Well I know many of you purists are not going to like this.
But I bit the bullet a couple of days ago & chopped off the Pantera’s nose.
I was gutting out the front lights, radiator etc ready for new fenders to be fitted.
When I had removed most of the surplus parts I found the front of the car at some time had taken a bang & has been straightened.
This section of the car does bugger all except support the lights & radiator as well as make the car look pretty.
So it was not the fact that the car was structurally un-sound, just that with crumpled & then hammered straight steel it was a bit messy & did not meet my standard of being acceptable. (someone had covered a great deal of the creases with bog, (bondo) )
SO……….I took measurements, created a jig that supports the inner fenders from moving during cutting, (the blue structure) as well as another bolt on jig that gives a reference point for the hood hinges.
Then went onto Solidworks & created a new nose structure that supports the bodywork, integrates the hood hinges etc.
This new structure tags together like a jig saw puzzle & laser cut from 2, 3 & 4mm steel plate.
Solidworks tells me I will have a slight weight increase in the region of 4 to 5 kg.
But the alloy radiator has easily saved that amount.
Plus the new nose is a great deal stronger.
Then we cut off the old nose.
This was cut off whilst the car was up on the chassis hoist, not on its wheels which could create chassis flex.
We have added a 65x35x2 RHS crossmember inbetween the the lower chassis rails as well as triangular cut RHS gussets behind this new crossmember.
Also plates to the upper rails that blank them off & give a point to weld the new nose to.
Upon cutting nothing moved at all as 95% of all of the chassis strength is from the front of the suspension arms rear wards.
I was surprised to find no rust at all within any of the structure we opened up.

The old fenders will be completley removed back to the doors & replaced with new items.



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Original Post
And a Solidworks picture of the new nose structure.
Should receive this in a couple of days time from the laser cutters & we will weld it up.
The green tubes you see in the lower crossmember are for access to the lower suspension arm bolts/nuts, so a socket can be passed through the hole.
The hole in the centre of this cross member will have a tube welded through & will become a towing point.
The plates where the hood hinges are located have the same curve as the hoods nose.
We will make all of the front body work on the english wheel, (with a few detail changes such as removal of the indicator pods, removal of that horizontal box that juts down below the grill & intergrate a new spoiler).
Ahhh the work I create for myself !!



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This is a photo of the previously formed fenders we made on the English wheel.
We made a buck out of steel that dropped on top of the original fender as a guide.
These fenders you can see have more of an arch over the wheel, as well as have more of a humped rounded shape as they curve back toward the hood.
Its subtle, but thats what I wanted to do, just a slight tweek on the original shape to take the flatness out of the top of the fender.
Flares have not been created yet as I have yet to finish making the wheels.


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Reason for doing so?
Well it started with the previous owner’s love of bondo, (body filler).
I personally don't like the stuff being used on nice cars.
A few of the body panels have too much body filler for my liking, as well as rust starting to come through on some of the body work, (no rust in the chassis).
So I set a project to replace some of the panels with new steel items, to rid the car of its last traces of rust & to have a perfectly straight 100% steel body.
So that’s what we are doing.
We are also going slightly thicker on the panels, using 1.2mm sheet.
As I stated at the beginning of this thread, upon removing some of the components in the nose I found traces of the frontal chassis having been damaged at some stage.
So that’s why the nose structure is being replaced.
Pantera nose sections are not easy to find so creating my own seemed the most obvious solution.
At the same time I am changing the contours of the body skin a little to suit my interpretation of the Pantera’s great shape.

Yesterday we removed the doors, gutted them out, cut off the outer skins & we have sent the door frames out for sand blasting.
Once we have new door skins we will then carry on with the front fenders so we can line up the fender lines with the door line.

Originally posted by Edge:
Heres the nose, may get turned into a desk!

You should mount it on the wall and have a mural of the Pantera behind it and make it look like the car is coming through it (the wall).

If you turn it into a barbecue grill, you might get pelted with olives or something Wink
I have had my fibreglass guy make a mould for a RHD dash based on the 73' shape.
He first pulled a lightweight mould from a LHD dash.
Then made a lightweight part out of this new mould.
Cut the part into sections & cut holes in the mould to re-fit the gauge sections back in the mould, but on the opposite side.
Then glass these parts together, lift out, finish the surface of this new created plug & make a new more sturdy mould.
Very cunning as this method retains all of the critical mount points & dimensions so it will be as the original, just mirror image.
Interior wise at the moment will be focused around the RHD conversion.
We tried to make a carbon dash out of the new mould, but as it's a really deep mould its very difficult unless you go to the effort of vacuum bagging.
So I will likely end up with the original trimmed style.

I like your idea of the wall mount mural, that would be a great idea combined with a large background photo of the actual car.
I bet there are very few Pantera front cuts around.



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Originally posted by Edge:
Damn Gary you have a lot of Gauges in there.
I love the Tacho, very simple & clear.
Tell me, what are all the small gauges?
You have provision for 9!!


I thought that too. Actually I am missing missing one.

Dash is:
Fuel Level
O2 Gauge

Center Panel:
Trans Temp
Air Ride PSI
Oil Temp
Water Temp

The small switches under the Oil and Water temp are to switch to 2 different locations to check temp.

The PSI is for the front Air shocks but I still need the tank pressure. I need to either add another gauge or use a valve to swap pressure source. I may place a hidden gauge inside the console for tank pressure.

Of course, if you look through the rear view window you also have Fuel Pressure.

