The Perfect 1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS Doesn't Exist, This One Comes Pretty Close

1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS 12 photos
Photo: Barrett-Jackson
1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS
There are some cars in this world that far exceed the status of classic, cult, or collector's vehicles. Briefly transiting our world, these vehicles are so rare and exquisite that to many people in the business of collecting rare machines, they are simply the stuff of dreams. And that's what they are for many of us, the ones looking from the sidelines, as well.
One of these vehicular unicorns is, naturally, the De Tomaso Pantera. The mid-engine sports car, born back in the 1970s from the mind of Ghia designer Tom Tjaarda, was in production for quite some time (from 1971 to 1992), but not that many of them were made (around 7,200 examples rolled off the lines) - making the model one of the most coveted such cars in the world, more valuable to some people than say a classic Chevrolet Corvette or Porsche 911.

During the years Italian carmaker De Tomaso made these things, several variants of the Pantera were produced, including a sportier variant called GTS. Introduced back in 1972, it came as an offshoot of Group 3 racing cars, thus it packed a more powerful, 345 horsepower engine of Ford provenance, but also wider wheels, improved brakes, and several unique body elements in matte black.

For many collectors, the Pantera GTS remains to this day one of the most sought-after collectibles, and finding one that is in almost pristine condition is what they all dream of. But whereas it is almost impossible to know for sure how many of them are in this original state, the one we have here, mildly improved, comes as close to perfection as possible.

The car was originally produced in 1972, and it is said to be one of just 138 GTS versions made that year. It packs under the body a Ford Cleveland engine that's 351ci in displacement and "stock," safe for the fitting of an improved cold air intake and bettered exhaust. The unit still runs a five-speed manual transmission.

As I said, the car is mildly improved compared to how it came off the lines, but that does not translate into some senseless custom work. Modifications mostly target the functional aspects of the Pantera in an attempt to make it even better than it originally was.

1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS
Photo: Barrett-Jackson
For instance, the adjustable rear shock now rocks a tower brace, and the cooling system was bettered with the fitting of a new radiator, water tubes, and the revision of the flow system. Then, the air conditioning system was relocated to the front of the vehicle.

The unnamed people who worked on the Pantera also tampered with the car's wiring and ignition in a bid to improve them both. On the interior, the black leather seats and door panels seem even more pristine after the radio was removed from the equation for a cleaner look.

The car is painted in Brilliant Silver but rocks a GTS-style blacked-out hood and engine cover. The connection to the ground is made through custom billet wheels of undisclosed dimensions that have been designed in such a way as to resemble the original ones.

We found the car listed by auction house Barret-Jackson for the sale it plans to host in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the start of October. The listing says that all the modifications made to this incredible De Tomaso Pantera, be them in the form of the materials used or improvements performed, have been made with help from "Pantera experts from California, the Midwest and South Florida."

That's understandable, given how the American market was the prime target for De Tomaso with this vehicle back in the day. In fact, of the entire run of vehicles produced during two decades or so, almost 75 percent were sold in the States by none other than De Tomaso's partner in crime with this project, Ford (through Lincoln-Mercury dealers).

We're told the status of this particular car as a GTS is confirmed by the GT letters included in the VIN of the vehicle.

1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS
Photo: Barrett-Jackson
Despite being one of the most impressive pieces of engineering of its decade, this Pantera was never used properly. Its odometer reads only a little over 16,600 miles (26,700 km) of travel distance, and that's not in small part owed to the fact the car was kept for most of its life in a climate-controlled garage as part of a collection called Prestige.

Barrett-Jackson will sell most of the cars this fall with no reserve, and the De Tomaso Pantera we have here is no exception. That means we don't know how much the current owner expects to fetch for it. We do know, however, how much valuation specialist Hagerty estimates one to be worth, you know, just to get an idea of what to expect: $170,000.

The actual sale price of this one is, of course, not influenced by that estimation, but the fact that the car goes with "several original Pantera parts and original electrical schematic" might help in driving the final figure up.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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