Unknown factory racing car from De Tomaso

Karl-Heinz Augustin
De Tomaso Pantera Group 4
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As always, Marcel Schaub tried to use the D e Tomaso Pantera GT5 was interested in getting the most important information over the phone. By now he knew that the red coupe was equipped with a seven-liter V8 from Chevrolet instead of the smaller original Ford engine.

Stiffeners Holes provide initial clues

When the dealer also mentioned on the phone that the car had “such strange holes in the door sills”, this should have been another reason for Schaub to think of this De Tomaso Pantera . But the Swiss automotive expert and owner of an independent workshop for exclusive classic sports cars was delighted with the news.

He visited De Tomaso Pantera, found even more holes and bought it off the site. Of course, it was not a matter of rust, but of regular reinforcement holes, as they have long been common in racing. Because their edges are flared inwards, you not only save weight, but also stiffen the appropriately prepared body parts.

Further indications such as the tank filler neck shifted from left to right, front and rear hoods made of aluminum and the improvised chassis number led to the clear finding: This De Tomaso Pantera from 1980 with later planted Chevy engine is one of 14 built in the factory Group 4 racing car with the original chassis number 2263, which at some point was converted to 8263 and reattached.

Guest appearance in sport auto

Now this strange Chevy Pantera, which was actually a racing car, is parked in front of its proud new owner's garage. Schaub shows us the telltale holes and the gigantic Chevy V8, for which the engine mounts were moved to the rear. “They should actually know the car,” its owner amazes us during the tour. “It was in 1986 on eight pages sport auto , where it attracted a lot of attention with its 500 hp and the huge rear wing. “However, Schaub immediately unscrewed the and a smaller roof spoiler on his De Tomaso Pantera.

Open On a table in the bright winter garden there are already the most important documents and documents that the De Tomaso expert would like to use to inform us about the origin of his find. And it will be a really almost unbelievable story that begins with 'that the well-known Swiss racing driver Herbert Müller ordered one of the new Group 4 Pantera from De Tomaso'.

Müller wanted to compete against Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche in the GT class in the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hours. The group 4 racing classification enabled far-reaching changes compared to the production model, such as wider wheels and wheel arches, chassis modifications, reinforced brakes and transmissions, as well as classic engine tuning without charging. Power of this De Tomaso Pantera: around 350 hp.

302 km /h on the Hunaudières!

Racing driver Müller, Schaub reports, did not receive the De Tomaso Pantera intended for him due to lack of time Coupé, but the already completed press presentation car with chassis number 2263. With it, the experienced sports car driver achieved truly fabulous times during the Le Mans pre-qualification in March 1972. Müller's Pantera was faster than the entire GT competition and ran an unbelievable 302 km /h on the legendary Hunaudières straight - without the front and rear spoilers that were not yet approved by the regulations.

In Modena they were enthusiastic , says Schaub and shows us a De Tomaso ad that advertised the new Group 4 Pantera with Müller's lap record in Le Mans. But it is not used in the 24-hour race.

Accident and fate as part donor

Before that, the 1,000 kilometers from Monza took place, the Müller with his 2263 -Pantera denied. In the rain race, the De Tomaso Pantera led the GT class, but retired after an accident with sheet metal damage and a defective front right wheel suspension.

We read a photocopy of a letter in which the racing driver described the course of the accident portrays; a certain Leandro Terra had steered his Ferrari Dino 206 S 'suddenly to the left for no reason, me just brusquely in front of the Pantera'. This ended the short racing career of 2263. “The De Tomaso Pantera was brought back to the factory, but not repaired, but used as a spare parts store,” reports its current owner. Photos from 1979 show the poorly covered body without wheels. It clearly shows: the start number 41, which Müller rode in Monza seven years earlier.

Risen from ruins

At the end of 1979, De Tomaso decided toto build a street car from the former Group 4 racer. The work was carried out by the bodywork company Europa in Modena, which still exists today. Schaub shows us a bill sent to De Tomaso on May 8, 1980 for a 'Vettura Pantera 8263 Gr4 rossa'. It is the ex-Müller car whose first digit of the chassis number has been changed to an eight. As further evidence, Schaub shows us the work folder for the reconstruction of his De Tomaso Pantera, which bears the handwritten note 'ex Müller' on the outside.

The former racing car finally came with new technology, a new interior, air conditioning and a few body touches to Stuttgart, where it was delivered on October 8, 1980 as the De Tomaso Pantera GT4 to the then importer Armin Fischer in Plieninger Strasse. Not as a new car, but as a demonstration vehicle, for which De Tomaso charged a relatively modest 35,500 marks. The sales price should have been about twice as high.

There are only 14 Group 4 Pantera

The De Tomaso Pantera had several owners in Germany. One of them had the Chevy V8 installed at Supervettes in Neu-Isenburg. In addition, the coupé was adapted with an all-round spoiler to match the thundered-up Pantera GT5 look in which Schaub finally bought the car.

Of course, the current owner will wear his De Tomaso Pantera in the slim, red and black one Put back the original condition from 1972 with a matching Ford V8. A Matching Numbers Car is likely to be difficult, but the joy is still great: “There are only 14 Group 4 Pantera in total that are very popular with collectors - and one of them is mine.”

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