Designed by Ghia in Italy, the De Tomaso Pantera was their most popular model, replacing the Mangusta previously introduced in 1968. Produced from 1971 to 1992, the impressive 20-year run saw some 7,000 Panteras built.
The Pantera was an all-steel monocoque design utilizing a Ford 330 horsepower, 351 cubic-inch Cleveland V-8. Mid-mounted in the chassis and backed by a ZF five-speed transaxle, the package could accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds.
Riding on a 99-inch wheelbase at a weight of 3,123 pounds, with four-wheel independent suspension and four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes, it was quite a handler, and, thanks to the torque from the Ford V-8, it could literally eat up straightaways.
Imported to North America by the Ford Motor Company from 1971 to 1975, it was sold through Lincoln/Mercury dealers accounting for 5,500 units of the total Pantera production. After 1975, Panteras were imported by other companies, but one called AmeriSport took the Pantera to the next level. Aerodynamic spoilers and fender flares offered functional advantages and added the “wow” in the looks department.
Robert Touchette of Winnipeg is no stranger to the Pantera, having purchased his first one in 1988. In August 1993, a friend was looking to relocate and was offering to sell his ’71 Pantera, so Touchette bought the car. Recently acquired and imported from Kansas, the Pantera was only one of 130 produced in ’71 and this vehicle had been retro-fitted with the AmeriSport conversion body modifications.
After enjoying the car for a few years, he felt a refresh of the engine was in order. In 2007, the 351 Cleveland V-8 was bored .030 inches over, with a high-volume oil pump, 10-quart oil-pan, new flat-top forged pistons, a solid-lifter roller camshaft, roller rocker arms and a new set of Boss 351 closed chamber cylinder heads — topped off with an Edelbrock Torker aluminium intake manifold and aluminum water pump. Added extras include a Centerforce clutch disc and four-core radiator with dual Hurricane fans.
The Rosso Red paint and dual side-view mirrors make the Pantera look like it’s going 100 km/h even at a standstill. Rolling stock is a combination of 15-inch Campagnolo wheels measuring 10 inches wide up front and 13 inches wide in the rear wrapped in Pirelli P7 radial tires.
Inside, full black Italian-stitched interior upholstery with bucket seats, tinted glass, air conditioning and power windows round out the creature comforts.
While Touchette admits the rarity of the car leads to it not being driven much, he does try to get out with it for cruise night at the Pony Corral on Grant Avenue and to a few of the local shows. A long-standing member of the Manitoba Mustang and Ford Association, he’d like to invite everyone out to their Henry Ford Birthday Show this weekend.
The show will be held this Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rona Home & Garden Centre, 755 Panet Rd. It’s open to all makes of cars and trucks, with registration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a $10 entry fee per vehicle. All proceeds of the event will be donated to charity. Class awards will be presented and a rain date has been set aside for Sept. 17. For further information, contact Jim Parsons at 204-771-0772 or Gerry Moquin at 204-256-0772 or visit manitobamustang.org.