This is a 1971 De Tomaso Pantera powered by a 351 cubic inch Ford Cleveland V8 mated to a ZF 5-speed manual transaxle. It’s received some recent work, including body repairs, but requires finishing by its new owner.

The Pantera was one of the truly affordable 1970s-era supercars, and its appeal was such that it remained on sale into the 1990s. When it first went on sale in 1971 it cost less than $10,000 USD, far less than the $52,000 USD asking price of the Lamborghini Countach.

Fast Facts – A De Tomaso Pantera Project Car

  • The 1971 De Tomaso Pantera featured in the article is powered by a 351 cubic inch Ford Cleveland V8 engine paired with a ZF 5-speed manual transaxle. It has undergone some recent repairs, including bodywork and an engine rebuild, but requires further finishing touches from its new owner.
  • The Pantera was one of the few affordable supercars of the 1970s, priced at less than $10,000 USD when first released in 1971. This was significantly lower than the Lamborghini Countach, which was priced at $52,000 USD when it debuted three years later. Its appeal and affordability led to its continued production into the 1990s.
  • De Tomaso Automobili was founded in 1959 by Alejandro de Tomaso, an Argentinian immigrant with Italian ancestry. After a short career in Formula One and other racing disciplines, Alejandro focused on the engineering and business aspects of motorsports, leading to the creation of De Tomaso Automobili and its line of road-legal and racing cars.
  • The Pantera you see in this article has 52,000 miles on the odometer, with 4,500 miles added under current ownership. The engine was rebuilt in 2015, involving significant work. The transmission, while functional, may require a rebuild as reverse gear engagement is problematic. The car still needs extensive work throughout but holds potential as a project for the right enthusiast.

The De Tomaso’s “Blue Collar” Supercar

The De Tomaso Pantera was developed at De Tomaso Automobili it was designed to accomplish supercar performance on a sports car budget. It was given a steel unibody rather than an exotic spaceframe chassis, it relied on a trusty Ford V8 rather than a fancy Italian V12, and its styling was done by an American – Tom Tjaarda – rather than the better-known Italian choices like Gandini or Giugiaro.

Alejandro de Tomaso in 1965

Image DescriptionThis is a picture of Alejandro de Tomaso in 1965, an important time for the company, two years after the release of their first road car and right in the midst of the development of their next car, the Mangusta. Image courtesy of De Tomaso Automobili.

De Tomaso And The Coup That Went Wrong

De Tomaso Automobili had been founded by Alejandro de Tomaso in Modena, Italy in 1959. Alejandro was an Argentinian immigrant to Italy, albeit one with Italian ancestry, who had to leave his home country after being implicated in a scheme to overthrow Argentinian President Juan Perón.

This left Alejandro’s political aspirations in tatters, but for the world of automobiles, racing, and supercars in particular, it was a fortuitous turn of events. In 1957, just two years after arriving in Italy, he had become a Formula One driver for Scuderia Centro Sud, a small team based out of Modena.

Over the course of his interesting but relatively short career as a driver Alejandro de Tomaso would compete in Formula One, Formula Two, and sports car racing. This was not to be his future however, and he found himself drawn more to the engineering, mechanical, and business side of motorsports.

The Beginnings Of De Tomaso Automobili

After founding De Tomaso Automobili in 1959 he worked alongside his small team to build prototypes and racing cars, eventually even building Formula One cars for the Williams team in 1970.


Image DescriptionAt 1/5th the price of the Lamborghini Countach, the Pantera offered remarkable value for money in the 1970s. Image courtesy of De Tomaso Automobili.

It would be in 1963 that he would release his first road-legal production car, the De Tomaso Vallelunga, and this would be the beginning of a process that would see him become a globally-recognized manufacturer.

The Vallelunga was followed by the De Tomaso Mangusta in 1967, and finally by his most famous creation, the De Tomaso Pantera, in 1971. De Tomaso would build a number of other cars, including the Longchamp, Deauville, and later the Guarà.

Alejandro would prove a remarkably adept businessman, and through the 1960s and into the 1970s he acquired both the Ghia and Vignale coachbuilding firms, the Benelli and Moto Guzzi motorcycle manufacturers, the Innocenti car company, and finally, and perhaps most impressively, he acquired Maserati.

The De Tomaso Pantera Project Car Shown Here

The car you see here is a De Tomaso Pantera from the first year of production, 1971. This car is said to have been bought by the seller’s brother-in-law in 1989. It now has 52,000 miles on the odometer, 4,500 of which are believed to have been added under current ownership.

It’s clear that the restoration work on this car has already been started, you can see the primer paint on some sections of the body that have received rust repairs. The engine, a Cleveland 351 cubic inch (5.7 liter) Ford V8, has received a rebuild by Darrell’s Automotive of Bakersfield, California in 2015.

During the engine rebuild the block was magnafluxed, honed, and decked. It received reconditioned connecting rods, a crankshaft grind, a valve job, and the cylinder heads were resurfaced. It then received new belts and ignition components, a new fuel pump, starter, and hoses.

De Tomaso Pantera Project Car 18

Image DescriptionIt’s clear that this car is going to need plenty of work to get it back into as-new condition, though it could be driven largely as it is now if the new owner isn’t too fussy.

The transmission is functional but it sounds like it will also need a rebuild, the seller notes that reverse is difficult to engage, however it’s a common ZF five-speed transaxle which means finding parts and experts to work on it shouldn’t present any real challenges.

It’s clear that this Pantera still needs a lot of work outside, inside, and mechanically, but it could make an excellent project for the right person. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Bring a Trailer.

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Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Published by Ben Branch -