When was the last time you saw a '74 Pantera GTS? Images via eBay courtesy of the seller.
Every so often, we run across cars from the pages of history that are in a class of their own. The DeLorean DMC-12 and the Bricklin SV-1 immediately come to mind as examples of these. Then there’s the DeTomaso Pantera. A car built years before the other two were conceived, during a time when American muscle cars were on their way out and overpriced Italian exotics were becoming in vogue, the Pantera was a car with an identity crisis.
The cockpit, although welcoming, couldn't fit anybody over 6' tall behind the wheel.
Despite it’s Italian name and mid-engine, rear drive layout, the Pantera was more of wannabe exotic Ford than anything else. It was designed by an American, powered by a 351ci. Ford mill, and sold through Lincoln-Mercury dealerships during the first four years of it’s twenty year production run.
In fact, it was company founder and retired Formula One Italian driver, Alejandro de Tomaso, who initially proposed the idea to Carroll Shelby about building the unique super car in the first place. Unfortunately, Shelby was already satisfied keeping busy with campaigning his GT-40 race cars. So Alejandro made the deal with Ford directly, and initially, the car was a hit during the 1970 auto show season and in the dealerships.
The Pantera’s 330HP V8 offered impressive performance for its time (0-60 in 5.5, top speed of 160mph), it handled well, and thanks to it’s contemporary styling and monocoque design, it had the look of an Italian super car. On paper, it seemed to be a winner. Even Elvis Presley bought one for his then-girlfriend, Linda Thompson. He would go on to shoot the Pantera with a handgun on more than one occasion, but that’s a story for another time.
The 351ci. Ford V8 and ZF transaxle sit nicely between thee car's rear wheels.
The 1973 Oil Embargo combined with a recession slowed the Pantera’s sales to a snail’s pace, and the car was removed from the Lincoln-Mercury dealerships almost as quickly as it had arrived. Fast forward a few decades later, and the De Tomaso is a classic that collectors are clamoring for. This 1974 GTS example for instance, shows only 28,000 miles on its ticker, has undergone a complete restoration, and is for sale through a classic car dealer in Florida of the price of $65,000.
The GTS was basically a limited edition version of the regular Pantera, and this one has an interesting history of bouncing around from Germany, to Puerto Rico, and then ultimately ending up back in the States. It comes fully documented of its authenticity, and given its high price, we think its justified. Collectors are shelling out big money for late-seventies Trans Am’s these days after all.