"Your de Tomaso Connection"
Wheel Alignment - Gran Turismo East
By Mike Dailey
After completely rebuilding the front and back suspension on the Pantera the next step was finding a shop that could do the alignment. I decided to used Gran Turismo East, located in Atlanta. The work was performed by one of the owners, Jeff Mills, an expert on Panteras and other exotic cars. Jeff used a Hunter D4 11 alignment system with DSP 250 remote units for the wheels. Jeff had just completed the alignment on a Lamborghine Diablo SV the day before, so it looked like my Pantera would be in good company.
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Gran Turismo East, Inc. 770-455-0347, 3306 Shallowford Road, Chamblee, GA 30341
The first step was getting the car on the alignment rack. I appreciated Jeff letting me drive the Pantera onto the rack.
The car was then positioned on the alignment pads.
Next, the remote alignment units were attached to the wheels.
The Hunter system was started.
Next, the back of the car was lifted by the lower outside of the A arms. The back wheels are then turned so that the remote unit can self adjust for any variance in the wheel rim run-out. Note the pads Jeff located under the A arms to save the A arm finish.
The back end was lowered back down on the wheels and then the front end remote units where checked the same way.
Next, the outer clamps on the steering rack boots were loosened so that the tie rods could be turned to adjust the toe-in setting.
Jeff adjusts the the front end camber and toe-in.
Jeff looks at the screen on the Hunter system as he adds some shims to adjust the toe-in on the back wheels. The screen on the hunter system updates real time as Jeff makes the adjustments. The Hunter screen image shown above shows the progress of Jeff's adjustments not the final result. Care must be taken not to over tighten the lower A arm mounts as the frame rails can be crushed.
The wheel house brace on my Pantera is adjustable and sometime in the past someone had tightened it super tight causing some outward wheel house flex. While the car was on the rack Jeff and I loosened the brace adjustment and set it for the normal outward pressure on the wheel house bracket stops. The brace should exert some outward pressure but not flex the wheel houses. Apparently, someone had been using the brace to impact the back wheel camber. I'm not sure why they would do this, because with the brace correctly adjusted the wheel camber was perfect.
All of the alignment worked perfectly and I was very pleased to find that the left front of the car aligned correctly after all of the work that Bill had done to the left frame rail and cross member. Thanks to Bill Engwer's craftsmanship, the front to back position of the left front wheel was within .030 inches of the right front wheel and the caster was within .4 degrees . The lateral alignment position of the back wheels to the front wheels was within .020 inches. Nice job thanks go to Bill on the reconstruction of my front frame, cross member and front valance!
The recommended alignment settings for the Pantera suspension listed in the de Tomaso Pantera Technical Service Bulletin Number 5, Article Number 33 have + or - specs and can be adjusted within the spec for your driving requirements.
Factory recommended alignment settings:
Camber, 1/8 degrees neg to 1/8 degrees pos.
Caster, 2-3/4 degrees pos.
Camber, 3/8 degrees neg to 5/8 degrees neg
Toe-in 1/8" to 3/16"
Jeff discussed with me what kind of driving I planned to do with the car and we decided to tune the settings on the side of good tire wear, stability and less of the all-out-to-the-max performance side. Also, all of my suspension parts are brand new and the camber setting will increase over time as the A arm bushings compress some.
On the early Panteras like my car #1887, the front caster can't be changed. On later Panteras the upper A arm area that holds the ball joint was made wider and shims added to provided movement of the the ball joint position for caster adjustment.
The following are how the final settings looked:
Camber, Left 0.5 degrees, Right 0.5 degrees.
Caster, Left 1.8 degrees, Right 1.4 degrees.
Toe-in total, 0.12"
Camber, Left -0.6 degrees, Right -0.6 degrees
Toe-in total, 0.21"
Jeff did a super great job on the alignment. He was very careful to make sure the alignment was perfect and he handled my car with the care that exotic cars deserve. Especially my Pantera!
After installing my new Pantera East wheels that have the correct backspace, the ride height changed slightly so I took the car back to have the alignment rechecked. The ride height increased by about 1/2" with the new wheels.
The alignment changed slightly but we did not make any adjustments as everything was within spec.
Camber, Left 0.5 degrees, Right 0.7 degrees.
Caster, Left 2.4 degrees, Right 1.9 degrees.
Toe-in total, 0.03"
Camber, Left -0.6 degrees, Right -0.5 degrees
Toe-in total, 0.12"
The change in ride height and front wheel backspace seemed to have some impact on the caster. More is better.