De Tomaso had all the makings of a great Italian car maker. Its founder, Alejandro de Tomaso, fled his homeland in Argentina to Modena in his twenties after being linked to a plot to overthrow the Argentine government. From Italy, he’d go on to make a few cameo appearances in Formula 1, buy up a bunch of car firms like Ghia and Vignale, and start a feud with US racing legend Carol Shelby.
In fact, it’s generally thought that the Mangusta (Italian for mongoose) was an ‘up yours’ to Shelby after the two parted ways on a motorsport project, what with mongoose – an adorable, small creature – being famous for killing snakes. And while the follow-up Pantera wasn’t quite as, er, petty as the Mangusta, it was arguably the car that put De Tomaso on the world map.
Like the Mangusta, Italian design house Ghia would be called upon to style the Pantera. But while Giorgetto Giugiaro handled the look of the former, American designer Tom Tjaarda was called up for the Pantera. And despite severing ties with Shelby, De Tomaso was still able to secure Ford V8s to slot in the middle. Being a car of the 1970s, engines were chopped and changed on the regular, with power and displacement varying wildly across the many, many different variants De Tomaso produced between 1971 and 1992.
Among the rarest, though, is the car we have here. The Pantera GTS was essentially a homologation special to allow the Pantera to enter Group 3 racing in the early 1970s. It shared the same 5.8-litre Ford Cleveland V8 as the regular Pantera, though power was increased to 350hp courtesy of a forged aluminium intake manifold, larger carburettors and upgraded exhaust headers.
As you may have noticed, it’s also incredibly wide. And that wasn’t done just to scare competitors off the road, either. Underneath those flared arches are upgraded suspension components with adjustable spring rates, and hiding behind those deep-dish wheels are beefier brakes. A faster steering rack was also thrown in for a more responsive drive and, if you’ve got the patience for it, you can even adjust the gear ratios. Best of all? De Tomaso didn’t strip out the interior, so you get leather on just about everything, touring-style seats and even wood panelling on the centre console.
This particular example is one of the later 1979 cars, launching just before De Tomaso went crazy with wings, air dams and side strakes. Consequently, it hits all the right spots. The red-on-matte black finish is downright menacing and contrasts perfectly with the gold 'Pantera' lettering down the sides. De Tomaso produced well over 7,000 Panteras of its two-decade lifespan, but only a handful of those were GTS spec. The ad suggests this car is one of only two right-hand drive examples produced in 1979.
As we know, despite a great origin story, De Tomaso faded into obscurity after production of the Pantera wrapped up. An attempt to relaunch it hit a roadblock in the mid-2010s when its main backer was jailed for fraud and embezzlement, though its most recent revival as a boutique hypercar brand seems to be going in the right direction with the retro-styled P72. That’ll cost you many millions of pounds, but this Pantera GTS? Just £124,995. Compare that with the equivalent Lamborghini Countach or Ferrari 512 BB and, well, the Pantera comes across as a bit of a steal.
SPECIFICATION | DE TOMASO PANTERA GTS
Engine: 5,763cc V8
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 350@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 362@6,000rpm
Year registered: 1979
Recorded mileage: 35,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £124,995
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