Tim Suddard Publisher
July 28, 2009 3:58 p.m.

Some say the De Tomaso Pantera found its way into Ford dealerships in 1970 because Lee Iacocca wanted a sports car that his dealers could offer to match the Corvette. Certainly, Ford hadn’t had a sports car to attract customers since the earliest Thunderbirds. That would be the business justification for the involvement with De Tomaso/Ghia and the development of the Pantera.

Others say the De Tomaso project took shape out of Henry Ford II’s ego and pride. When Enzo Ferrari imperiously turned down Ford’s buyout offer, “The Deuce” had to prove he could beat the Modena magnate at his own game, so he developed the GT40s to beat him at Le Mans and hooked up with De Tomaso Automobili to beat him on the showroom floor.

Regardless of which interpretation of history you prefer, the fact is that for a brief period from 1971 to 1974, the exotically styled but reasonably affordable Pantera, with a Ford Cleveland V8 stuffed amidships, could be purchased from your local Lincoln-Mercury dealer. And that means that today you can buy a classic Italian supercar at less than muscle car prices, and get most of the mechanical and engine parts for it through Ford restoration specialists.

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