duPont REGISTRY’s De Tomaso Panteras for sale
By: Ben Greene
Before the term “hybrid” became infused with images of electric motors and large battery packs, it had a different connotation: American-European cross breeds. The reason was simple; the hand-made nature of Italian construction didn’t come cheap, but American parts did. The De Tomaso Pantera exploited this fact, offering a sexy form straight from Italy with a big, brutish American engine under the rear hood. Best of all: thanks to his collaboration with Ford, Alejandro De Tomaso was able to offer the Pantera out of Lincoln-Mercury showrooms, warranty and all, at the reasonable price of $10,000. The result was quite the little sales success (5,500–6,000 units in four model years).
Unfortunately, the Pantera had its fair share of problems—and maybe a bit more. The now-infamous story goes that Elvis Presley put a .38-caliber bullet through his door when his yellow Pantera refused to start one day. From the seats to the electrical systems to the air conditioner, the car became problematic, and Ford had its work cut out solving all the issues. With the Pantera’s design quandaries and new federal regulations looming, Ford dropped the car after 1974. De Tomaso didn’t give up. He kept the car in production until 1992—an amazing 21 years—despite a rising price resulting in slumping sales.
Italian-American hybrids dwindled soon after the oil embargo in the mid-’70s. The lure of the De Tomaso Pantera has resurfaced in such cars as the Saleen S7, but, unfortunately, the combination of supercar styling, American muscle, low price and showroom availability has not.