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Pantera production info:

The deal with Ford was signed September 9, 1969. They had a "rolling chassis" by March 1970, the yellow car that was photographed among the Roman ruins. That car was pushed from location to location. All the early reports about the car were just relaying technical information provided by the factory, none of the earliest magazine reports involved anybody actually driving one. A car was shipped to America and displayed at the New York & Los Angeles Auto Expos in April & May of 1970. There is no evidence this car was a running car.

The first Panteras (lowest chassis numbers) borrowed the pushbutton door operating mechanism from the preceding DeTomaso sports car, the Mangusta. Because the door operating mechanism is peculiar to these early models, they are referred to as pushbutton model Panteras. The pushbutton Panteras were fully assembled at the Vignale Carrozzeria in Torino (Turin) Italy by small teams of assemblers rather than on an assembly line. The first pushbutton Pantera was chassis #1001. The last pushbutton Pantera, based on chassis number rather than build date, is currently thought to be chassis # 1382, built in April 1971. Total pushbutton production is therefore 382 units.

To the best of my knowledge, the pushbutton Panteras, assembled at the Vignale Carrozzeria in Turin, were ready for sale to the public no earlier than January 1971, just 4 months before the earliest Pre-L Panteras rolled off the assembly line at the DeTomaso assembly plant outside Modena.

One of the very earliest Panteras, Bjorn Carlsson's pushbutton, chassis 1014, is listed on Ben Tyer's web site as a 1971 model. Excepting the earliest prototype Panteras, the pushbutton models were assembled during the 1971 model year, encompassing the months of July 1970 through April 1971. Pushbutton Pantera assembly essentially ceased when the assembly line in Modena went into operation, as Vignale production was shifted to supplying the assembly line in Modena. Although considered 1971 models, several pushbutton coaches were left unassembled when the production line in Modena went into operation. These unfinished pushbuttons were eventually assembled in 1972.

Shipments of Panteras began reaching the US in May of 1971. Approximately 96 pushbutton Panteras were among the first Panteras shipped to the US. The other 286 pushbutton Panteras were sold by DeTomaso in markets outside North America, predominantly in Europe. Stipulated in the agreement between the two companies, the Ford Motor Company had exclusive rights to import and sell Panteras in North America.

The assembly line produced Panteras began rolling out the door of the deTomaso Automobili assembly plant, on the outskirts of Modena Italy, approximately April 1971. The coaches for all of the Panteras assembled on the assembly line were manufactured by Vignale Carrozzeria in Turin and trucked to Modena for final assembly. To calculate production numbers I have assumed there was no break in the numbering sequence between the last pushbutton Pantera and the first Pantera to roll off the new assembly line at the DeTomaso assembly plant; therefore chassis #1383 would be the first Pantera to roll out the door in Modena. I have no corroboration for this number.

Only 409 Panteras were assembled on the assembly line in Modena as 1971 models, because production began very late in the model year. I will digress for a moment and clarify the term model year. The term is used in the US by manufacturers from a production stand point, to encompass the months during which the cars for that year are actually assembled. Large US auto makers assemble automobiles based on a fiscal year. The model year for 1971 Panteras would have fallen between July 1, 1970 and June 30, 1971. In the US, new models hit the dealer showrooms in September, a full 3 months before the new year. A sales year in the US is therefore from September to August.

There is little to distinguish the 1971 and 1972 model Panteras. The two model years are collectively referred to as “Pre-L” models. The 1971 Panteras featured the 285 bhp 351C 4V motor advertised as having a 10.7:1 compression ratio (actual was 9.7:1), engine code K613J. About 2 months after production began, near the end of the 1971 model year; the 351C 4V motor was replaced by a 280 bhp motor, known as the Cobra Jet, having a true 8.8:1 compression ratio. This motor’s engine code was K621JG. The Cobra Jet motor was carried over into the 1972 model year with a slight change in the engine code, KK621SG. Although lower in compression, the Cobra Jet motor was a better performing motor than the earlier motor, having a hotter camshaft, a larger carburetor and a dual point ignition system. The chassis number for the first 1972 model was #1792; Pantera production for the 1972 model year numbered 2061 units.