Large switch on the right is a momentary toggle up/down to raise and lower front of car using the air.
The center row of switches is the heating and vent. The switches are a little unconventional; they are:

Vent/floor mix
Recirc/Fresh mix

Gives a little more flexibility. Allows a variable mix of Floor and vent, a variable mix of fresh/recirc, and independent control of Defog.
Originally posted by Edge:
I like your idea of the wall mount mural, that would be a great idea combined with a large background photo of the actual car.
I bet there are very few Pantera front cuts around.


You are probably right. I see more back halves than fronts. I had an opportunity once to buy a complete back half of a Pantera (from firewall, deck lid, tail, lights and all. I wanted to keep it as a spare but wanted to get some use out of it. I was tempted to louver the deck lid and make it into a barbecue but decided against the whole project Smiler
Mr. John Gilbert was busy today fitting the front left fender.
Car is sitting way to high at the moment due to a lack of parts in the nose area.
This picture gives a reasonable idea of the shape, tyre tucked in there for reference, but missing the flares.
New pedal box housing welded in on the right side for the RHD conversion.
I will keep the left side pedal box housing as a box for electrical fuses & relays.
Front tyres are 285/40ZR-17 Bridgestone Expedia.
New laser cut nose structure, (second attempt) worked out well & finally got the hood hinges in the correct position.



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Side view
The welded join in the top of the wheel cutout will largely disapear when the flares are installed & what remains will be hammered to shape.
Here you can see how the higher fender with more of an arch to the shape flows into the shape of the door.
If you have a good look at standard Panteras you see that where the top of the fender meets the door it peaks, it does not flow smoothly.
So this is one of the slight alterations we have made to the shape as well as the increased inward curvature to the top face of the fender.
Again, the car is sitting way too high.



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A few modifications to the front compartment.
Now has a new cross member welded in between the shock mount points.
Being that I have cut out the cross member behind the radiator this is the replacement to stiffen the front directly where the stress occurs.
Also seen here is the recessed removable Aluminium battery box.
This is about as low down as you can get in the Pantera & in an ideal position to help balance the car.
Designed to house the big 8037-327 830 CCA Optima battery.
This required a re-location of the sway bar positioned further forward to allow room for the battery box.
You can see a small round bush low down on the right of the picture.
This is a support bush for a Schroeder 26” splined sway bar.



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Very nice work!!

Your experience that "95% of all of the chassis strength is from the front of the suspension arms rear wards" has certainly been borne out by several "Group 5" or "GTO/GTX" style race Pantera chassis.

My own race Pantera follows a similar approach - get rid of (or at least lighten) the parts not adding structural support, and re-engineer the rest to make it stronger.

I really like your subtle fender reshaping. Look forward to following your updates!

Will you also be cutting off and reworking the rear??
Big Grin

Dave, you’re correct in where the stress is.
After all it’s the wheels that impose twist into the chassis, so anything forward or aft of the suspension can aid in strength, but not very well.
Best area for bracing is at the source & between the front & rear wheels.
I have also added bolt in tube braces under the fenders that connect the nose to the shock mounts & then back to the foot pedal area. This in turn will have a bolt in section that connects back to the roll cage.
So in effect a full "bolt in" tube roll cage structure made in sections.

The rear is to receive new fenders to wrap around the new larger wheels.
Not sure yet if I will add more stiffening to the rear, but likely bolt in bar work.

Love the look of your race prepped chassis, that looks hot.

Comp2, your build & your site is very inspirational. Lots of really great ideas going on there.
My hood has a similar cut out, but because I have discarded the pop up lights & the cross tube, as well as the forward cross member I have a huge gaping hole for the hot air to exit the radiator.
This gives me lots of options in this area.

My frustration is the shear amount of time involved & progress is too slow.

I got into this thread late as usual. Larry Stock hit a hump-back bridge at 150 mph in his street '73 during a Silver State open road event in 2006, and BROKE both lower front subframes clear off the tub where they are factory-welded. The uppers were OK. It happened nearly at the end of the run, and a checkpoint worker paced off some 135 feet of 'air time' from the scrape marks he left past the bridge. He runs and sells an elaborate bracing system in front and back that extends some distance from the wheels and requires welding to install properly.
Larry (with a navigator-friend on board the whole time) proceeded to drive the Pantera home some 135 miles at more-or-less legal speeds. It wasn't until later the next week before he noticed some 'looseness'and put the Pantera up on a lift for a check....
I suggest not concentrating your chassis efforts just between the wheels; there are other areas that merit study for stiffening, too. IMHO, seam-welding the entire car is best, replacing all the flexy spot-welds.
That’s very interesting info.
When I mean between the wheels, that’s not just side to side but fore/aft as well.
Your right, seam welding would stiffen the car greatly.
That’s one of the things they do to most production race cars, touring cars etc when they add a cage to the car.
Modern cars are often much worse on their spot welding, or the complete lack of adequate welds. There’s so much thin sheet metal in there that’s just barely welded together. The limitations of fast modern production techniques I guess.

A question for you.
On the lower chassis rails, my car has extra stiffner plates added at the area of the bottom of the foot wells.
If you took a vertical line at the front face of the foot wells down to the chassis rails thats where the extra plates are wrapped around the chassis rails.
Like a wrap of sheet metal around the rails, maybe about 4" long down the rails themselves.
Is this original?

Slow progress.
Here the front right fender has been partially welded in place.
Still no flares yet & the car still sitting too high in the front due to lots of missing parts.
Just visible is a fabricated RHS frame in the nose which is simply a frame fabricated to line up the fenders & use as a guide for fender position measurements.
This will be removed once the fenders are fixed in place.
The right side fender is showing the slightly more pronounced curvature to the top of the fender.



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