DeTomaso Pantera by Wallace Wyss and Dave & Linda Adler
David and Linda Adler are a husband-wife historian team that have long been involved with chronicling the history of DeTomaso cars. Together with Wallace Wyss, they recently completed a photo essay book on the Pantera.
Here they answered our reporter's questions about the new book and the DeTomaso scene.
Q. What is the image of the DeTomaso car in the U.S.?
I think that it is seen as a hot rod by some and as an Italian exotic by others. But definitely more hot rod than Italian.
I like to think that the blend of Italian styling and the Ford blue oval appeals to enthusiasts at several different levels. The fact that the Pantera is a true mid-engine exotic also distinquishes it from other
collector cars. Sadly, the DeTomaso brand is fading from the scene with the
demise of the factory as well as the death of the founder. I fear it is becoming an obscure marque.
Linda Adler: I think it is one of the sexiest cars ever built. People familiar with the Pantera are sure to appreciate the styling and performance
aspects. Unfamiliar folks simply think it is a Lamborghini or Ferrari with weak mufflers.
Q. Why did you decide to do this book?
Wyss: I have done several picture books for Iconografix and they are looking for niches to enter that the big player in the game, Motorbooks, has
overlooked. They realized that there were no DeTomaso picture books so they
decided to do a picture book on that car. And David and Linda Adler has just sold the Pantera International Club so had time to look back on the many
trips they have taken to foreign countries to document DeTomaso cars and
Dave Adler: Having exquisite interest in the DeTomaso marque, I have had the good fortune to accumulate a large archive of photos, particularly of
modified Panteras both here and in Europe. I was looking for an outlet to share these images with other enthusiasts. This book offered the perfect
opportunity for that.
Linda Adler: When my husband was taking the pictures, I took notes on the
owners and their cars for our Pantera International data bank. When we had
the opportunity to go forward with the new book, I had this stored information to help document the depicted cars.
Q. Does your book have many historical pictures?
Wyss: A few but mostly it is Panteras shot in modern times, most of which are heavily customized to suit the owners' tastes.
Dave Adler: We submitted a few from our library, however, the central theme of the book was to demonstrate owner's cars and the modifications made.
Indeed, these modifications have been a key attraction or gateway to the
marque. Owners enjoy updating and modifying these cars and this new title gives them a sampling of the array of changes that can be made without
totally spoiling the look of the car.
Linda Adler: We hope to work with Wallace in the future on a historical title. We have already published the essential DeTomaso history book in our
book, DeTomaso, the Man and the Machines.
Q. So Pantera owners don't spend time going to dead stock?
Wyss: No, it's sort of everyman's car to customize. They think nothing of adding wheel well flares, non stock wheels, redoing the interior. Where in
the Ferrari and Maserati camp, such individual customizations are frowned
Dave Adler: Part of the problem is defining what dead stock even is. There are less than a dozen, bone-stock cars that we have ever encountered. Even
while the Pantera program was underway, even the factory was offering
modified cars to customers willing to pay the tab.
Linda Adler: Few Panteras make their way into museums or static displays. Happily, most owners use and enjoy their cars. The cooling system as an
example was sub-standard and it is rare to find an original radiator and
fan-set in place. Does upgrading these important items to a modern aluminum unit defeat a Pantera being deemed dead stock? In our showroom, we carry
from 6 - 12 or more Panteras for sale. The cars that sit for the longest period of time without a sale are the original or stock ones. Go figure!
(Check out www.pim.net for our current inventory).
Q. Do you concentrate just on U.S. based cars?
Wyss: No, because many of the people whose cars are featured are members of DeTomaso clubs in Europe so we have cars from England, Sweden, Norway,
Dave Adler: We tried to weight the book with a fair representation of both American and European cars. As a rule, we found the European owners to be
the most aggressive in terms of their use and enjoyment of their cars, touring in them on their holidays, sometimes over hundreds or thousands of
miles, from Stockholm to Italy as an example.
Linda Adler: The European owners are less likely to modify their cars as extensively as American owners do. A European owner must be mindful of the
particularly in Sweden stress reliability over leading edge modifications
laws of their countries which might preclude adding wider rims and tires as an example or increasing the horsepower. The European owners we have met, like turbocharging or 20 inch bling-bling wheels like an American owner
might execute on their Pantera.
Q. Is there much in the book about previous DeTomaso cars, previous to the Pantera?
Wyss: Yes, there are some shots of the Mangusta, which all the authors think is the car that put DeTomaso on the map and then there's the Vallelunga, and
one shot of a mid-engined V8 prototype Can Am car.
Dave Adler: We sprinkled in a few pictures of some other DeTomaso offerings, however, we tried to stay true to the title, DeTomaso Pantera, and didn't want to get too far off track.
Linda Adler: I enjoy all of the DeTomaso offerings, however, most people interested in the marque think the sun rises and sets on the Pantera and
have little interest in any of the other cars.
