WHO REMEMBERS THE De Tomaso PANTERA?
The car was designed by American designer Tom Tjaarda and replaced the De Tomaso Mangusta. Unlike the Mangusta, which employed a steel backbone chassis, the Pantera was a steel monocoque design, the first instance of De Tomaso using this construction technique. The Pantera logo included a version of Argentina's flag turned on its side with a T-shaped symbol that was the brand used by De Tomaso's Argentinian cattle ranching ancestors.
The car made its public debut in Modena in March 1970 and was presented at the 1970 New York Motor Show a few weeks later. Approximately a year after that production Panteras started finding their way into the hands of customers and production had already been ramped up to a remarkable (by the standards of Modena-built exotica) 3 per day.
The curious slat-backed seats which had attracted comment at the New York Show were replaced by more conventional body-hugging sports-car seats in the production cars: leg-room was generous but the pedals were off-set and headroom was insufficient for drivers above approximately 6 ft. (ca. 183 cm) tall. Reflecting its makers' transatlantic ambitions, the Pantera came with an abundance of standard features which appeared exotic in Europe, such as electric windows, air conditioning and even "doors that buzz when ... open". By the time the Pantera reached production, the interior was in most respects well sorted, although resting an arm on the central console could lead to inadvertently activating the poorly located cigarette lighter.
The first 1971 Panteras were powered by a Ford 351 cu in (5.8 L) V8 engine that produced 330 hp (246 kW; 335 PS). 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 competitor products.
The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta was also used for the Pantera: a passenger in an early Pantera recorded that the mechanical noises emanating from the transaxle were more intrusive than the well restrained engine noise. Another Italian exotic that shares the ZF transaxle is the Maserati Bora, also launched in 1971 though not yet 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 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds according to Car and Driver.
In the summer of 1971 a visitor to the De Tomaso plant at Modena identified two different types of Pantera awaiting shipment, being respectively the European and American versions. From outside, the principal differences were the larger tail lamps on the cars destined for America along with addition of corner marker lamps. Not being a cost-accountant but a journalist, the visitor was impressed by the large number of cars awaiting shipment: in reality spending the best part of a year under dust covers in a series of large hangars probably did nothing for the cash-flow of the business or the condition of some of the cars by the time they crossed the Atlantic.
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