The Pantera Place
"Your de Tomaso Connection"

Pantera Restoration Ideas

By Mike Dailey

If you have read my page on buying a Pantera, you know it is pretty hard to find a prefect Pantera that has everything completely restored and rebuilt. Most people that buy a Pantera find that their dream car will need some work to make it truly their ultimate dream machine. Any thirty year old car will need some restoration work and every owner has a different idea of what a perfect Pantera should be.

Completely restoring and rebuilding a Pantera can be a long a labor-intensive task. When you checked out your dream car before purchased, you most likely found a few things that need repairing and made note of them. After you got the car home you probably found some more repair items that you didnít notice until you drove the car for awhile. This is life with thirty year old cars!

The approach I took with my Pantera was to make up an extensive list of every item that I knew that I wanted to restore, repair or upgrade and I had one advantage of the previous owner keeping a list of repairs and upgrades done to the car for the four years that he owned the car. I was able to review the items completed by the previous owner and decide if was the solution I wanted or did they need more maintenance because of the time element, e.g. battery replacement.  

I then took my list and prioritized the items in order of sequence, priority and cash flow, e.g. I didnít invest in expensive wheels and tires before I was sure that the suspension was in good shape, I didnít rebuild the suspension until the front cross member and valance was replaced. I broke up each area into small projects, front suspension, back suspension and what items needed to be out-sourced, e.g. front valance and AC system evac and recharge.  Projects can even be broken into sub projects, e.g. rebuild the right front suspension as one sub project and then do the left front.   Or like I did with my A/C upgrade that I worked on over a number of months collecting parts and then implemented the upgrade in steps.    

On the out-sourced items I worked though how I could do some of the work myself. This approach resulted in a three-and-one-half year project window but my car was derivable most of that time. Some of the projects could be done in the evenings during the week so I didnít miss our Atlanta Donut Derelicts car meet every Saturday.  But items like replacing the head liner kept slipping to end of the list because I knew it was a ugly and dirty job!

The key element was the enjoyment and discovery of Pantera ownership for three-and-one-half years rather than having the car completely torn apart for years. The cash flow of investment in the car also worked out well by spreading it out over time. Iíve meet a number of Pantera owners that went with the complete all-at-one-time restoration approach and they found that it was very easy to lose enthusiasm in the project after slugging away at it for six months and seeing slow progress or in the end no progress. I found that it works well to take the small bite size approach to the process and keep your enthusiasm for the Pantera.  The other thing to guard against is an un-driven Pantera that sits for a long duration tends to have system failures because lack of use.  Brakes, hydraulics, engine, cooling system, transaxle and electrical motors are examples of things that work better when the are used some and not sitting for months on end.     

Every item on my list is done now other than the normal maintenance, e.g. change oil and fluids, check adjustments. As time goes on new items can be added to a new list, brake upgrade, hotter engine, new paint but all the basic items are done now.  Some items like new paint may never be done because of the uncertainty of the outcome.  The ten year old paint still looks pretty good (no door dings, etc) and who knows a new $7K - $10k paint job might be disappointing!     

You can find many of my Pantera projects documented in the technical section of The Pantera Place and you can also see the three year evolution of my Pantera.  It's been a lot of fun and I'm sure I'm not done yet!

Typical Pantera Punch List

This list assumes that you do not know the history of your new Pantera and have no service records and is in order of the typical priority.

1. Drain cooling system,  replace all hoses (including two under dash), replace pressure cap, refill and check for leaks.  
2. Flush brake fluids and bleed. 
3. Flush hydraulic clutch and bleed.  
4. Drain ZF and replace lube.
5. Change engine oil and filter and tune-up 
6. Replace engine drive belts
7. Check steering rack bushing and replace if necessary.
8. Rebuild front suspension if needed. 
9. Rebuild back suspension if needed. 
10. Install headlight and fan motor relay mods.
11. Replace headliner
12. Refurbish A/C system
13. Check headlight motor gear.
14. Check power window motor gears.
15. Wheels and tires