- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2001

In the early 1970s many Lincoln-Mercury franchise dealers were selling a De Tomaso/Ghia-designed Pantera that looked like it could break the sound barrier.
When teen-ager Stephen Cohen's car dealer father brought a bright yellow Pantera home, young Mr. Cohen took advantage of the opportunity. "It was my high school car," he explains. He drove the sleek car to Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring every chance he got, keeping the needle on the 8,000 rpm tachometer below the 6,000 red line.
Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of high school came and went, but Mr. Cohen never forgot that dynamite Pantera, which his father eventually repossessed.
In January 2000 Mr. Cohen, now vice president and general manager of Jerry's automotive group, was attending the famous Barrett-Jackson antique automobile auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. There on Jan. 23 he came, he saw and he bought a knock-your-socks-off yellow 1973 Pantera that crossed the auction block. When new, the car carried an $11,004 base price.
"I got my high school car," Mr. Cohen exulted. The sleek Pantera, 14 feet, 7 inches bumper-to-bumper stands a mere 3-feet, 8-inches high and is a hair narrower than 6 feet wide.
The 3,170-pound car was trucked from Arizona to Virginia. Upon arrival Mr. Cohen's first drive refreshed his memory of how nimble the 98.4-inch wheelbase makes the car. It can be turned in 47 feet.
This unusually pristine Pantera has only recorded 6,740 miles on the odometer. Mr. Cohen says that virtually everything on the car is original, even the Goodyear white letter Arriva tires.
The two-passenger car transfers the 330-horsepower output from the midengine 351-cubic-inch Cleveland Ford V-8 through the five-speed synchromesh transmission to a limited-slip differential. "These things were usually user-friendly, just loud and noisy," Mr. Cohen explains.
The cozy cockpit is air conditioned and the windows are electrically powered.
Mounted vertically on the center console are four gauges all canted toward the driver:
Ampere meter.
Fuel gauge.
Water temperature.
Oil pressure.
"If you drive it at a normal speed it's a pretty civilized car," Mr. Cohen said. When the engine starts turning at the higher revolutions, Mr. Cohen concedes the two outside mirrors and the interior one as well are vibrating to the point their utility is lost.
A cautionary note in the original owner's manual states:
"To prevent premature clutch wear it is imperative to avoid quick starts involving clutch slip."
Oh sure, like the authors of that bit of advice expect any Pantera owner to heed their words.
For a high-performance car in 1973 the Pantera is fairly well-equipped. The headrests are adjustable via a knob on the back of the seat. A silver-dollar-size plug by each door handle hides access to a socket into which a crank can be inserted to manually roll down the windows if the power should fail. You don't get that kind of service option in new cars.
Pantera designers still had not figured out that God intended horn buttons to be in the center of the steering wheel. The horn is activated by pressing the end of the turn-signal stalk. The windshield wipers are two-speed electrics. As sharply raked as the windshield is, raindrop accumulation at speed is probably a moot point.
The original took kit, which has yet to be used, includes:
Lug wrench and jack handle.
Window regulator handle.
Four open-end wrenches.
Jack-handle extension.
Phillips screwdriver.
Combination pliers.
Spark plug wrench.
Blade screwdriver.
Speed jack handle.
Scissor jack.
Ghia emblems on the front fenders, De Tomaso insignias on the wheel hubs and the name spelled out on the differential housing lend an exotic air to this exotic car.
Circulating though the cooling passages are 6 3/8-gallons of coolant, while only five quarts of oil keep the engine well-lubricated. Mr. Cohen has no record of how long the 21-gallon capacity of gasoline lasts.
A lot of how mileage is arrived at is determined by the size of the tires on any given vehicle. The Pantera offers a challenge in that the front tires are Goodyear Arriva C60V15 while the bigger rear tires are Goodyear Arrive H60V15. The space-saver spare tire is a B.F. Goodrich tubeless F78x14. The spare tire and the inflator canister are both original to the car.
With the rear hatch open, the car can be refueled from the left side with some difficulty. With the Fiberglas luggage tray removed to provide access to the midengine, the V-8 is seen from the rear with the transmission trailing toward the rear. At the far aft of the car a fan is mounted to push cooling air through the radiator, which is mounted immediately behind the grille below the rear bumper.
Whenever Mr. Cohen slides into his outrageously shaped monocoque sheet-steel coupe body he says, "I'm 17 again."


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