This De Tomaso Pantera Makes Anywhere Better
Owner: Jeff Connelly
Year, Make, and Model: 1972 De Tomaso Pantera
Location: Ventura, California
Photographer: Jeff Law
The Pantera is nothing if not flamboyant. It’s rock-and-roll on wheels! And it was born the same year and month I was. Handling…ok. Brakes…well, barely. However, it’s got both torque and animal magnetism to spare, enough for a fleet of 308s.
After looking for years in the usual places, an ad for this car turned up on an enthusiast site on a Friday afternoon. A brief conversation with the owner was enough for me to take a red eye to Detroit, rent a Lincoln (I’m not some barbarian), drive to Traverse City (only one speeding ticket), view the car, buy the car, race back to Detroit to catch the evening flight. I was home in time for breakfast, owner of a new Pantera. The car was off the internet within eight hours of being posted. Of course I brought a dispassionate inspector with me, someone who has no problem walking away from a car (I think he likes it actually). But even he was excited.
Ultimately, I bought this particular Pantera because of its originality, long term ownership and obvious care the car received. I’m the third owner. I bought it from a retired Ford engineer crucial in the 351 Cleveland project who himself purchased the car in 1973. I’m told the original owner was Edsel Ford Jr.
Mechanically the car is interesting, unique and original, all at once. The Ford engineer (second owner) was using the car as somewhat of a test mule for Ford performance parts. The engine actually uses Boss heads and a custom intake built by Ford that never went into production.
Overall, the car is very original including paint and interior. It required the normal Pantera things when I bought it; steering rack bushings, tie rod ends and ball joints, rear wheel bearings, a rear main seal (Clevelands are notorious for leaks due to the large main seal diameter), clutch, etc. While we had the car apart, we removed the dash and had it re-glued (not re-covered). The suspension bushings were changed on all corners and the brakes rebuilt as well. Finally, I had the AC converted to R134 the right way with evaporator, compressor, condenser and hoses for R134. I realize the AC compromises originality a bit but the cars are unbearably hot otherwise.
While I don’t come from a car crazy family, I was obsessed with wheeled transport from my earliest memory. Not being a mechanic myself, it helps that I work with enthusiasts who know good cars from bad and how to get things done.
Unfortunately, my demanding work schedule doesn’t allow time for the trips I would otherwise make, but let me tell you, driving the car anywhere makes anywhere a hell of a lot better!
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