In November of 1971 a new model had been introduced to the European market, the Pantera GTS. The Pantera GTS was equipped with several mechanical improvements to enhance the cars performance. I am not aware of the chassis number for the first European GTS, but the lowest GTS chassis number I am aware of is #2014 (November 1971 build date).

The Group 3 and Group 4 race cars were developed and assembled in this same time period (December 1971 – March 1972). The first wide body Pantera road car, the GT4, was an off-shoot of the Group 4 race car program, the first GT4 models (6) were built in January 1972. A fixed number of Group 4 race cars (8) were built in Spring 1972 to compete in the 1972 season of the World Endurance Racing Series, the Group 3 race car was available from the factory on special order from 1972 through 1984.

New emissions and safety laws in the US made changes to the Pantera necessary for sales in the 1973 model year. Changes made to the US market Pantera to comply with the new laws were the addition of 5 mph impact safety bumpers and installation of an emissions certified 8.0:1 compression ratio motor, engine code KK623AG, rated at 264 bhp. A new model designation was applied to the US market Pantera with these mandated features; it was called the Pantera L. The first 1973 Pantera L, chassis #4269, was assembled in August of 1972 for a late 1972 introduction. Since “L” production did not begin until August, the 416 pre-L models built during the months of July and August 1972, chassis 3853 through 4268, were technically 1973 models. The Pantera L was also sold in Europe during model years 1973 and 1974 although the European spec Pantera L was not equipped with the 5 mph impact safety bumpers of the US version. The GT4 and Group 3 Panteras were also available to
European customers.

Chassis #5900 was the first Pantera assembled for the 1974 model year (known within Ford as job 1). The US market Pantera L and the European market GTS, GT4 and Group 3 Panteras remained in production for the 1974 model year. Additionally, Ford offered a US spec GTS model to the US market for the 1974 model year. Sales of that model numbered 138 units (98 to the 49 states, 40 redocumented as 1973 models for California). The US spec Pantera GTS was visually identical to its European cousin, but mechanically the US spec GTS was unchanged from the Pantera L. Due to the falling out between Ford and the DeTomasos, all references to DeTomaso were removed from the coach of the US spec GTS and replaced with either GTS or Ghia badges (by this time Ford controlled Ghia and Vignale, Vignale is where the coaches were assembled, so Ford was able to alter the badging even though final assembly was still performed by DeTomaso in Modena).

Panteras destined for North America were assembled for Ford through early August of 1974. The last Pantera shipped to the US by Ford was chassis #7380. However Pantera GTS models with chassis numbering beyond 7500 (7505 is currently the highest chassis number known to me) were assembled for European delivery through 1976. There were 2047 Panteras assembled for the 1973 model year, and 1323 for the 1974 model year. Pantera assembly continued in the months of July and August of 1974, and although technically built in the 1975 model year, they are universally considered as 1974 models. Spanning chassis numbers 7223 through 7380, these 158 Panteras assembled in model year 1975 lumped in with the 1323 built in model year 1974; boost the 1974 production number to 1481.

If chassis #7380 was the last Pantera to roll off the assembly line in Modena, then there were possibly 6380 Panteras assembled between the years 1971 and 1974. Subtracting 382 pushbutton Panteras would indicate 5998 Panteras were assembled on the assembly line. According to US NHTSA data, 5262 Panteras were shipped to the US. Subtracting 5262 from 6380, 1118 Panteras were therefore sold in either Canada or by DeTomaso in markets outside of North America (predominantly European markets) during the same time frame. Some people argue with the NHTSA import figure, however, considering the NHTSA was an outside agency, I believe this figure is the best we have to work with. There is insufficient data at this time to determine the year, model and destination information for the approximately 1118 Panteras that were delivered outside of the US during 1971 through 1974.

