The Pantera Place
"Your de Tomaso Connection"
Pantera Modifications and Upgrades
By Mike Dailey
One of the awesome things about the Pantera compared to other exotic Italian cars is the many modifications readily available to improve the cars performance. Unlike other collector cars the modifications usually enhance the value of the Pantera. The idea of matching numbers have little value in the Pantera world. Without much work the Pantera can be upgraded to 2002 technology to make the Pantera outperform the hottest and most exotic production cars of today. With some heavy mods the Pantera will even show the Ferrari F40 a few performance tricks and win!
The following are some of the modifications that you might like for your Pantera that are available from your favorite Pantera parts and service vendor:
The stock Pantera suspension is a very well designed coil-over setup with unequal length A arms but it can be upgraded. The typical modifications are polyurethane-graphite A arm and sway bar bushings or new stock bushings, heavier sway bars, fully adjustable shocks and Timken roller bearing uprights. Along with the suspension upgrades, braces are available for the front and back wheelhouses to add more structural rigidity to the body. See the Pantera Place suspension section.
Wheels and Tires
A lot can be gained by just replacing the stock tires with modern radial tires. The common upgrade is 225/50/15 tires on the front and 305/50/15 tires on the back. 10" wide wheels are needed to run the larger back tires. The only fat new tires available in the 15" size are H speed rated (130 mph), usually BFG Euro T/As. The typical upgraded Pantera will have 8" wide wheels on the front and 10" on the back
The move to 16 " or 17" wheels provides the opportunity to run higher speed rated tires for extremely high performance. My preference for Pantera wheels are the Pantera East Campy look-a-likes in the 16"X8" for the front and 17"X11" for the back. It is my opinion that 17" wheels on the front of the Pantera overpower the front of the car. If you plan on pushing the car very hard when moving to the high performance tires the wheelhouse braces should be used to add rigidity to the body and support the high G loads available with the new tires.
The stock Pantera brake system was rated very highly in the early road test of the Pantera. For street use, a new upgraded master cylinder and steel braided brake lines are more than adequate. For track use the sky is the limit, with high performance master cylinder (s), calipers and rotors. The big brake systems usually require larger wheels to clear the brake system.
The Pantera 351 Cleveland engine is a very easily modified component of the Pantera. The typical modifications are an aluminum intake manifold with a Holley 600 or 750 carb, hotter cam, big pipe collector type headers, hotter ignition, roller rockers, big oil pump and baffled and larger oil pan. The early 351 can easily obtain 350 hp with bolt on components and an aggressive cam. With turbo charging or super charging 600+ hp is not unusual. Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) with individual ports for each intake cylinder is a worthwhile upgrade. The EFI eliminates the problems that carbs have with high G loads. The ZF transaxle seems to handle all of this awesome horsepower without problems. The ZF transaxale is of a limited slip design and along with the mid-engine balance of the car traction is not a problem. The the Pantera Place 351 Cleveland section.
The stock radiator is very adequate with the correct radiator tank baffle, correct cooling fans, correct water pump, correct thermostat and the correct cooling system pressure cap. The typical modification is upgraded cooling fans or radiator with more rows in the core or a lay-down radiator with larger sucker type fans mounted on the backside of the radiator. If you are having cooling problems with your Pantera check that the cooling fans are working correctly (and turning the right direction) and that the engine has the correct 351 Cleveland thermostat with the top hat that shunts coolant away from the warm-up re-circulating passage.
For most people the stock Pantera body is the best but some people like to add the GTS type spoiler to the front of the car to help front-end down force at speeds over 130 mph. The back wing used on the GT5 is usually just for looks as it tends to slow the car at high speed. The mid-engine design of the Pantera really doesn’t need more down force on the back of the car. Some people like the GT5 look so kits are available to convert the standard 71 through 74 Pantera to a GT5 with wide wheel flares and wide wheels. The GT5 kits are available in fiberglass or steel but is a very expense project and destroys the original body because the original fender wheel opening must be cut away for wheel clearance. With the retro original look so popular nowadays the GT5 conversions are not very common anymore Cutting or punching holes in the stock Pantera body is not something that should be done without careful consideration, e.g. cutting a $5K deck lid for induction system clearance. Most people that need to cut the stock parts for clearance usually will buy a fiberglass deck lid to cut up and save the super expensive stock parts. It's hard to beat the look of the 71 - 74 stock body Pantera with fat tires and lowered slightly to the Euro height.
A small after market 13" steering wheel or improved seats or leather seats are a common upgrade. A special firewall kit is available to reduce the size of the center hump and provides more space for the right seat to be moved back.
After adding more or larger cooling fans the stock alternator usually can not keep up with the current draw so a 100 amp alternator solves the problem. The stock amp gage is prone to burning or causing fire problems so many of the amp gages are replace with improved units. There is a modification to add relays to off load the ignition switch of the cooling fans and headlight current load.