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Shot full of flaws; Pantera was a classic supercar but riddled with quality issues: ClassicCar.

THE disgruntled king of rock, Elvis, opened fire on his supercar when it refused to start, underlining the woeful list of complaints this model racked up.

The Pantera's lifespan from 1970 to 1993 was interesting to say the least. This was an enigmatic wild child of a supercar that attracted much controversy.

It was the brainchild of Alejandro De Tomaso, an Argentinian tycoon who settled in Italy and built his first car with a Ford Cortina engine - the Vallelunga - in 1963. The Vallelunga was a failure but De Tomaso's second effort, the Mangusta, was fast, gorgeous and demanded expert driving skills. De Tomaso decided he had to get it right and make a profit with the next model, the Pantera, so he teamed up with Ford. The world giant would receive De Tomaso's Ghia coachbuilding firm in return for selling the Pantera which would be powered by a 5.8 Ford V8.

And so the die was cast for a major marketing move into the US for Pantera and Ford was to embark on a long association with the Ghia name - its mark of luxury.

However, Ford was not prepared for the complaints over many of the 4,000 Panteras sold.

Pantera - Italian for panther - employed a steel backbone chassis and could accelerate to 60mph in 5.5 seconds and was a blistering drive for its day, being capable of 160mph.

But it could not shrug off its build quality and reliability problems. Several broke down during trials and early crashtesting showed that safety cage engineering was not well understood in the 1970s.

Rust-proofing was minimal and the quality of fit and finish was poor, with large amounts of lead being used to cover body panel flaws.

In addition to being shot by Elvis, the Pantera also appeared in films including Kill Bill 2 by Quentin Tarantino.

We will never see its like again. Some would say thank goodness.

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Wild child supercar: De Tomaso Pantera.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 24, 2009
Words:327
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