There were approximately 125 unfinished Pantera coaches manufactured by Vignale left over after Ford ceased importing Panteras to North America. Since Ford owned Vignale at that time, and had no use for the coaches, they were sold to DeTomaso. These left over coaches became the foundation for the Panteras manufactured in the years 1975 and 1976. The chassis numbers of the Panteras assembled from these coaches are uncertain, however I have assumed they began with chassis number 7381 and ended with chassis number 7505. Chassis 7505 is the highest numbered Vignale chassis known to me. All of these coaches were assembled as Pantera GTS, Group 3 or GT4 models; there were no Pantera L models manufactured after Ford importation to North America ceased. There is a likely possibility that there was no gap in the chassis numbering sequence between the last Pantera manufactured for Ford and the Panteras built from the leftover coaches, as the coaches had probably already been stamped with VIN numbers.

When the coaches acquired from Ford ran out, deTomaso contracted with Carrozzeria Maggiora to manufacture Pantera coaches. Pantera GTS, Group 3 and GT4 models assembled with Maggiora coaches were built during the years 1977 and 1978 beginning with chassis number 9001. Why the chassis numbering sequence jumped from approximately 7500 to 9000 is unknown to me.

DeTomaso Modena and Carrozzeria Maggiora had a falling out, rumored over problems with the quality of the coaches. DeTomaso found it necessary to issue a recall to reinforce the chassis of the Panteras assembled with Maggiora coaches. Less than 100 Panteras were assembled with Maggiora coaches. Chassis number 9074 is listed on Ben Tyer’s QV500 web sight, so I know at least 74 were manufactured. In 1979 DeTomaso contracted with Carrozzeria Embo to manufacture Pantera coaches for them. All remaining Panteras, including the Si model, were assembled using coaches manufactured by Embo.

The first Pantera GTS assembled with an Embo coach was numbered as chassis 9101, and built in 1979. The first GT5 is officially chassis number 9250, however the GT5 with the lowest chassis number known to me is chassis 9107, both were manufactured circa 1980. The first GT5-S, chassis 9375, was manufactured circa late 1984. Pantera GTS, Group 3 and GT5 models were manufactured concurrently. The GTS, Group 3 and GT5 were replaced by the GT5-S. The final Pantera of this series, a GT5-S, chassis number 9562, was manufactured in 1990. A significant number of the Panteras assembled with Embo coaches were grey market imported into the US between the years 1979 and 1989, but exact figures are not available. The importers include Barry Gale & Steve Hitter (Panteramerica), Kirk Evans (Amerisport), George Stauffer (Stauffer Classics Ltd) and Steve Wilkinson (Panteras by Wilkinson). The last GT5-S imported into the US was an Amerisport, chassis number 9494.

Although the factory has recognized chassis 9250 as the first GT5 model, GT5 Panteras with chassis numbers lower than 9250 are known to exist. The GT5 with the lowest chassis number known to me is 9107. To my knowledge it has not been determined if these lower numbered GT5 cars were originally GTS models that were later retrofitted as GT5 models, or if they were built as GT5 models by the factory, in which case they were possibly assembled out of sequence. The production history of the Pantera is full of instances wherein cars were built out of sequence. There is also a possibility that DeTomaso began building GT5 models before they were formally announced to the public, as there is at least one GT4 with GT5 bodywork. The GT5 evolved from the GT4, just as the GT5-S evolved from the GT5.

Although the GTS, Group 3 and GT5 were replaced by the GT5-S beginning with chassis 9375, several GTS models and at least two GT5 models were assembled after chassis number 9375. It is assumed at this time that the later GTS and GT5 models were special ordered by customers, however all Panteras built with Embo coaches were essentially special ordered.

The final Pantera model, the Pantera Si, was produced from 1990 to 1993; the chassis were numbered 9601 to 9641. The coaches for the Si model were also manufactured by Carrozzeria Embo. This last Pantera was equipped with a fuel injected Ford 5.0 liter V8 and catalytic converters, making it legal for the US market. Although this Pantera model was intended for the US market, none were ever imported.

The DeTomaso web site claims there were a total of 7260 Panteras manufactured. My figures total 7082.

