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Heavy Metal Affliction - 1972 De Tomaso Pantera

John Schommer
Thursday, March 23, 2017

 

At first it might be easy to let jealousy get the better of you, but if you give yourself a moment to take it in, having a De Tomaso Pantera at age 15 is actually appropriate for Forza fan Tyler Roland - Gamertag fordgrandson1. Roland is the grandchild of a Ford executive, which explains his Gamertag. His other grandfather bought a DeLorean off the showroom floor when they were first offered. Given those influences, and the fact that the Pantera is a mid-engine exotic Ford, I’m sure both grandparents would approve.

 

“I got my first bag of cars when I was about a year old, a denim bag full of loose old models. My parents assumed it was a phase, but I never stopped having them as a part of life,” Roland said. “So many cool things in my life have happened thanks to my love of cars.”

 

 

Tyler Roland refers to the Pantera, as “his” car. The whole story is his father bought the car without particularly planning to do so at a local auction when his son was just 13. They attended with the intention of just appreciating the classics on offer. However, when there was only one other bidder on the yellow Italian-American classic, the elder Roland realized the value and raised his paddle. Moments later the Roland’s owned the somewhat eclectic exotic from the somewhat unusual marriage between Ford and De Tomaso.

 

The Pantera -- that’s Italian for “panther -- attempts to fill the gap that Henry Ford was trying to fill when he offered to buy Ferrari from Enzo Ferrari. Upon being rebuffed, Ford made a massive investment to steal victory from Ferrari four years in a row at Le Mans in the GT40. The GT40 was never destined for the road, though. Following the Mangusta, the Pantera are both iterations of a road-going GT40 and are comprised of GT40 components. Roland’s father Rocky has always had a love of the GT40 so the purchase made sense for him; for his son, it was a dream come true.

 

The Pantera is 15 inches lower than a similar year Corvette, it was one of Ford’s attempts at offering Chevy’s best some competition. They are hard to compare though when you consider the 351 Cleveland V8 mounted amid ship, the gorgeous gated five-speed, and the quite obvious Italian flair. Lee Iacocca ran Ford in the early 1970s, and the Pantera was sold through Lincoln-Mercury dealers. After selling around 5,500 Panteras, Ford stopped importing them, but the model was produced largely unchanged until 1992.

 

 

Tyler Roland has hundreds of car books, all of which he has read numerous times according to his dad. Ask him a question about any classic car and he will deliver a precise answer and then produce the books that he cited. Tyler’s room is decorated with banners, stoplights, vintage license plates, and racing memorabilia as well as hundreds of car models on display from his massive model car collection. ”You feel like you’ve walked into the magical kingdom of automobilia,” his dad said. “I have never known a greater car enthusiast of any age than Tyler.”

 

The purchase of the Pantera is partially the result of Tyler’s enthusiasm. Tyler says he has been leaning on his dad to buy one since the fourth grade. Then the right one came along at the right time. “Tyler was pretty psyched to put it mildly,” Rocky said. After taking possession, the father and son drove it some 300 miles away to visit family along the way they got to know the brutal power of the car. The pair work on it together and Tyler is in charge of finding the right car shows to attend.

 

 

Don’t write Roland off as spoiled. He appreciates the opportunity to care for this classic. While he understands his dad is an easygoing guy and will likely trust him to drive the Pantera, it’s not like the car was purchased as his daily driver in waiting. When Roland does get his license he is thinking of buying a VW Beetle, even though his friends think he should get something they say is “cooler.” Call me biased but, being a VW fan, I think that choice alone shows a good sense of vehicular appreciation and judgment.

 

Now some details on the car itself. This Pantera was previously owned by Yankee Candle as a car in the Yankee Candle Car Museum. When that collection was liquidated, it went to Dragone auctions. The top end has seen some upgrades and it was previously fitted with an Ansa exhaust system and a 10-gallon gas tank for racing.The latter is not very good for road trips when you consider the 6 MPG that can be expected. Cosmetically, the car is completely stock including the original padded steering wheel.

 

 

For 1972 the Pantera was conservatively rated at around 330 hp. The Roland’s took the car to a dyno where it pulled 412 hp at the rear wheels. The big V8 delivers a flat torque curve with a peak around 410 lb/ft. Going from 50 to 100mph in third gear takes about four seconds.  When you compare a Pantera to the other cars it competed with, like the Lamborghini Countach, the $9,800 price tag of the De Tomaso really spelled bargain. These days they are still relatively affordable, when you compare them to their Italian counterparts.

 

“That's part of the reason I like the Pantera, how rare it is on the road, and that 'Steve McQueen' cool it has,” Tyler said, “It can also, impressively, pull off yellow. It's about as American as an Italian can get.” Both father and son love the car, each in their own ways and in ways they share. It has just enough refinement, just enough rawness, just enough rarity. It’s a car that has its quirks and it’s a car that has its own story. 

 

 

“Most people assume the Pantera is something else,” Tyler said. So he is the perfect candidate to properly inform anyone just what they are looking at when they are showing it or just out appreciating it. As far as appreciating the car Tyler spends plenty of time doing that. “Coming home from school, I always glance at the car. Maybe at night I'll head into the garage, pop the trunk button, and open it. Just seeing the engine, it gives me a chill.” Maybe the ability to do that just may be something to be jealous of after all.