The Pantera that could have been

This sports car has a special place in automotive history. The De Tomaso Pantera is arguably the world’s first affordable mid-engined exotic, which had a sticker price of $10,000 when it was introduced to the American market.

The Euro-American hybrid was penned by Italians and had an American muscle Ford 351 Cleveland V8 beating under its hood. The Pantera was also unusual because it was sold in Ford dealers from 1971 through 1975. The earliest Panteras had a number of mechanical issues from being pushed to market too early, and legend has it, that the King himself Elvis Presley, shot the door of his 1971 Pantera with a revolver when it failed to start. Eventually, engineers would address the issues and most cases were resolved by 1972. De Tomaso continued to produce the Pantera until 1992 in much more limited numbers and at a continually growing price tag, especially with the introduction of the widebody GT5 in 1980. About 7,200 Panteras were ultimately built, 5,500 of them from the early years in partnership with Ford. It remains one of the greatest success stories from a small Italian manufacturer of high-end sports cars.
In 2014, Stefan Schulze was commissioned to create the design for the next generation De Tomaso Pantera and worked on the project, until the brand was bought out by a Chinese manufacturer and the project halted for reasons beyond control.
In design philosophy, Schulze’s beautiful creation hearkens back to the purism of the earliest Panteras. A definite Lamborghini influence is palpable, and that is perhaps understandable as the Pantera’s profile blends well with the cooling vents on the rear quarter of the Huracan, a design that has benefited from about 40 years of advancement in this writers limited understanding of aerodynamics. Schulze also has noted that the design was still a work in progress when the project was terminated. It was the car that could have been or what might have been.
The wheels themselves are a work of art, and unlike the car it was initially intended for, may eventually find their way into production.

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