Details & description
No student of automotive history can deny Ford Motor Company president Lee Iacocca (the “father of the Mustang”) got things done the way that he wanted. He was a man who fostered bold new ideas and had the clout to turn them into reality. Among his wildest notions was that of a mid-engine supercar that could be sold by a Ford dealer, cooked into being with his great friend and former Argentinean racing driver Alejandro de Tomaso, in a storied collaboration with noted sports car designer Tom Tjaarda on behalf of respected Italian coach builder Ghia.
The resulting De Tomaso Pantera was built in Italy and sold in the United States through Lincoln-Mercury dealers with a full factory warranty. It combined the dead-reliable 351 Cleveland V-8 (as mounted in the Ford GT) and American-style comforts—including power windows and air conditioning—with such European performance features as a ZF transaxle from Germany, power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering. Simply put, it was the best of all possible sports car worlds and it cost considerably less (approx. 11.000,00€) than a comparable Ferrari (Daytona 24.000,00€) ; a Maserati Ghibli (26.000,00€) or Lamborghini Miura (25.0000,00€). The Pantera's monocoque uni-body combined captivating coachwork designed by Ghia (Tjaarda) and a mid-engine chassis designed by De Tomaso (Dallara). The Pantera had the qualities of both an Italian sports car and a muscle car, it was beautiful and at the same time brutish.
The first Panteras borrowed the pushbutton door operating mechanism from the preceding DeTomaso sports car, the Mangusta. Because the door operating mechanism is peculiar to these early models, they are referred to as pushbutton model Panteras (pulsante in Italian) . The pushbutton Panteras were fully assembled at the Vignale Carrozzeria in Torino (Turin) Italy by small teams of assemblers rather than on an assembly line. The first pushbutton Pantera was chassis #1001. The last pushbutton Pantera, based on chassis number rather than build date, is currently thought to be chassis # 1382, built in April 1971. Total pushbutton production is therefore 382 units.
The pushbutton Panteras, assembled at the Vignale Carrozzeria in Torino, were ready for sale to the public no earlier than January 1971, just 4 months before the earliest Pre-L Panteras rolled off the assembly line at the DeTomaso assembly plant outside Modena.
Excepting the earliest prototype Panteras, the pushbutton models were assembled during the 1971 model year, encompassing the months of July 1970 through April 1971. Pushbutton Pantera assembly essentially ceased when the assembly line in Modena went into operation, as Vignale production was shifted to supplying the assembly line in Modena. Although considered 1971 models, several pushbutton coaches were left unassembled when the production line in Modena went into operation. These unfinished pushbuttons were eventually assembled in 1972.
Shipments of Panteras began reaching the US in May of 1971. Approximately 96 pushbutton Panteras were among the first Panteras shipped to the US. The other 286 pushbutton Panteras were sold by DeTomaso in markets outside North America, predominantly in Europe.
Today, the Pantera is widely heralded as the improbable idea that both Detroit and Torino / Modena got right and as one of the definitive and instantly recognisable supercars of the decade that birthed the category.
This De Tomaso Pantera with chassis number THPNNK01173 is one of the 286 first generation push button Panteras sold and delivered in Europe. In fact, the car had in its whole history only 2 Italian owners. It still has the original engine and ZF gearbox. The interior is - with the exception of the carpets - completely original. Even the engine cover trunck (to create extra storage space in the car) is original and has the hand written “1173”.
Typical for the first generation pushbutton Panteras were also the 2 spoke Ferrero steering wheel, the single slot magnesium Campagnola wheels, the difficult to access fuel cell and lid …. All those original 1970 components are still on the car !
During 2014-2015, the car was restored in Modena and had a complete mechanical overhaul. The body was repainted in its original grey colour. The Ghia designer Tom Tjaarda signed the dashboard of the car in 2014 during one of his visits to Italy.
"The De Tomaso Pantera is very easy to drive. The mid-engine chassis developped by Dallara for De Tomaso Modena S.p.A., the high couple powerfull Ford Cleveland engine and the robust ZF 5-gear gearbox is - after almost 50 years - giving a feeling of driving a modern GT car. Easy, precise, direct, powerful and exiting." says Patrick Van Glabeke, SRO Blancpain Series race driver.
"This is without question one of the most if not THE most original De Tomaso Pantera in the world. Not molested by after market “upgrades”, “modern” interiors and shiny engine parts. No : just plain original and period correct, as they were made by Alejandro de Tomaso in Modena in 1970".