Adding almost a foot in width to the original car required a lot of support and chassis strengthening everywhere. Then the magical, creative, sheet metal work started the transformation - turning the original into the Beast she would become.
Pantera headlights featured those pop up pods that were cool in the 70s but barely lit up the road in front of you. After chasing down every car on the road looking for an alternative, I settled on these Acura jewel lites. They flash and signal in many ways and will be helpful clearing traffic in front of me.
I never had a clear idea about the front nose when I completed the model. I had yet to find any headlights I liked. But when the new Acuras came out, I jumped at their jewel design and got it to fit perfectly tucked under the leading edge of the front fender. Once this was done we got to work designing the nose and front spoiler.
Although I always liked the look of a low swept roof scoop, this is another fully functional system. A big cutout at the base of the scoop, funnels air directly to the intake and also moves air through the engine bay.
The side scoops assist with air flow into the engine bay. It gets damn hot in there and the roof and side scoops help move air into the engine bay and out through the grilles in the rear face. The two side scoops pop open to access the fuel filler and cooling tanks.
This is a real nice feature of the car. A modern enhancement of the original. Aside from assisting with airflow under the car, the rear diffuser serves as the support for a complex exhaust system hidden behind it that exits from the centre of this piece.
Up front is a custom rad with twin suckers fans. AC condensers are mounted on each side. That's a lot of heat that needs release. A Phase ll impro, these hood scoops help dissipate the heat and prevent the high temps from affecting all the electronics inside the front deck.
This dash is the third version we’ve done - so far. Hopefully it will be the last. The latest Phase ll version features magnetic panels that hide some very cool components. These control a myriad of electronics and vehicle tech and will easily accommodate frequent and regular upgrades.
I have also done several versions of this interior. They’ve ranged from ultra luxury comfort concepts to jet fighter functionality. The latest version is somewhere in between. We’ll see where all this ends up.
Aside from all the modern conveniences like AC, birds eye view cameras and sensors, there are a wide range of modern systems on this car. These include pop open doors, front and rear decks, and side scoops. The Dakota Digital dash provides a full slate of engine and performance data control and measurement. Phase ll added individual front and rear lift kits, fuel and vacuum pumps and with an all new dash, came a range of exterior and interior controls and options.
After much suspension setup work and several versions, we started from scratch and built chrome moly a-arms with modified suspension pickups. Following this we tried out various shock settings and spring weights. We still have a lot of miles to put on so it remains a work in progress and will change over the next while.
We went through a few versions of wheels. First we had to get the right dimensions to build the fenders and try out some suspension ideas. Not everything worked out the way we planned. And after miles of testing we determined what we had to do. Along with major changes to the fenders and suspension we ended up with much improved handling and dramatic new set of wheels.
The engine build itself didn't require much modification from the original plan. But a few components were changed after miles of testing, tuning and driving in different conditions. It is possible to have a nicely behaved, killer nitrous motor. You can be cool in traffic, enjoy long cruises and still call on endless with power when you want it.
Having individual front and rear lift kits makes getting on and off trailers a snap. These also help me navigate driveways, curbs and the ever growing size and number of speed bumps now making up part of the landscape of our city streets.
This crazy exhaust has two main options - loud and really loud. It consists of 2 bullets and 1 muffler on each bank for a total of 6 cans trying to contain the sound of this beast. They are mounted with some unique plumbing up inside the rear diffuser. Electric cut-offs shut off these mufflers and open to straight pipes exiting out the centre of the rear.
These tail lights were one of many refinements I made during Phase ll - after the car was complete. It took a long time to settle on these Lexus RC 350 lites. And once we started cutting ...well, we just kept going.
I was quite happy to keep the original Pantera rear. Lights and all. At least the car would be recognizable and still maintain some of its originality. But in the end I was convinced by everyone else that the back was for too plain for such an extreme build. So for Phase ll, after finding the right tail lights to use, we started cutting. And never stopped. Aside from creating an exit for the flow of air thru the engine bay, we now have something quite unique and at least equal to the dramatic front nose.
After a year and a half of adding the final revisions to the body we got it into paint. Now that the changes were done, we could complete a much more detailed job on the finishing. This led to seeing the car in a whole new light. I had the bodyshop use a white primer to see what the possibility was. And after much brainstorming I decided to go with a pure gloss white finish. I realized that I could always wrap it in black matte if this didn't work out.
Gone are the fat fenders and body side moulding. And we've added an all new rear face and taillights. Aside from these are many improvements:
See the other sections on this Journey page for more info and pics
on many of these new additions and improvements.
Thank you Jerry Sackett for finding me this car and for all your expert advice on every step of this build. Nobody knows Panteras like you do. Special thanks to Josh Winderman the main man throughout this project. You are a true metal artist. Your amazing front nose and rear styling brought this beast to life. Thanks to Eric Urlie for the expert work on the complex exhaust system and especially on the rear diffuser. Thanks to Riley Bright for your attention to detail and great decisions during this final stage of the build. Special thanks to Justin Sackett for locating all those hard to find parts and for the logistics that kept this project on track.
Thanks to Troy Bowen for a killer motor. And thanks to your team at FPS for the great tuning and advice.
Thanks Chris Jarboe for your inspirational interior concepts and state of the art electronics.
Thank you Devin Downs for your advice over the years. These wheels are truly gems!