MANGUSTA / PANTERA - MANUFACTURING
The manufacturing strategy by Ford certainly could not follow the low volume cottage industry approach used by DeTomaso on the Mangusta. For much higher volume, the engine and transmission were not a problem. Ghia had probably never made a vehicle in the numbers that Ford planned for the Pantera. As a result there would be so many engineering solutions on the Mangusta that were unacceptable to Ford that everything had to be challenged as a new car was conceived. I suppose at the same time DeTomaso wanted a car with a connection to the Mangusta as he saw himself building a company to compete with other prominent Italian makes.
The Pantera in the end was driven by functional changes as well as basic architectural criteria that resulted in a very different looking car.
The Mangusta was extreme in it's seating layout, lowness to the ground and construction. Ford engineers I am sure were horrified at it becoming a Ford product, that dictated the criteria changes effecting design, engineering and manufacturing.
One of the few, and surprising, items left as basic architecture to the unibody/frame layout to be used on the Pantera was the rear bridge.
On the Mangusta it represented the weak point in the chassis that prevented the car from handling well, making it very tricky during high speed cornering. An additional smaller bridge was added(my guess), as a fix. Both bridges are linked to the sides of the rear frame with single bolts that allowed a hinge like response to side forces that came directly into the frame at that point from the rear hub carriers. The bridge was soft mounted to both sides of the frame and the transmission hard mounted to it. All other mid-engine cars I have looked at do the reverse, hard mounting the bridge solidly to the frame and soft mounting the transmission to it. The small rubber mounts allow the bridge to also twist under wheel input.
Ford also used high volume techniques in the interior to take the hand work out of the car.
Weight was reduced in the all steel body by making the car narrower. This also helped get the side windows down. Engine accessibility was enhanced over the Mangusta by changing the rear compartment aluminum engine covers to a single piece without the glass pieces and central hinge bar.
On and on, many more details I am sure reduced the cost although weight ended up about the same as the Mangusta.
Remember also at that time with the introduction of so many mid-engine cars that the Chevrolet Corvette, being rear drive and lower in cost than the Panters, was criticized for being old fashioned. The Corvette almost was discontinued a couple of times but remained to experience the current success that it now has, with rear wheel drive.
The Pantera could have become a sales success if Ford had possibly applied the cost saving techniques to a lower volume car that could have been evolved both in style and function. In the end I think Ford just did not have the patience for this kind of product.