“The Panter is not a replica. I have tried to conceive a car along modern principles of engineering and performance but with the styling of an era I always admired. I was obviously influenced by the Jaguar SS when I designed the Panther but I do not want people to think it is a copy.” So says Robert Jankel, managing director of Panther Westwinds Ltd, of Weybridge, Surrey.
Bob Jankel’s name may ring a distant bell in the ears of those interested in club racing in the early 1960s. He won a good number of races with Ford Anglias in those days. He was instrumental in forming the Ilford firm of Super-Speed, having previously studied at Chelsea College of Aeronautical and Automobile Engineering. But primarily he was in the fashion industry and became very successful at it too. But a couple of years ago all the challenge had gone and he returned to his first love—motor cars.
Fortunately, with sufficient capital to go it alone he conceived the Panther and worked on the idea. It occurred to him that perhaps he could even put the car into limited production and that is just what he did this June. Jankel hopes to build 70 cars a year.
Similarities with the SS do not end with the shape, for the power unit is Jaguar in what is 3.8 Mk. 2 saloon trim giving about 240 b.h.p. gross. This drives through the latest XJ6 gearbox. The chassis is a robust tubular design separate from the hand-beaten aluminium body. There are beam axles both front and rear located by a five-link system and Armstrong co-axial spring damper units. The 6J Jaguar spoked wheels complete the picture while disc brakes are used all round. This set-up gives superb handling on smooth surfaces although, naturally, things tend to get rather hectic when the going is rough. Undoubtedly the Panther is tremendously exhilerating to drive. The power-to-weight ratio is fairly dramatic and so is the acceleration. The 0-60 m.p.h. is a staggering 6.4 sec. with the help of a limited slip differential-that is quicker than a Morgan +8- and a standing quarter-mile can be covered in a fraction over 15 sec. The top speed is not so impressive for the frontal area (see top photograph) takes over and the Panther is unlikely to exceed 115 m.p.h. For that matter the Panther likes fuel and its 14 m.p.g. seems even more thirsty than we had expected.
Naturally a good number of members of the VSCC will view the Panther with an extreme degree of distrust. But the only way to judge the car is to drive it and that is certainly an unforgettable experience.
One hopes that the customers which the car attracts are not all pop superstars, football heroes and King’s Road boutique entrepreneurs. Certainly, at £4,380 tax paid, only those with extremely healthy bank accounts can afford to be genuinely interested. If I won the pools I would add the Panther to my dream stable. A. R. M.