Having the oldest known example of a car is something few enthusiasts experience, but that appears to be the case with this yellow 1971 De Tomaso Pantera. That was the first year of production for the Ford-powered, mid-engine exotic, and with a VIN ending in 1006, it could well be the oldest Pantera still alive. And it's for sale in Florida with an asking price of $250,000.
Claiming a car is the earliest or first of a run is always tricky, but there's compelling evidence supporting this Pantera owner. According to its listing on eBay, the car is the sixth one built in total, including prototypes. The seller says the first three were display prototypes with no engines. Numbers four and five were reportedly used for crash testing. None of these are known to exist, which takes us to the yellow car here with its VIN ending in 1006. The seller says there's documentation with the car going all the way back to its first owner in Italy, as well as the original delivery book.
Gallery: 1971 De Tomaso Pantera
Photos courtesy of eBay Motors
After nosing around the internet for more information, we happened upon an old forum thread at Pantera International talking about VIN 1006. The details listed there match up with what we see in this auction, suggesting this classic Pantera could well be the earliest model of them all – production or prototype.
Here's where it gets even more interesting. The VIN plate includes a separate identification number for the engine, which is listed as 0004. Apparently, the engine was removed from an earlier prototype and installed in this Pantera. This is mentioned both in the auction and at the Pantera International forum, and it also lines up with the early days of Pantera production, where various bits and pieces were still being fine-tuned to get cars into the hands of excited buyers.
As for this car, the odometer shows 32,202 in photos but that's reportedly in kilometers. The auction lists 18,000 miles, and it also mentions a two-piece grille, different steering wheel, De Tomaso badges on the dash, Ghia badges on the fenders, and a rear hatch release in the door jam as prototype options that weren't used on other production cars. De Tomaso worked with Ford on the Pantera, resulting in a Ford-sourced 5.8-liter V8 engine producing approximately 330 horsepower.
If this is indeed the earliest Pantera still alive, it's hard to gauge what it might be worth. For now, it seems $250,000 is the price for a new owner to take it home.