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I have long watched and read posts here, and even owned and previously had restored another ‘71 Pantera. My first car was returned to stock, and ultimately sold on due to an offer I couldn’t refuse. After missing that car, I decided to start anew ...sort of. This project was in the custody of PIM, in Orange, CA. It was missing its motor, but hands its original trans. Most parts were there, but were covered in several repaints. Jerry at PIM rebuilt me a 351 Cleveland of early Pantera origin, along with rebuilding the tranny, the cooling system, and modernizing the a/c system. However, EVERYTHING else needs attention. 4B1CA43D-57CF-4B85-AB4D-BBB4BA61C87F

This is how it arrived, ridiculous wing and all.


interior isn’t too bad, though it smells worse than it looks.


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Once this was done, I moved on to the brakes. The originals were, for the most part, frozen. The car drove, but stopped quite well on its own during the one or two miles I’ve driven it. I purchased SACC’s Wilwood six piston setup, along with the tandem master cylinder and adapter. This was my first foray into a full brake job on my own, but the guys at SACC were very patient and helpful over the phone.



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Last edited by hej

After watching many on line videos and Motortrend restoration shows to build up my confidence, I cut all these rusted pieces out ...fully. What I could find already fabbed up online (rad support, valance, etc) I purchased, and what I couldn’t I started experimenting in my woodshop to create myself.


granted, my home grown welding skills leave much to be desired ...but I’m getting better, and these pieces are solidly in place.


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As I moved my way down the passenger side, I found an archeologist’s dream in the different layers of bondo, paint, and even spray-in foam filling panel and rocker panel defects/rot.
I cut out the rocker to find a mouse nest, lots of droppings, and even a few peanut shells tucked into the internal panel slots  



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Wow, that's all I can say is WOW! Fantastic work! It takes patience, diligence, & fortitude, you possess them all. Many many guys just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. The job is coming out perfect! We have a few waiting in line for such work, you're hired! Report to Pantera Miami 8 a.m. Monday! Your'e hired! lol.

No, I’m actually in Jacksonville, FL.  I bought the car in October of 2019.  The engine/drivetrain work took until about February of last year, at which point the car was shipped to me here on the East Coast.  My wife (who grew up in a car family) bought me the welder (Harbor Freight) about three years ago as a Christmas present.  It sat for over a year before I had the guts to try little stuff.  I find the biggest challenge is controlling burn through on the thin steel, but I’m getting better ...I think.

Last edited by hej

Off from work today, so while the kids were at school I got busy with body work on the rear side panel and installing the front lower passenger side panel.   Initially bought a manual panel flanging tool ...not worth it.  Did not provide enough torque to create a useful flange.  The Malco tool, however, worked great.  



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A time proven trick when welding thin sheet metal is to back up the area with a sufficiently sized piece of copper.

this can be something as simple as a piece of flattened copper pipe or a fitting.

devise a method to hold it behind your welding area, perhaps attach a long rod handle, hold it in place with magnets, tack weld a thin piece of steel on the backside to hold the copper temporarily in place.

A quick Google or YouTube search will find more information.


I endorse the use of gas with your MIG.

Like you I am self taught on my unit, a Lincoln SP 100 with tank that I purchased off Craig’s List from a homeowner - he was upgrading. It was like new.

A couple of times I have forgotten to turn on the gas and it takes me a while to realize why my welds are so difficult. Really makes a difference.


I’m sure there are plenty of things I’m doing in this resto that would make purists cringe.  With the last few pieces (the rocker and the front lower fender panel) I also applied E6000 panel glue to the seams.  I don’t have the greatest faith in these spot welds and skim coats to keep moisture out, so I figure it can’t hurt.  

The other thing I dread is using too much Bondo.  I’ve been trying very hard to minimize thickness of the layers by making my pieces fit as precise as I can.  But I’m sure anyone looking can tell that this lower front panel I just put on is relatively “flat” in comparison to the curve or bulge native to the lower half of the door and rear panels.  I’m concerned I’m going to have to heap on filler to make up this shape.  In retrospect, I probably should have put the passenger door back on prior to welding in the panel to see if I could have shaped it by hand a bit first.

I was doing much as you are a few years ago.  To contour panels, make flanges and lips, you should anneal the metal in the bend area first; makes things much easier. See you tube for numerous tips and techniques.  Also, an English wheel will come in really handy if you have much more to do.  The HFT unit is sufficient for light use.  See my thread "2548's restoration" if you haven't already.  PS - I'm in Florida too.

This build has a bit of its own agenda. I have a list of items I want to get to, but it seems like I never get to many of them as all other unknowns surface as I go. I’m currently upgrading the suspension. I’ve replaced the rear coil overs with the Ridetechs recommended by SACC. I’ve also purchased the Shockwave HQ 2-valve system for the fronts.  Has anyone installed this system yet?

The next task is body stiffening.  There’s several kits out there which I guess are geared at adding rigidity to the frame when you are unable to remove your interior or don’t want to mess with the existing body/paint work.  However, since I’m restoring this car down to its bones, I’ve chosen a different route.  The weak spots on the Pantera, as I’m told and as I’ve read, are not the ladder shaped frame, but rather the cross members fore and aft of the cockpit as well as the poorly sealed seams in the body work as done by Ghia.  I owned a prior Pantera (also a 1971) which cracked (the paint/body work) at the top of the C-pillar after some spirited driving.  Turns out, this is one of the weak body seams where Ghia simply spot welded the roof to the body structure and then filled in the gap with lead/flux.  

So, I set off to strip the body work down and melt off the lead (while wearing a resp. mask) and strengthen the seams.  After removing the lead w/a butane flame (it melts away like candle wax and becomes brittle) I welded the seam(s) up as best I could.  0BB9E519-E5EE-4893-A8DB-FD9DEE53D912A1813CDA-90D0-45AD-9B1D-7A5F95BA01E33B95CD49-EE53-4135-B1F4-AAF5BAC953216D36E9D4-A895-4FEC-A1A6-E2ABA20D7BA6

You can see the depth of the lead.  This particular spot is the C-pillar on the driver’s side.  


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I also spoke at length with Jerry Sackett, owner of Pantera International Motorsports in SoCal (he rebuilt my engine/trans/cooling system.  He pointed out that the stress ultimately finds itself along the inner aspects of the rocker panels, thus allowing for the twisting in the body.  Soooo …I followed his advice and had supports built.  

I made paper patterns of the inner rockers, then cut cardboard pieces to outline the contour of each side.  I could a local Metal/machine shop here in Jax, FL to manufacture the braces for me at a cost of $150 each.  F8404502-8728-417D-8D2C-C8D1AA923F1541532B05-2A8E-4DB4-A506-91CAB2E5F37BA99C0E9D-4D1C-45CD-8CCA-DC2A96C20E95C1480A25-331C-496E-8BC2-1377A43AAED6


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