1972 DeTomaso Pantera Pre-L - Owned by Steve Faris
In the early ’70s, Ford Motor Company entered into an agreement with Alejandro DeTomaso to produce a mid-engine sports car to compete with Ferrari and to be sold through Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. The Pantera hit the U.S. market with “cutting-edge” good looks styled by Ghia, and featured a full monocoque chassis built around a Ford 5.7 liter, 351 cid “Cleveland” V-8 engine. It was an instant classic. Federal regulations effectively put an end to the Pantera, but today, after nearly 40 years, the Pantera is considered one of the great exoticars and has become a highly coveted collector vehicle.
This car spent its whole life in California until I acquired it 8 years ago. I did change the wheels and tires to give it a little better stance. I put 245/45ZR16 Michelin Pilots on the front and 335/35ZR17s on the rear. The Billet rims are a Boyd Coddington design just for the Panteras, which made a huge difference in handling, too. Since the drive train is a 351 Cleveland, it makes it nice because parts are readily available. However, the ZF Transmission in these cars are is quite the opposite. In some cases, the transmission alone is worth about 1/3 of the car. You have to keep in mind that in 1972, the average new car was around $3,000. So when the Pantera was introduced with a base price starting around $11,000, it was a bit up there. A new Ferrari was $23,000. Every once in awhile, I have to step back and remember that this car is almost 40 years old and has the timeless styling that gives it such beautiful lines. Very few cars look good from every angle as the Pantera does.
There is a difference between a fast car and a quick car. Hell, a Volkswagen Beetle will give it a run from light to light. Get it on the freeway and it’s a whole different world. You don’t really notice the speed inching up on the 200 mph speedometer. At around 100 mph, it becomes very comfortable. At 130 mph, you think to yourself this is just stupid. Slow down. The 5-speed shifts smooth and the car handles like a go-cart. The faster you go, the more respect you have to give it. Being a mid-engine car, the respect factor really comes into play when you exit a freeway ramp at a speed that would make Grandma’s skirt fly up. If you back off, it can come around on you pretty quick and put you facing your followers. Dive into the corner and keep it straight and you’ll find you want to get back in line for that ride again and again.