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I am the new owner of #2458, a 1972 pre-L Pantera,  and wanted to share with you my first four weeks of ownership.

The ongoing effort to find one at a price I could afford, and would be happy with, meant finding one with decent bodywork or at a price that the cost of bodywork would be a reasonable additional expense.  Understand, I love turning wrenches, but I can’t perform quality bodywork. All those mindful people can have their quiet thoughtful moments, I just need a radio and a project in my garage to keep me happy.  The time flies by I am never in a rush. Part of working on a car is learning about the model's nuances and history and making connections with like minded people.

The vehicle I bought is from Indiana.  I've never bought a vehicle sight unseen and still don't like the process.  The selling dealer posted 190 hi-res photos and 6 videos so at least I could identify a few weak spots.  Ticking exhaust manifold, droopy headliner on the driver's side, bubbling dash skin, and a poor starting engine with 39k mi.  I am the 4th owner. The body is nice, fresh paint in 1983 still looks nice, Wilwood brakes, alum radiator, MSD 6AL ignition, and no jack/car lift damage underneath.

I took delivery on 10/29/19.  The hauler I chose was cheaper than another vendor, but the ordeal was a little stressful and communication was poor.  It arrived 2 days later than I was told it would. I don't want to elaborate but I would go with the more expensive hauler next time.

It was super exciting to see it start up and back out of the trailer.  The sound, the rumble. It was a little disheartening to then watch it stall and restart 3 more times trying to get it into my garage.  Very mixed emotions as I wrestled with the high of new ownership and the lows of what the hell did I just spend a boat-load of money on to watch it stumble across my driveway.  When it warmed up some, it ran better.


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(I think I have the hang of the forum now)

Thinking I could enjoy a few days driving before winter, I dug into the exhaust header gasket first.  The driver’s side header practically unscrewed by hand, except for the last bolt closest to the driver’s seat.  Apparently the mechanic never went back to tighten things up after running it a few times. The passenger side is tight, couldn’t budge a thing there.  That one sticky bolt though (not surprising right?) was a mystery. It came out of the block with a smashed/pointy front end. Huh I thought. I dropped in the new gasket and discovered that I too could not get that last bolt in.  In fact both bolts for cyl #5 really weren’t going to work. No amount of swearing and knuckle bleeding was going to fix this without intervention.


I took everything off and put it on the bench. I lined the gasket up to the header flanges and guess what?  The headers are warped and the #5 cyl bolt holes are about a ¼ inch off when paired to the gasket. Well this isn’t going to work, I thought.  I had to sleep on this a couple of nights. I got some steel pipes and put them inside the header tubes. Figured I couldn’t really mess it up any more.  I have a small floor jack that I used to force the pipes apart. They did spread and I was able to match the gasket holes very well. At least well enough that I could lay the gasket on top of the headers and drop a bolt through the gasket and it would fall easily through both holes.

One win, two fails.  The holes match up now.  Unfortunately the mating surfaces of the flanges are not planar and the headers actually split at the collector.  Torn metal, gah! Dig out the mig welder and patch up the splits best I can. For lack of a bench mill I used a belt sander with 80 grit to improve the planar mismatch.  Not perfect though. I doubled up the exhaust gaskets on #5 and #8 and bolted it all back together. Well at least I can start it and drive it now without the tick-tick.


I live in New Hampshire and “winter is coming” (GOT reference).  I really wanted to sort this out soon as my ability to put it on the road is a fast closing window.  Not knowing the status of the engine would create many sleepless nights if I just covered it and stored it for the winter.  I just had to dig into it. Over the next two days I did take it for two short drives. 3 miles each. I kept an eye on the temperature and tachometer.  Went through the gears. Once warmed up it ran better and would hold an idle. The ticking exhaust went away - yay. Then after parking it back in my garage it would not start again.  Ugh! Lots of cranking and gas smell. No joy.

None of the plugs would spark.  She’s dead now. I tested the MSD ignition using the test procedure - coil output to ground, but no spark there either.  The wiring appeared to be accurate and the red light on the 6AL flashes when turned on. I was suspicious of the crimped on blade connectors, especially the trigger wire from the distributor.  I also discovered that the previous owner had hidden a small toggle switch next to the driver’s seat to ground the signal wire - disabling the ignition if it is closed. After removing the kill switch (anti-theft?) symptoms still persisted.

I tore out the whole electronic ignition; MSD 6AL and 8920 Tach adapter.  I followed the trigger wire to the distributor and popped the top off. Looking inside I saw that it was a dual points distributor (original?) and it was full of corrosion.  What a shame that the previous owner would install a digital ignition and keep a neglected distributor in the loop. The weakest link in the chain comes to mind. I am surprised she ran at all.  At least I didn’t have to add a flat-bed tow to my list of receipts.


The good news is that the MSD components bench tested just fine.  As a replacement distributor I ordered the MSD Pro Billet small cap HEI with cast iron gear (pn 8577) and a set of HEI plug wires (pn 35383).  I also needed a 6 ft pulse cable (pn 8860). As part of my reinstall I also added a relay to create switched power from the always hot side of the starter solenoid, instead of through the ignition.  Makes sense to me.



To set up the distributor I chose to use the silver bushing (limits the distributor to 25 deg advance) and two light blue springs which allows full advance at 3500 rpm according to the MSD published advance curves.  I set the idle advance to 10 deg. This setup produces 35 deg total advance (10 + 25) at 3500 rpm.  This baby fires right up now.  My wife helped with the timing of course.  She got to sit on the floor and rev 'er up.

