Your Ride: 1974 DeTomaso Pantera GTS
The DeTomaso Pantera was Ford’s answer to the Corvette in the early 1970s. It featured European styling with American muscle, as the design came from Ghia, and the powerplant came from a Ford-sourced Cleveland 351 racing engine. The V8 was modified with twin turbos, developing 680 horsepower, and the body was designed with the intent of traveling at speeds of 200 mph. Though the car was branded a Ford, and sold in Lincoln/Mercury dealerships, this was no ordinary Ford. And Joe’s Curley's Pantera GTS is no ordinary Pantera. The car went through a full “rotisserie” restoration, and features some very cool personal touches. Read on to find out more. PHOTOS: See More of the 1974 DeTomaso Pantera
How did you acquire your ride?
I was a teenager that had oil running thru my veins and quickly got caught up in drag racing … sometimes at the drag strip (US 30 outside Chicago), other times, well, you know where! I was a diehard Ford guy but somehow, met one Chevy guy I actually liked, Jim McCulloch (big Ford, Chevy and MOPAR rival relationships back then!).
Later my “Chevy friend” migrated over the “thou-shall-not-cross” manufacturer loyalty line and purchased a 1974 Pantera GTS. Jim, who turned out to be a 40-plus year friend, wanted it to be “his own” and began to engineer a twin-turbo system for it (not fashionable in those years). After years of restoration and engine work –and still not complete—I purchased it from him, shipped it to Florida where I had since moved, and spent three or four years completing the car.
What drew you to it when you bought it?
First it was the Pantera Italian design that is so outstanding, it still is relevant against 2014 exotics. Couple that with a yellow and black paint job, front and rear spoilers, and fender flares, it’s just a WOW look! Plus after all Jim’s hard work and money, I didn’t want to see the car go to just any owner.
PHOTOS: See More of the 1974 DeTomaso Pantera Group 4 Competition
Does it have a name?
During the initial stages of getting her running, she has the name “Unfaithful,” because the turbos created so much heat that the carburetor bowls just cooked and caused vapor lock within 15 minutes of driving. After many mechanical alterations, removed the “quarter-windows” and replaced with hand-made custom air vents, fabricated stainless heat baffles to shield the carbonator from the direct turbo heat and venting the rear engine compartment by relocating the A/C condenser (yes, it was at the back of the car), she overcame her heat issues and now runs strong maintaining 190-degrees.
What do you feel like when you drive it?
With her modern-design looks, many admirers think it’s a new exotic “something,” most guessing a Ferrari, so that’s a good thing, right? And at the red light, as the turbos are whining and the cam adds a uneven rumble to the exhaust, the young guys next to you driving “today’s muscle cars” just give you a big thumbs-up … can’t get better than that?
PHOTOS: See more images of the 1970 DeTomaso Mangusta
What you would change about your car, if anything?
Okay, she’s a show queen –albeit a very fast one-- and maybe Jim and I overdid it a bit on the chrome and polished stainless, and the clear Lexan bubble engine cover between the drive and passenger seats may be overkill, BUT, all-in-all I think I’ll just leave her be herself.
Dream accessory for it and why?
What classic car wouldn’t look fabulous with a cute short-skirt model posing alongside, just like at the national car shows … Okay, I dream a lot! At this time, my desired accessory is putting smiles on the faces of the audience at the Cruise-ins and local charity car shows.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2011 DeTomaso Deauville Concept