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de Tomaso Pantera

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Ford wanted an European car company. Up to this time each effort to acquire one had been thwarted. The relationship with de Tomaso was a natural fit. The Pantera was the child of this relationship.

The Pantera was not a Ford designed car. It was solely designed by de Tomaso and his people. Tom Tjaarda was the lead stylist (who also designed the Ferrari 365 GT California.) It was named after the Italian word for Panther. Ford engineers got involved only in the areas of mass production and cost analysis, not design. This turned out to be a pretty fatal oversight.

In 1970 Ford and de Tomaso formed de Tomaso of America. European marketing were retained by de Tomaso, in America Ford offered the cars through its Lincoln Mercury dealers beginning in 1971. This lack of design oversigith caused a lot of problems for Ford and the Lincoln Mercury dealers. There were structural problems, the engines tended to overheat, the air conditioners under cooled. After two years of production the partnership wasn’t working. New federal regulations caused the car to start to become expensive to produce. The lack of reliability in the car was a huge headache for LM dealers. In 1974, the marriage was off. Ford and de Tomaso separated. de Tomaso keep the Italian manufacturing and continued to produce Panteras. Ford closed down de Tomaso of America and Vignale but kept Ghia. Ford has acquired 84% of his company, then gave it back to him three years later.

But the Pantera was an awesome car despite the issues. Imagine walking into a Lincoln Mercury dealer in 1973 and seeing a Pantera setting on the floor. I remember doing exactly that. The Pantera was beyond sexy. Few European cars were offered in the US and here was one on a Ford LM dealership.

The Pantera evolved and was produced for almost 20 years. The logo on the right is the de Tomaso car logo.

Many of the cars in the US were upgraded by their owners to fix the inherit issues with overheating and structure. It evolved into the GTS -5 Super car.