Unfortunately all of this has taken me 4 weeks and we are expecting 4-6” of snow and freezing rain today.  Winter is now here. I was able to start and drive the car out of my wife’s parking spot (where my tools and small heater are kept).  I backed it out last night and it is officially put up for the winter now.  I can sleep soundly knowing that I’ve got a real champ waiting for me in the spring.  I'll have plenty of questions for you all when the snow melts.

Backing out for storage


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Last edited by jjones

Sorry to hear you are a little disappointed about your purchase , but keep in mind after you solved those  problems you learn a lot about how those beatyfull cars are build and constructed.

When I see the way  you use the floor jack on the headers,  for me it looks  that you are handy too.

Overall it looks a nice Pantera and enjoy this.


Brilliant solution to use the floor jack to "adjust" your exhaust manifold.  If you develop any future exhaust leaks, I recommend Remflex header gaskets - they're quite thick and made of a copper sandwich design which will allow them to seal despite the planar differences in your header ports.

Here's a to-do list for you over the winter...

Best Fixes for under $20

(by Larry Finch, posted to the DeTomaso Forum on June 17, 2003)

The following maintenance should also be the first order of business for any new Pantera owner...

  1. Add an emergency front hood release cable.
  2. Make sure your engine oil dipstick is the correct length. Early cars showed "Full" but were actually a quart low.
  3. Add Zerk grease fittings to your ball joints.
  4. Replace stock ceramic/aluminum-strip fuses with GBC glass fuses and clean all fuse holders.
  5. Make sure throttle linkage has two return springs.
  6. Make sure water temp sender is moved from surge tank to engine block.
  7. Change ZF gear oil.
  8. Change brake fluid.
  9. Change clutch fluid.
  10. Make sure distributor gear shear pin is upgraded to stock pin with a second smaller pin inside for added strength.
  11. Drill drain holes in rust prone areas, if not already done on your car.
  12. Remove stock spring spacers if they are still there after thirty years.
  13. Make sure cooling system has all air bubbles removed.
  14. Re-route overflow tank vent hose to exit behind rear wheel.
  15. Add two heater hose shut-off valves to assist the A/C in actually cooling the cabin.
  16. Buy a fire extinguisher


Anyway, congrats on a beautiful car!  Despite the initial disappointment, I'm sure you're going to fall fast in love!

Last edited by garth66

I too purchased sight unseen last July...# 1791 came with FAST XFI 2.0 system.

I haven't had time to learn the system which comes with a programming Touchscreen.It seems to cure all the starting woes so I won't change anything.

I really enjoyed your threads and wish you well with what looks like a nice Pantera.

Welcome to the Club67


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Sounds to me like you will quickly have your car whipped into shape.

I don't really know a lot of people still running the stock headers....  They were known for cracking and giving exhaust leaks.    But certainly in your case it makes sense until you decide to make an exhaust change.

Enjoy the car - I second Larry's listing of minor projects to knock off. 

Honestly, it looks like a good one from the pictures.




larryw posted:

JJones, just where in NH are you?

I'm in Rockingham County. There's at least three of us in this neighborhood with operating cars, several more in various conditions nearby.

I'm in the Dartmouth College area.  I've never seen one on the road or at a car show.  Prior to purchase I saw one in CT that was for sale.  It had a failed head gasket so to me it was a project with risky unknowns.  I made an offer but the owner obviously felt that was an insignificant detail and he was sitting on diamond in the rough.  We could not work out a deal.  At least I got to sit in one and give it a thorough look over.  I've learned a lot through this forum and other places.

Last edited by jjones

...Yes!! Welcome to the 'Busted Knuckle' Club! NO Disappointment! She Belongs to YOU, Now. So Make Her 'Yours'! You will Now Experience 'Pride', You have Never Felt Before! You Love Turning Wrenches, and are Competent. All You need is To Research, ask questions, and TRY the work a First Time.

In the End, as frustrating as it can is always FUN, and the Reward is Unbelievable! Clevelands RULE!! Always Have!

P.S. Your Cat Looks Great! You Purchased a Good One! Nice Garage, Also.


Last edited by marlinjack

Welcome to the Pantera family JJones!  I can relate to just how you feel. When I purchased mine last summer it was excitement mixed with a lot of "what the heck did I get myself into". I'm enjoying it though, busted knuckles and all. It's the one car I've always wanted. Have her out today, and loving it! It will take time, but in the end you will have a fantastic car just the way YOU want it. Enjoy the journey! 

I bought 2458 without confirmation one way or the  other that the engine was original.  The seller didn't specify and I didn't press it to keep the price down.  Turns out two owners ago the engine number tag on driver's side was painted over and the seller either didn't care or thought it non-original so left it painted for over 30 years.

As I've been pawing over the car and a few boxes of parts I found the original engine id tag still attached to the intake manifold, which was good confirmation that little has been molested (Edelbrock intake and Holley carb now) and replaced parts have been saved and boxed up.

Today I took a heat gun to the engine id tag and with a little heat was able to wipe off the thick soft paint.  It was easier than I thought it would be.  I have updated my registry information to show that the engine is original #1535.  I guess I can see it in the block now, but without the tag I just couldn't quite make it out.  It was a good guess at best.  It's nice when two clues corroborate each other.



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  • 2458_engine_id_tag: original engine id tag
  • 2458_engine_no_1535: matching #s engine

Whew - when I first saw your post, I thought someone has sold my car!  Mine (#2548) is in the paint shop awaiting new clothes.  Very clever with the floor jack trick - I'll remember that for my next stubborn problem.  I'm sure you will find plenty of projects to work on in the wintertime.  Here is mine as of last week ....IMG_0393


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