Ever heard of a De Tomaso Pantera?
It was one of my dream cars growing up; I had a poster of this beauty on the wall alongside the Lamborghini Countach LP5000.
I guess I liked the name De Tomaso and that it was one of the few truly exotic muscle cars, especially when it carried the GT5-S badge.
This was a seriously aggressive looking supercar, which not only looked the part with its quad exhaust tips and massively wide 345/35 rubber down the back, but its V8 burble was loud enough to silence any other performance car of the day.
Powered by a naturally aspirated 5.8 litre engine producing 224kW and 451Nm, the DeTomaso GT5-S could run 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds and had a top speed of 265km/h. It also had as much if not more cachet as any Porsche, Ferrari or Maserati at the time.
Alejandro De Tomaso was born in Buenos Aires in 1928 and arrived in Modena Italy, at age twenty-seven with the sole purpose of racing a Maserati. He also drove for the Italian constructor Officine Specializzate Costruzioni Automobili – Fratelli Maserati SpA or OSCA as it was known, for the following three seasons.
But bigger things were ahead of the young Argentinian, and in 1959 he formed De Tomaso Modena SpA in Alberato, a suburb of Modena and a stone’s throw away from Ferrari’s front gate.
Not only did De Tomaso continue to build his supercars for over thirty years, but in 1970 he built a Formula One car for Frank Williams, which not only failed to finish the first four races, but killed driver Piers Courage.
Its worth noting that the gifted Australian race driver, Tim Schenken drove the De Tomaso 505 car, powered by a Cosworth V8 in four Formula One races during 1970, when he replaced another driver, Brian Redman. It seems that no Formula One driver could do any good in the 505, as Tim went on to start in thirty-six F1 races, and scored a total of seven championship points.
De Tomaso introduced the wide body GT5 in 1980 with much better brakes, huge tyres and a luxurious interior, which would rival or better any Maserati cockpit of that time.
Also added, was a fibreglass body kit, which included an air dam, wheel flares, and running boards, which made the car look even better, if that was possible.
The GT5-S was practically the same car as the GT5 but with one exception, the “S” in the GT5-S stood for steel and that meant single piece flared steel guards and front air dam.
In good condition, the GTS-5 will fetch a tidy sum these days with just 183 GT5-S Panteras ever built.
Even rarer, is the Pantera 90 Si model introduced in 1990, with only 38 of these cars produced before it was phased out in 1993 to make way for the carbon fibre bodied Guara.
That was a shame really, as the 90 Si was a Marcello Gandini designed facelift, which included a partial suspension and chassis redesign and looked superb.
Panteras had their day on the big screen too, when no less than four of these cars appeared in the Hollywood hit Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) and a yellow GTS featured in the original film Gone in 60 seconds (1974).
Sadly, De Tomaso went into voluntary liquidation in 2004, after a deal with a Russian company to build off-road vehicles in Calabria, never quite got off the ground.
Not to worry, the poster of the De Tomaso GT5-S is still hanging, albeit on a different wall.