” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

The late 1960s saw the advent of a new genre of high-performance vehicles from Italy: the Exotic Car.  Angular in design, extreme in performance, and high in price, these limited-production cars from Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati adorned the walls of a young man who could not afford to park a real version in their garage.  Challenging the established Italian trio was the small independent Italian manufacturer De Tomaso, who developed and marketed the Pantera.  This white over black leather 1973 De Tomaso Pantera, originally listed in September 2022 on Craigslist in Littleton, Colorado (Denver), appears to be a nicely preserved and well-sorted example of an Italian exotic rarely seen advertised on Craigslist.

Once offered for $98,000, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is slightly below the one-year rolling average of this guide’s summary for similar Panteras imported to the U.S. between 1971 and 1974.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can navigate to each comparable car sold as a way to help you evaluate the price of the truck featured here:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $89,000 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $130,000.

Italian automobile manufacturer De Tomaso produced the mid-engine Pantera from 1971 to 1992.  Italian for “Panther,” the Pantera was the automaker’s most popular model, with over 7,000 manufactured over its twenty-year production run. More than three-quarters of the production was sold by American Lincoln-Mercury dealers from 1972 to 1975; after this agreement ended, De Tomaso kept manufacturing the car in ever smaller numbers into the early 1990s.

The Pantera was designed by the Italian design firm Carrozzeria Ghia’s American-born designer Tom Tjaarda and replaced the Mangusta. Unlike the Mangusta, which employed a steel backbone chassis, the Pantera’s chassis relied on a steel monocoque design, the first instance of De Tomaso using this construction technique. The Pantera logo included a T-shaped symbol that was the brand used by De Tomaso’s Argentinian cattle ranching ancestors,  as well as a version of the Argentinean flag turned on its side, inspired by the company’s founder, Alejandro De Tomaso, having been born and raised in Argentina.

The car debuted in Modena in March 1970 and was presented at the 1970 New York Motor Show a few weeks later.  Approximately a year later, the first production cars were sold, and production was increased to three per day.  De Tomaso sold the rights to the Pantera to Ford, who were to distribute the cars in the United States, but Alejandro De Tomaso retained the rights to market the Pantera in Europe.

The slat-backed seats which had attracted criticism at the New York Auto Show were replaced by more conventional body-hugging sports seats in the production cars: legroom was generous, but the pedals were off-set. Headroom was insufficient for drivers taller than six feet.  Reflecting its makers’ transatlantic ambitions, the Pantera came with an abundance of standard features that appeared exotic in Europe, such as electric windows and air conditioning.  By the time the Pantera reached the production stage, the interior was in most respects well sorted. However, resting an arm on the central console could lead to inadvertently activating the poorly located cigarette lighter.

The first 1971 Pantera models were powered by a 330 horsepower version of Ford’s 351 cubic inch Cleveland V8.  The high torque provided by the Ford engine reduced the need for excessive gear changing at low speeds; this made the car much less demanding to drive in urban conditions than many of the locally built offerings.

The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta also found a home in the Pantera.  Another Italian car that shared the ZF transaxle is the Maserati Bora, also launched in 1971, although not then available for sale.  Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering were all standard equipment on the Pantera. The 1971 Pantera could accelerate 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds, according to Car and Driver magazine at the time.

Late in 1971, Ford began importing the Pantera for the American market to be sold through its Lincoln-Mercury dealers. The first 75 cars were simply European imports and are known for their “push-button” door handles and hand-built Carrozzeria Vignale bodies. A total of 1,007 cars reached the United States that year. As with most Italian cars of the day, rust-proofing was minimal, and the quality of fit and finish on these early models was poor, with large amounts of body solder being used to cover body panel flaws. Subsequently, Ford increased their involvement in the production of the later cars with the introduction of precision stampings for body panels which resulted in improved overall quality.

De Tomaso made several modifications to the Pantera for the 1972 model year. A new 351 cubic inch Cleveland V8 featuring four bolt main bearing caps, a lower 8.6:1 compression ratio, a more aggressive “Cobra Jet” camshaft (featuring the same lift and duration as the 428 Cobra Jet’s factory performance cam), and a dual distributor attempted to minimize the power loss of the lower compression ratio.

De Tomaso launched the “Lusso” (luxury) Pantera L was also introduced in August 1972 as a 197212 model. For the US market, it featured a large black single front bumper that incorporated a built-in airfoil to reduce front end lift at high speeds, rather than the separate bumperettes still used abroad, as well as the Cleveland engine now having a power output of 264 horsepower at 5400 rpm. The “L” model featured many factory upgrades and updates that fixed most of the problems and issues the earlier cars experienced. It was so improved that the 1973 DeTomaso Pantera was Road Test Magazine’s Import car of the year, beating offerings from Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Porsche. In 1973 designers revamped the dashboard, deviating from two separate pods for the gauges to a unified unit with the dials angled towards the driver.

The Jay Leno’s Garage YouTube Channel features this video of a 1971 DeTomaso Pantera reviewed with Pantera expert Michael Drew:

The seller’s brief description lets the pictures sell this 1973 De Tomaso Pantera.  You’ll need to interview the seller more to understand the scope of the “new and upgraded parts” mentioned.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1973 Pantera, 351c Ford engine, 5-speed trans, many new and upgraded parts, serious buyers call for details​

Show or go: What would you do with this 1973 DeTomaso Pantera?  Please comment below and let us know!

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