Reading Dan Jone's post on how he became a Pantera owner inspired me to share my own experience.
I have always been a Ford nut. In the 50's, it was T'Birds, Lincolns, and Edsels; in the 60's it was Cobras, Mustangs, and Shelbys; in the 70's, it was the Mangusta and Pantera. I didn't own these cars, I was just a kid dreamimg about them.
The car I wanted MOST was a 289 Cobra, but, there was just no way I could swing it. I ended up buying a pair of '66 GT350's. I thought I'd keep them forever, but the finished one was being consumed by that demon RUST, and the other one needed a major restoration.
At the SCCA runoffs in Atlanta in 1974, I got a chance to thoroughly check out a BOSS 302 powered DeTomaso Mangusta. I thought it was the prettiest car I'd ever seen. I started searching for a Mangusta, but, they are awfully rare (only 401 ever built).
I found a wrecked one in Ohio, and drove down to check it out. I started investigating where to get parts for a Mangusta, and things were not looking good - spare parts were even more scarce. One of the guys I talked to owned a Pantera. I had seen it at a Shelby Club picnic earlier that year...
I told him I wasn't looking for a Pantera, I wanted a Mangusta (because I thought, and still do, that it is a prettier car). Then he said, "I'll sell you my Pantera for $7500...." - I said "....I'll be down this weekend".
The car was nearly mint with only 12k miles on it - I couldn't pass it up. I bought the Pantera, and sold off my Shelbys.
Over the years I personalized my car with a number of modifications. I installed a BOSS 351 engine (out of the BOSS 351 Mustang my Dad bought new), a full roll-cage, Hall fiberglass hood, and Mindtrain rear deck louvers. I put a Ford tri-power set-up on it, but eventually switched to Webers. I put 10" wheels on the back, moved the 8" wheels to the front, and polished all of the wheels on a lathe.
I had a lot of fun with that car, and won a lot of trophies with it - I even beat the Pantera 7X (factory prototype) at a local show, and Gary Hall's Pantera at the second Pantera International Convention in Texas.
Unfortunately, my Pantera story does not conclude on a happy note. I was having health problems, and my wife was terminally ill. I lost interest in everything, including my cars. I sold the car, and concentrated on raising my kids by myself.
Here's what my Pantera looked like the day it left (I would never drive it with snow on the ground, but, the new owner couldn't wait to get it home).
Many times I've wished I had my Pantera and my GT350's back, but, I suppose if I still had them, I'd never been able to get the cars I currently have.
The good news is, the kids are done with school, I'm now retired, and I can spend all the time I want playing with my cars.
1965 289 FIA ERA Cobra replica
1965 289HiPo Mustang GT convertible
1957 Ford Thunderbird convertible