The forgotten Italian supercar
As with most Italian cars of the day, rust-proofing was minimal and the quality of fit and finish on these early models was poor with large amounts of body solder being used to cover body panel flaws. Subsequently, Ford increased their involvement in the production of the later cars with the introduction of precision stampings for body panels which resulted in improved overall quality. Several modifications were made for the 1972 model year Panteras. A new 4 Bolt Main Cleveland Engine, also 351 cu in, was used with lower compression ratio (from 11:1 to 8.6:1, chiefly to meet US emissions standards and run on lower octane standard fuel) but with the more aggressive “Cobra Jet” camshaft (featuring the same lift and duration as the 428 Cobra Jet’s factory performance cam) in an effort to reclaim some of the power lost through the reduction in compression along with a dual point distributor. Many other engine changes were made, including the use of a factory exhaust header.
Gremlins found in early production cars were addressed in subsequent versions, but in 1975 Ford stopped importing them into the U.S. market. Enter Wisconsin businessman and quintessential car guy George Stauffer, who assumed importation of the new Pantera GT5 in the early 1980s. The GT5 was the most aggressive-looking Pantera yet, with fiberglass fender extensions, spoilers and rear wing, all typical of FIA Group 5 practice, and vastly improved performance. In 1985 the GT5-S became the ultimate road-going Pantera, with all-steel flared fenders and a steel front spoiler. Although Ford had ceased U.S. production of the 351 Cleveland engine, Australian production continued, as did its use in the Pantera. Where the original Pantera used 8-inch-wide front and 10-inch rear wheels, the GT5-S’s huge fender flares allowed 10-inch and 13-inch Campagnolo magnesium wheels and proportionally wider tires, giving it the look of a full-blown Le Mans racer.
This 1987 DeTomaso Pantera GT5-S is a fine example of what many consider the best of the line. It is one of an estimated 187 built and one of 50 legally imported into the United States. It is remarkably fresh in its presentation, having been driven just 11,700 kilometers and maintained in a private collection from 1997 to 2015. The good-looking black paint is complemented with a luxurious and pristine tan leather interior trimmed with burled-wood inserts. Powered by the 351 Cleveland engine with a ZF 5-speed transaxle, it rides on Pirelli P7 tires on the original Campagnolo wheels and is offered with the original tool kit and a full set of aftermarket wheels and tires.
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