The initial 1970 models had major quality problems, even frustrating Elvis Presley to the point that he shot his Pantera when it refused to start. However, by 1971 these had been addressed, and the company had a reliable exotic at a reasonable price available at local Ford dealers.
Ford may have stopped importing the car in 1975 due to emissions and safety regulations, but that didn't stop the Pantera from continuing sales in the rest of the world until 1992 for a total of 7,800 cars, 5,600 of which made it to American Lincoln Mercury dealerships. Thanks to this parts sharing, the original DeTomaso Pantera is one of the cheapest to maintain and easiest to modify Italian exotics, making it a perennial favorite with collectors.
After the Pantera ended production, DeTomaso struggled with modest sales of its luxury models and a failed attempt to bring back the Mangusta. In 2008, the bankrupt company was bought by Gian Mario Rossignolo. Under Rossignolo's business plan, the new company will produce a mix of luxury crossovers and sports cars. Reactions to the the new DeTomaso’s SLC crossover concept, a reskinned Cadillac SRX that debuted at the Geneva Auto Show, were mixed, but the auto press and car enthusiasts alike were far more interested in the company’s announcement of a new Pantera. A near-production ready concept was rumored to debut at the Los Angeles Auto show, but DeTomaso recently announced the car's debut will be at the Frankfurt Auto Show a full month ahead of schedule.
What will the new Pantera be like? DeTomaso has been silent, but that hasn't stopped some information from leaking out. A spy video recorded in May reveals a car that has proportions similar to the Lamborghini Murceilago, but with Pantera styling cues including large black air vents behind the side windows.
Due to their collaboration with Cadillac, speculation around the powerplant centers around GM's small block V8. Lighter and more compact than its Italian rivals, the engine powering the Corvette comes in versions producing anywhere from 430 to 638 horsepower. The ZO6's 7 liter LS7 powerplant would be the most logical choice, as it eschews the superchargers of the Z71 to keep weight down while still producing a respectable 505hp.
DeTomaso will restart its operations with a production version of the SLC called the Deauville starting later this year. The production date for the Pantera has not been announced, but Rossignolo has set a goal of 2,000 sports car sales annually.