Q. You got Tom Tjaarda to write the forward. Who's he?
Wyss: He's the designer who worked at Ghia when Ford came to buy the Mangusta. But then Ford found out the Mangusta was built in too slipshod a
way for them to back it so they bought in on a new car, a unitized chassis
car, that became the Pantera.Tom is from Detroit, the son of a famous car engineer, but he's been in Italy for almost 50 years.
Dave Adler: Tom Tjaarda in my opinion is the face of DeTomaso in this country. Seldom has their been a visit by the DeTomaso family to this country. However, Mr. Tjaarda has been a great spokesperson for the marque
in general and has been generous with his time and has participated in our
club activities as well as consulting with us on this book.
Linda Adler: Tom is a real gentleman and in my judgment, one of the greatest living designers in the world. He works daily in his studio in Torino on all
types of interesting projects, such as the new Shelby Series II. He is never
too busy to answer a question when asked or to travel to the 'States to represent the marque, often times at no compensation. I adore him.
Q. What do you think will make the book a success?
Wyss; Well, the answer to that is that there has never been enough information out there on the Pantera compared to other cars. There must be
twenty Ferrari titles for every one title on DeTomaso. We not only show the
car in U.S. spec. form as imported to the U.S, which accounted for some 6,500 cars, but show the versions marketed in Europe and the UK afterwards
including the GT-5, GT5-S and the Neuvo Pantera.
Dave Adler: So far, the reviews have been very good. We think as word gets around, sales will build. Artistically, I am satisfied with the final product.
Linda Adler: As far as the book being a sales success, I think that will come to pass. The book has met my expectations in that the photos and
captions we submitted were printed by the publisher. The quality of the printing is quite high and the variety of cars depicted is pleasing.
Q. Does the book take a stance on whether DeTomaso deserved his reputation?
Wyss: Well, it's purely a pictures and captions book so there's no editorial attitude to speak of, but I think the pictures demonstrate, by virtue of how
much time and money the owners spent on their cars that they love their
cars, regardless of the quixotic personality of the late Alejandro De Tomaso.
Dave Adler: This is a good question. I meet a lot of enthusiasts that are new to the hobby. Very few of them have even basic knowledge of Alejandro
DeTomaso and most of those that do, could care less about him. I have to be
honest, Mr. DeTomaso was not exactly a beloved, charismatic figure. Further, the racing heritage of the marque is barely recorded. The Formula 1 effort
ended in the loss of P. Courage, the pilot in a violent fire. The Pantera was plagued with engine failure at LeMans. DeTomaso was a mere shadow of the man and the myth, Caroll Shelby. However, Shelby never sold 9,000 Cobras or
Mustangs, while DeTomaso sold that many Panteras.
Linda Adler: We didn't portray DeTomaso in the book. I have met Alejandro DeTomaso several times. I appreciated his cars more than his reputation. The
rumors that circulated about the founder would make a great Hollywood movie!
Q. Do you think there is a renaissance of interest in the DeTomaso marque and if so, why?
Wyss: I think there is, partly through the efforts of clubs like the Pantera Internaitional, Pantera Owner's Club of America and the clubs in Europe.
They have fine websites,their own magazines, and gradually they have built a cadre of staunch fans. More recently there's been books like Philippe
Olyzyk's on the race cars so suddenly Ford fans are becoming aware that just like the Cobra, there were factory competition cars. Also the Pantera in
the U.S. mostly falls into the pre-catalytic converter pre-smog test
requirement time era so owners can tweak their cars to their heart's content
and make them real monsters and still register them which you can't do with 1974 and later cars. And there's a lot more hop-up parts for them now than there ever were in the early '70s when they first were on the market as new
enthusiasts seeking an exotic muscle car have few choices other than a The main interest I have detected is based on value. For the dollar, no other muscle car or collector car offers the performance, beauty
or future appreciation potential. These cars still cost what a well equipped Toyota might run. Caught in the draft of the price escalation of Shelbys, Pantera. For $40,000.00 you can have a great Pantera or two DeLoreans or
Bricklins. What would you rather have?
Linda Adler: The internet has really helped put the marque on the map. There are chat rooms, blogs, data bases full of DeTomaso information. The vendors
have also done their part by supplying affordable and plentiful parts for the cars.
Q. Do you think it will hurt the marque's collectibility now that the factory is closed and shuttered?
Wyss: Not at all, I can only cite Bugatti which was closed for decades and yet it was desirable enough a name that VW bought it and created the
manficant Veyron. So I think the clubs will carry the flag until another automaker buys DeTomaso's name and then we will have new cars to celebrate.
from various suppliers and re-bagged with DeTomaso logos to appear to be a Most owners avoid factory parts due to their high cost and lower quality when compared to modern parts. You can run factory brake pads for
several hundred dollars or purchase state of the art Kevlar ones for half
the price. The factory has basically been closed for several years now. Some people think they are buying factory parts that are in reality, out-sourced factory item. Most Pantera owners that I know are mindful of this and avoid
Linda Adler: I think there will be some detriment with the factory being closed despite what Dave says. People new to the hobby have taken comfort in the past when advised that the factory was still open and making cars and
parts since 1971. I am afraid people may avoid the marque if they think that
the parts are made out of unobtanium.