Vignale coach
1971 model year (July 1970 – June 1971) chassis 1001 – 1791: 791
Ford Spec Pushbutton model: 382 (chassis 1001 – 1382)
Ford Spec Pre-L model: 409 (chassis 1383? - 1791)

1972 model year (July 1971 – June 1972) chassis 1792 – 3852: 2061
Ford Spec Pre-L
European GTS
GT4: 6
Group 3: 2
Group 4: 8

1973 model year (July 1972 – June 1973) chassis 3853 – 5899: 2047
Ford Spec Pre-L chassis 3853 – 4268: 416
Ford Spec L chassis 4269 – 5899
European GTS
Group 3: 9

1974 model year (July 1973 – June 1974) chassis 5900 – 7222: 1323
Ford Spec L
Ford Spec GTS: 133
European GTS
Group 3: 2

1975 model year (July 1974 – August 1974) chassis 7223 – 7380: 158
Ford Spec L
Ford Spec GTS: 5
European GTS
Group 3

Post Ford (September 1974 – 1976) chassis 7381 – 7505?: 125
Group 3: 5

Maggiora coach
(1977 – 1978) chassis 9001 – 9074?: 74
Group 3

Embo coach
(1979 – 1984) chassis 9101 – 9374: 274
Group 3

(1985 - 1990) chassis 9375 – 9562: 188
GTS: 4
GT5: 2
GT5-S: 182

(1990 - 1993) chassis 9601 – 9641: 41
Si: 41

Grand total = 7082
Last edited by George P
Wow George! That is a great read. Thanks a million. It makes me realize just how rare my car really is. I think I read somewhere where my car is one of only five real honest to goodness europeon GTSs to ever make it over here. I have the ONLY one in the country that came FROM the factory painetd black. Yep, I got a gem.
Did I ever tell you I love my car????????
Originally posted by george

The last pushbutton Pantera is currently thought to be chassis # 1382, built in the spring of 1971.

Your friend on the DTBB, George
Uh Oh, I'm having an identidy crisis, I thought I was Lastpb. Well if Comp2 has 1282 dated 72. Who knows? I'm still keeping LPB! Thanks george. I printed your reply for my Pantera folder. BTW, George, are you and Nora still coming over for the game on Sunday? I'm really looking forward to it!! Big Grin
Originally posted by lastpushbutton:
BTW, George, are you and Nora still coming over for the game on Sunday? I'm really looking forward to it!! Big Grin

Well Bill, South Carolina is a bit far. I wish we were closer. Maybe you'll talk me into leaving Fillmore one of these days, keep trying.

I never know when Nora will walk in the door. We're not a couple, just friends.

I'll most likely be pulling the ZF out of 6018 this weekend, if I'm not making the drive to Morro Bay to help MB Lotus.

And about your identity crisis, you'll always be LPB to me.(Likable Painter Bill)

Your friend on the DTBB, George
Originally posted by jeff6559:
It is widely agreed that there were problems with the counts since the factory did not keep very good records and they were rather sloppy in assigning VINs.


Jeff, good point, I see the situation a little differently, its not a complete matter of poor record keeping, but a matter of 2 different manufacturers. I doubt ther are any records for the pushbuttons, but I'm sure Ford kept good records for the Panteras manufactured at the Fossalta plant. However Ford did not share those records with the deTomasos, and as far as I know, Ford has never shared those records with anybody, which makes me wonder if they even exist,or were possibly destroyed. All indications are that the deTomasos kept good records of the Panteras manufactured at the Bruciata plant, and have helped owners over the years with those records. DeTomaso simply has no docuentation of the Panteras assembled during the Ford era.

George your right about the build documentaion,
didn't we have this conversation in my garage one day? From talking with Isabel deTomaso, she seemed to think that all the records of US vehicles were sent up to Ghia when Ford bought it in 73'. Through out my research with Claudia, Tom Tjjarda, Isabel, Henry Ford Muesuem and basically a hundred other people, I'm convinced the records for the US built cars are gone. Isabel has got all the build documentaion for vehicles built for the "rest of the world"...
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