AUGUST 29, 2013 (SEPT 2013): ELVIS & TIM HORTON BOTH OWNED THEM BUT THIS ’74 DE TOMASO PANTERA WAS A KID’S DREAM

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One of the hottest looking cars from the Me Decade (also known as the 1970s) was the De Tomaso Pantera.

 

These exotic-looking sports cars had Italian good looks and an American engine mounted halfway down the car behind the driver.

 

Famous people like Elvis Presley and Tim Horton owned Panteras.

 

The 351 Ford small block Cleveland gave the car plenty of get-up-and-go, although rumors persist that Elvis shot his Pantera when it failed to get up and go one day. Many people have no idea Tim Horton was a very good hockey player long before he became as famous for coffee and doughnuts in Canada as the Colonel was for fried chicken in the entire world.

 

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The Pantera angle on the Tim Horton story was his untimely death in one after a hockey game in Toronto. Horton was a hockey legend for the Maple Leafs who was traded to Buffalo. In 1974, he had played his old team in Toronto and was named a star in the game before he drove back to Buffalo in his Pantera.

 

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Horton had a high speed accident in the car and died in the crash. Many Canadians learned about the Pantera because of the Horton crash and the fact the car was capable of very high speeds well beyond the safe highway limits of winter driving when Horton was killed in February 1974.

 

Rob Oliphant was a young kid in the 70s and he was familiar with both Tim Horton as a hockey player and the Pantera as a super car at the time. Rob was 14 when a neighbor named George bought a 1974 Pantera and lit a giant fire in Rob’s car guy soul.

 

George the neighbor rarely drove the car and never offered to take a young Rob for a spin in the Pantera; in fact Rob never even heard it run until he bought it. But George did make Rob want to own the car at some future point in his life. The first owner call the car his “Flat Ford”, presumably because the car was built sleek and low to the ground.

 

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George also refused to even consider selling the car to Rob when he asked him about the car and was able to buy it. George’s vow to “never sell the car” was one he took to his last days and the opportunity to buy the car was presented to Rob by George’s daughter after his death.

 

Rob paid a fair price for the car and finally got an opportunity to own the car of his dreams as a young guy. The Pantera was a low mileage (13,000 miles) survivor car with a pampered life and few real road stories before Rob got it, but that has changed over the past 6 years.

 

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It now has over 30,000 miles on it because Rob and his wife choose to drive this beauty from their western Canadian home to car shows in places like Reno (twice) and Phoenix. Rob says the Pantera loves to“hover around 100 mph” when he feels the need for speed.

 

A five-speed tranny hooked up to a lively trans-axle is a good combination for the torque from the mid-ship Cleveland heart and the perfect balance of the engine position makes the Pantera a great handling car.

 

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Rob loves another feature of his Pantera;”you can have an Italian sports car without a 1000 dollar tune-up” because of the Ford engine in his words. The throaty exhaust system will also set off car alarms if he wants to pump up the volume a little through his gas pedal.

 

We love a story like this one where boy meets car, boy falls in love with car, boy gets car and lives happily ever after.

 

Jim Sutherland

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