Remembering The 1972 De Tomaso Pantera Car

1972 De Tomaso Pantera Car

The year is 1972 and Italy’s De Tomasa Automobil introduces American-born car designer Tom Tjaarda’s “Briggs Dream Car” which we otherwise know as the 1972 De Tomasa Pantera Car. Pantera means “panther” among the Italians, which is the home location of De Tomasa Car Company. From 1971 until 1992, the Pantera enjoyed over twenty years’ worth of production with over 7000 models made. Its design is courtesy of the Italian design firm known as Ghia with Tom Tjaarda replacing the De Tomasa Mangusta lineup. The manufacturing technique of the Pantera used a steel Monolique design, which was the first time the Italian-based car production company would use it. This car’s design piqued the interest of Ford Motors enough for them to begin importing the Panteras as early as late 1971. The appeal of this model was the push-button door handles and Carrozzeria Vignale bodies. During the first year, 1007 Pantera cars were brought to Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury American dealerships, with 150 of them classified as Pantera GTS models. What set the GTS apart from the rest of its Pantera lineup were the aggressive flares on the fender, plus the flat black accents. The entire 1972 Pantera series saw many modifications, including an engine replacement in favor of the 4-bolt Main Cleveland that featured a lower compression ratio of 8.6:1. This was necessary in order to make this Italian import comply with America’s set of emissions standards. It also provided better fuel economy as opposed to the original 11:1 compression ratio the original lineup, and European approved, Panteras started out with. However, as a means to compensate for the power loss due to the reduction compression, a more aggressive camshaft was installed that featured the same lift and duration as Ford’s 428 Cobra Jet’s factory performance. The factory exhaust header previously used on the Mangusta was now in the Pantera models, as well as power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes, and rack and pinion steering. When tested, the 1972 De Tomaso Pantera reached from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds.

The Era of Pantera

From 1971 until 1973, over 6000 De Tomaso Pantera cars were imported from Italy to America through an agreement made with Ford, who bought all of De Tomaso’s shares to gain the entire production process among the Italian company’s three Modena, Italy factories. The Pantera series was the most prolific lineup of cars De Tomaso Automobil ever produced, thanks to Ford’s investments. However, when the oil crisis began in October 1973 after the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries placed an embargo against the United States, this caused Ford to discontinue its investment in the Pantera series, at least as far as the American market was concerned. The working relationship between Ford and De Tomaso with the Pantera lineup did continue, but now only catering to the European and Asian markets. This resulted in a vastly reduced production of the Pantera series from three cars per day made to less than 100 cars made per year. As of 1993, the Pantera lineup came to an end to make way for the De Tomaso Guara series. In total, from 1971 until 1993, 7,260 De Tomasa Pantera models were produced.

1972 De Tomaso Pantera Era

Ford’s involvement with De Tomaso Automobil saw two distinct versions of the 1972 Pantera models. With the demands of the American and European markets vastly different from each other, the American-approved Pantera lineup had to comply with the regulations laid out by USA’s standards. This meant the Panteras imported onto American soil had to stick with the 8.6:1 compression ratio while the more liberal Europeans allowed 11:1. In America, the summer of 1972 saw Ford introduce to American motorists the Pantera L, which is also known as the Pantera Lusso. This particular lineup featured a large black front bumper that included a built-in airfoil as a means to reduce the frontal lift when charging at high speeds. By doing this, it allowed the 5.8-liter 351 “Cobra Jet” Cleveland Engine to have a 330 horsepower output at 5400 rpm. There were also additional factory upgrades that dealt with the issues addressed regarding Pantera’s earlier models. From 1971 until 1974, the 1972 De Tomaso Pantera series was in high demand by the American market, especially when they took notice of the European’s GTS version with their 1972 models, which was considerably sportier in appearance and performance. Even a few Americans managed to import through the grey market the 1972 De Tomaso Pantera GTS models. In Europe, De Tomaso produced the 1972 Pantera GTS models to meet Group 3 racing’s needs by bringing forth a 345 horsepower at 6400 rpm with the 11:1 ratio. The Europeans were also privy to the larger Holley carburetors, a forged aluminum intake manifold, and exhaust headers that allowed better flow. The GTS also had wheels that were considerably wider than the American models, as well as a more aggressive steering rack set up, a ventilated braking system, and adjusted spring rates and gear ratios. Because the popularity and demand of the GTS were so great in America, Ford began to introduce government-approved GTS models into the Pantera lineup as of early 1974.

Breaking Down the 1972 Tomaso Pantera

  • Engine Location – Mid
  • Drive Type – Rear Wheel
  • Body/Chassis – Steel Unibody 0-60: 5.5 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 14 seconds
  • Top Speed: 158 miles per hour (255 kilometers per hour)
  • 5.0-liter V8 Engine
  • Displacement – 351.9 cubic inches (5766 cubic centimeters)
  • Power Output – 330 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
  • Torque – 325 lbs-ft @ 3400 rpm
  • Bore – 4.0 inches (102 millimeters)
  • Stroke – 3.5 inches (89 millimeters)
  • Compression (US standard) – 8.6:1
  • Valvetrain – 16 OHV (2 valves per cylinder)
  • 5-Gear Manual ZF
    First Gear Ratio- 2.42:1
  • Second Gear Ratio- 1.47:1
  • Third Gear Ratio- 1.09:1
  • Fourth Gear Ratio – 0.846:1
  • Fifth Gear Ratio – 0.705:12-Door Coupe
  • 2-Person Capacity
  • Length – 168.1 inches (427 centimeters)
  • Width – 72 inches (182.9 centimeters)
  • Height – 43.3 inches (110 centimeters)
  • Wheelbase – 99 inches (251.5 centimeters)
  • Front Track – 57 inches (144.8 centimeters)
  • Rear Track – 57.5 inches (146.1 centimeters)
  • Ground Clearance – 4.7 inches (11.9 centimeters)
  • Front Suspension – Upper/lower unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, and anti-roll bar
  • Rear Suspension – Upper/lower unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, and anti-roll bar
  • Steering – Rack and Pinion
  • Front Tires – 185/70VR15
  • Rear Tires – 215/70VR15
  • Wheels – Campagnolo Magnesium Alloy

The Financials

At the time of production, the base model of a 1972 De Tomaso Pantera car started at $9,000 USD. AutopiaLA’s YouTube presentation provides good footage of a restored Pantera to one of its rarest color finish that is connected with the Porsche series. Nowadays, a decent condition 1972 De Tomaso Pantera has been known to fetch a price of $50,000 USD. The top-notch Panteras in mint condition has been sold as high as $250,000 USD.

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