When the first De Tomaso Pantera was unveiled at the 1970 New York Motor Show, few predicted that it would enjoy a 23-year production run, a raft of derivative designs and shift 7000 units, putting what would otherwise have been a boutique Modena manufacturer well and truly on the map.
Before the Pantera took De Tomaso transatlantic, there were fewer than 500 examples of its first two models combined. But such was the potential that the firm was brought to Ford’s attention, helping De Tomaso grow beyond recognition.
Founded by Argentinian racing driver Alejandro de Tomaso in 1959, the company first specialised in motor racing prototypes before branching out into production cars in 1963. Much of De Tomaso’s early design work was done in partnership with Turin-based Carrozzeria Ghia, resulting in the Vallelunga and Mangusta of the ’60s. However, up against locals such as Ferrari and Lamborghini, De Tomaso was the underdog, but Ford saw it as a key ally.