BLACK PANTHER

GARAGE GURUS

WORDS & PHOTOS * LASLO ANTAL

READERíS RESTO

ORIGINAL CAR

NARROW-BODY YELLOW 1971 PANTERA L

RESTORED CAR:

PANTERA GT4 CLONE LENGTH OF RESTORATION:

1 YEAR

ESTIMATED COST OF RESTORATION:

$60,000

ESTIMATED VALUE AFTER RESTORATION:

$140,000+

FEATURE YOUR CAR IN READERíS RESTO?

Email details to: uniquecars@ bauertrader .com.au P RESE NT E D BY

LASLO ANTAL BUILT THE WIDEST, HARDEST-LOOKING DE TOMASO PANTERA ON THE PLANET. THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

Iíve owned this Pantera for about twelve years and bought it off a friend of mine. He actually owned it for 26 years.

He lives in Tamborine near the Gold Coast and he imported it back when it was near new. It probably had one or two previous owners back in the States but it was one or two years old when he imported it into Australia and converted it to right-hand drive.

It was originally a yellow narrow body Pantera L without the flares or the super-wide wheels. In other words it looked almost identical to the car Elvis shot. And yes, itís been checked it for bullet holes!

It was a stock standard-looking car when it arrived from the US.

My friend did a lot of work to it over the years. He gave it a colour change to black, put some flares on it, some wide Simmons wheels and he had a Ford SVO motorsport block motor in it. He certainly built a tough motor for it. His wife drove it a lot over the course of the 26 years and they really enjoyed the car. He only sold it because he started work on another car: a Ford GT 40 that heís had custom-made from scratch. Itís a wide-bodied GT 40 and so far itís cost him upwards of 300 grand.

Probably more by now.

When I got it, the Pantera had a small black deck lid spoiler as you can see in the photos. I did a lot of work on it as soon as I got hold of the keys. I basically fixed everything mechanical on it because it was an old car and things deteriorate over time. I went over the whole car and I refreshed the suspension with new bushes and ball joints. It got new wheel bearings and had a new

ďITíS LIKE DRIVING AN OUTRAGEOUS GO-KART. IT HUGS THE ROAD AND JUST HAMMERSĒ

engine built for it. I fixed the whole cooling system, starting with a new larger aluminium radiator built and all new water pipes because the water pipes go from the front of the car to the back, running right down the middle so I had larger diameter stainless steel water pipes made for it. Gary Sturdy looked after most of the mechanical issues, while Gary Whittaker took care of the engine upgrades. I had a whole new air conditioning system put in it, had the car repainted, bought different flares for it and put those on.

I even had a one-off set of custom wheels made for it. It was a major overhaul.

The most difficult thing was probably getting the flares.

I ordered them from Hall Pantera in America and they didnít fit properly. Iíd spent all this money on them and then had to get them cut up and reshaped! When I had the wheels custom made I basically messed up the offset a little bit and the wheels stuck out too far so I had to get the flares widened an extra inch to cover the wheels. The GT4 Pantera that itís based on is the widest Pantera made so mine ended up actually being a bit wider than the GT4 so I ended up with the widest Pantera in the world!

I had a vision in my head for the way the car needed to look. I have certain tastes for how I like things done. Iím also good at art, photography and Photoshop, so I usually mock up some photos of what

P R ESE NT E D B Y

DE TOMASO PANTERA

The basic narrow-bodied Pantera was followed by L (1972) and GTS (1974) variants. In 1972 De Tomaso launched the Gr.4 for the track, followed by GT4 road cars. These had the widest flares of all the Pantera models and are in big demand. Just eight eight race cars were built and six road cars.

Thereís only one real one in Australia, owned by gentleman racer Rusty French. There were then aggressive GT5 and GT5-S models that sold well, and the final Gandini-styled Pantera SI/90 model.

HALL PANTERA

These guys are the go-to people for all things Pantera. As the worldís largest Pantera parts house, if you canít get it from Hall, youíll probably have to take the Laslo route and build it yourself. Based in Paramount, California, the business was founded by Gary Hall in 1976. After buying his first Pantera, Hall became obsessed with having enough parts to run his car for a lifetime. When Lincoln-Mercury stopped importing the Pantera, Hall saw an opportunity, approached Bill Stroppe, who prepared Lincoln- Mercuryís incoming Panteras and purchased all of his parts inventory.

Hall Pantera is still a family owned and operated business.

Look Ďem up at www. hallpantera.com

The Panteraís shape flowed from the pen of Tom Tjaarda, who had previously designed the De Tomaso Mangusta.

Tjaarda went on to design the futuristic Aston Martin Lagonda and the interior of the Lamborghini Diablo.

Iím aiming for. Because of the width it ended up looking even better than I predicted.

I had the wheels built up by Dragway. Theyíve got a shop in Brisbane but their factory is in Melbourne. I designed them; theyíre based on the original wheels but with a bigger diameter and a bit wider. The rears are 18 inches by 14 inches wide and I did a 3D computer model for them.

Dragway created a CNC map of it and cut them out of a big hunk of aluminium. Iíve gone through a few different sets of tyres on the car. Iíve had Michelin 345s and BF Goodrich drag radials. When I bought it, the car was fitted with the Pirelli P7s that also came on the Lamborghini Countach but they were for 15-inch diameter wheels and I went up to 18-inch diameter and you couldnít get them in that size. The fronts are 16 inches by 9.5 inches. The smaller fronts give it a really aggressive stance. The front looks little and low and the back looks big, fat and wide.

The engine was dynoed at 400 horsepower at the rear wheels. Because the car isnít very heavy, it went like a bat out of hell. That thing was so awesome and fun to drive, itís like driving an outrageous go-kart. It hugs the road and it just hammers. The noise is unreal. Itís got a Cleveland 351 in it and it had a lumpy cam and it sounds amazing.

The Pantera has a really short exhaust because the engineís mid-mounted and so when you couple that with some free-flowing mufflers, the car sounds like an animal. The neighbours always heard me coming from a couple of blocks away.

It eventually went to Japan, which was a bit of a sad thing because I didnít want it to leave the country. As soon as I sold it, Rusty French rang me and said that Iíd promised him the car if I was going to sell it. Iíd completely forgotten about that and he was trying to see if there was a way to break out of the deal, but it was really too late and I felt duty bound to honour the agreement.

I drove this car all the time.

I want my cars to be seen and I like taking people for rides in them. I used to take the Pantera down to the Gold Coast or on the winding roads around Mount Glorious. Iím still busy though. Iím now working on a 900 horsepower big-block Ford XA coupe and itís going to be even more radical than the Pantera.

Canít wait.

The 1989 Pantera SI/90 was more than just an aesthetic refresh. The monocoque chassis was replaced by a largely tubular structure, curing the Panteraís Achilles heel: chassis rigidity.

When restoring a classic Pantera, welding in additional underbody square tubing is a favourite mod, especially around the rear frame. It also helps cure the carís rust issues.

DE TOMASO PANTERA GT4 TRIBUTE

P RE S E NT E D B Y ENGINE 351ci Cleveland V8, Holley 780 carb MAX POWER 400 rwhp TRANSMISSION ZF 5-speed manual transaxle SUSPENSION Adjustable Koni shocks and springs BRAKES JFZ kit for 15Ē wheel BODY Steel panels, fi breglass guards, carbon fi bre rear wing, full chrome-moly roll cage and engine bracing WHEELS Dragway aluminium custom 16Ēx 9.5Ē fronts, 18Ēx14Ē rears TYRES BF Goodrich 245/45/16 front, 345/3-/18 rear