The DeTomaso Pantera first caught my eye when I was 16. Since then no other car has done it for me. I love all kinds of cars - vintage, classics, muscle cars, modern exotics, supercars and every kind of race car. I'm impressed by all of them. And I've driven the piss out of so many of them. But the Pantera was my first and remains my only true love. I guess I'm a 'one car' type of guy.
I saved up enough to buy my first one and then, over the years, added a few more. I ended up modifying them all to varying degrees. When they were perfect, there was nothing left to do except drive them. And I did. Hundreds of thousands of miles! These awesome cars were made to be driven. No garage queens here. Eventually, just maintaining them didn't hold enough of a challenge. so I decided it was time to build my Ultimate Pantera.
I started by building a model that I could study from every angle.
Well... for this 1/12 scale model it took a couple of Lambos and Ferraris. And lots of other parts I fabricated as I experimented with several metal and plastic fills - and went through endless Dremel cutting, sanding and grinding refills.
The model started coming together as I had envisioned my dream Pantera. Wider. Fatter. Tougher. Much meaner than the original 1972 - which was pretty cool when I first saw it. And lower and sharper than the Group 4 and GT5 Panteras and I had grown up with. Even edgier than the later GT5-S and final Si cars DeTomaso produced in various arts of the world into the 1990s. This build would finally improve all the things that had bothered me about all my previous Panteras sitting in my garage all those years.
Here’s the finished model of what will become my 1000 HP killer. BESTIA. The Italian Beast ...with modern styling and convenience.
I knew which engine I would build to push this monster long before I started. And I had carefully researched all the modern tech that would be appropriate to improve the Pantera experience. But performance, function and convenience would remain the most important features, enabling me drive this car fast, safe and comfortable. And this car would encompass simplified access to all its components, enabling easier repairs and the inevitable modifications in the future. A Beast like this will remain a work in process for its lifetime.
I would be stealing headlights and tailights from other vehicles as I went down the down the long road of building this car. But the first step was to establish that the dimensions I had planned would look right when scaled up for full size fabrication.
The real challenge would be finding the right car to start with.
Here's the 1/12th scale Bestia model sitting on my 1982 GT5.
THANK YOU DICK DRENSKE
Once I knew what I was going to build, I traveled thousands of miles trying to find the ideal chassis to start with. The hunt for the perfect platform took a year. I saw Panteras of every description. Basket cases. Finished cars. And everything in between. The one prerequisite I needed was strength. I needed a chassis that would be able to handle the stress that 1000 hp would put on it. I met with several chassis experts who had welded Pantera seams more than once. I studied how to stiffen the DeTomaso monocoque and allow for an updated suspension to perform at its best. Then one day I came across Dick Drenske's race car sitting in a shop in Orange, CA. He had raced this car for 10 years. It had already been thru the ultimate proving ground. He was a well known engineer and had developed some interesting chassis mods. I took it for a ride through the California mountains and made the deal!
This car was well sorted and would make the perfect platform for my build.
Here's our first ride with the new engine and wheels. No nitrous yet and rev limiter set very low, at 5000 RPM. Turn up the volume!