Monday, 25 June 2018

De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Pantera

Elvis Presley shot his Pantera ... when it would not start! To be fair to 'the King', he was not the only owner to lose patience with the car. The Pantera did have a bit of a 'rep'. Build quality - or the lack of it - was a topic which came up a lot. Specifically, rust and overheating. But, 10,000 Panteras were built. Surely, the car must have had had its good points?

Ghia is one of the most illustrious names in coach-building history. The company was owned by Alejandro De Tomaso - an Argentinian business magnate, who had moved to Italy. So revered was Ghia that Ford of North America sought to acquire it. De Tomaso did a deal with them. He would sell them the rights to Ghia - if they agreed to distribute the Pantera through their huge dealership network. Fittingly, the car was powered by a 5.8-litre Ford V8. The automotive giant took the bait ... not a wise move, as it turned out! To begin with, things were looking good. Ford shifted 4,000 Panteras, in short order. But then the rot set in ... literally! It was not long before the Pantera was becoming a liability. Ford were snowed under by customer complaints! By 1974, they had had enough. They called time on any more imports.

But, it was not all bad! The Pantera's top speed was a more than acceptable 160mph. The car's mid-mounted engine meant handling was excellent. And should anything go awry with that engine, the breakers' yards were full of V8s. As for the styling ... it was certainly striking! Ultimately, De Tomaso was a maverick. Before the Pantera, he had 'fostered' the Vallelunga, and the Mangusta. Both, automotive 'problem children'! In later years, he would take over the reins at Maserati and Innocenti. In the end, though, the Pantera stayed in production for 25 years. That would seem to suggest that for all its flaws, the Pantera had a bit of hidden genius. As for Elvis ... he was probably just having a bad day!

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