Jefferson and I decided to take along the digital camera this morning. Even though we were only going to he dentist, you never know what might happen along the way. After the dental visit, we decided to hit the local Wal-Mart to exchange the spray can for semi-gloss instead of gloss. Just after turning off of Route 2 and heading South on Heisley Road, we saw the Mystery Car in the turn lane — a 1970's DeTomasa Pantera! I've only seen two of these in person. So this called for a change in plans. Wal-Mart could wait!
We were too far away from the turn lane and had cars behind us, so we ended up going through the light and zipping through McDonald's parking lot. But where was the car? "Hey! I think that's it up ahead. It turned left near Home Depot!" Sure enough, after driving slowly past a few rows of cars, we found it parked next to a curb in the Home Depot parking lot. As the driver walked toward the store's entrance, I slowly drove around and parked next to it.
As you can see in the pictures, this is a short, sporty car. But you can also tell by the size of the rear wheels (335 17's) that it must have some serious power behind the seats. Yes, the Pantera was a mid-engine, rear wheel drive exotic powered by a Ford 351 Cleveland "mated to a ZF fully synchronized 5-speed transaxle with limited slip, and rated at 310 horsepower"1. "The 1971 Pantera could accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds according to Car and Driver."2 Not bad.
According to some, Ford imported the cars from Italy to combat Ferrari and Corvette. They were sold by Mercury and Lincoln dealership from 1971 to 1974 after which Ford and DeTomasa went their separate ways. The Pantera continued to be produced in Europe until 1994, concluding a remarkable 24 year run. However, there are plenty of pre-owned models to be had still today if the price is right.3
1 Pantera Club
2 Wikipedia's De Tomaso Pantera
3 Panteras for sale at PIMotorsports