Q. Have you had personal experience with DeTomaso cars?
Wyss: I have driven several models. I like the Mangusta best for looks but it is a dangerous car to drive in terms of occupant safety--your head is only
about 3" from the windscreen. The Pantera is a fun car to romp around in, it doesn't take an expert to drive it, it is not unpredictable in handling like a Turbo 930 Porsche. I would like to have a Group 4 style version but know
with those wide tires it would be a real chore to steer.
Dave Adler: I have owned a number of Panteras and other DeTomaso cars and race cars. I am restoring the only DeTomaso Group C Pantera ever built. I
can't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't discovered the marque. Almost every friend I have, I met through the clubs or at DeTomaso related
activities. The owners are the nicest and most knowledgeable group of
enthusiasts you could ever meet.
Linda Adler: I enjoy racing our Group 5 Pantera the most. I have raced it in various vintage races and club track events. My most memorable experience
was driving our car at the Palm Springs Grand Prix several years back and beating quite a few cars in the process.
Q. To what do you ascribe the continuing interest in DeTomaso cars now that the factory has gone out of business?
Wyss: At around $25,000 for a standard street model with no upgrades it remains one of thehighest performing cars you can get at the price. And it
doesn't take a great deal of upgrades to have it going 175 mph or 75% of the speed of a Ford GT which costs $160,000. So you get a lot of "bang for the
buck." Also I think the existance of several clubs gives potential customers
courage to buy one because they know there is advice available on maintenance, tuning and parts. I feel sorry for those owners of cars like
Intermeccanica because they are out there on a limb with no comparably sized organizations backing up the car owners.
Dave Adler: High production numbers and affordability work to the benefit of the collector. With the support of the vendors, such as PI Motorsports,
Inc., there is an ample and reasonably priced source of parts. The clubs and
events also play their part and finally, good books like our new title help spread the gospel.
Linda Adler: I think the great owners we have are paramount. They take their cars to shows, events and races. I personally admire owners that have the
patience to spend the time to explain the cars to interested people and to
take them for rides. Once you drive or ride in a Pantera, you will never forget the experience. The mid-engine V8 slamming into your back on full
throttle is still a real rush.
Q.What do the Panteras still need in order to be recognized?
Wyss: The Pantera always reminds me of that slogan of comedian Rodney
Dangerfield, to whit "I can't get no respect." Here in the U.S., at many
car events the owners of Ferraris and other purebreds look down on it and have done so for decades.There's only been one Pantera accepted at Pebble
Beach in something like 50 years. I hate to be so dollars-and-cents about
it but what the marque needs is the sale of a couple of significant cars at auctions like the Barrett-Jackson for the same sort of amounts that
competition Cobras get. I don't know if that will ever happen but I still can see a $300,000 Pantera GT/4 sale coming within three years because
competition Cobras with racing pedigees are up to one million each.
The factory made sixteen Comp Panteras and then built many for private
customers. Also recently the factory museum sold all their cars so soon we
will see one-off DeTomaso prototypes showing up at vintage racing, those
fancy tours and even on the auction block.I think the 70P prototype designed
by Pete Brock is already making the rounds of the auction circuits.
Dave Adler: I argue that the cars need to be taken to every show or display where they are accepted. There is nothing worse than a Pantera dropping into
obscurity by owners being too timid to take the cars out of their garages. I believe that some of the people involved with the creation of the Pantera
need to come out of the closet and talk the talk like Tom Tjaarda does.
Dallara is one example of a respected person that has little to say about the Pantera even though he created the marvelous suspension.
Linda Adler: We recently had our Mangusta appear in the Quentin Tarantino movie, "Kill Bill 2". I would like to see Panteras in more movies and on
Q. Where can we get the book?
Wyss: It is distributed through Iconografix and is available through all the normal car book sources.
Q. Why did you decide to do this book?
Wyss: I have done several picture books for Iconografix and they are looking for niches to enter that the big player in the game, Motorbooks, has overlooked. They realized that there were no DeTomaso picture books so they
decided to do a picture book on that car. And David and Linda Adler has just
sold the Pantera International Club so had time to look back on the many
trips they have taken to foreign countries to document DeTomaso cars and
Dave Adler: I have worked well with Wallace over the past 15 years and I was eager to collaborate again on this project. We accomplished what we started
out to do.
Linda Adler: Doing this book was a logical extension of what I have been doing for the past 15 years as a Director of Pantera International. We have
published 2,000 pages on the DeTomaso marque. I favor the concept of a photo archive and would like to do more of them in the future.