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In the late 60s, after the very successful Total Performance Campaign and with Ford fresh from humiliating Ferrari in LeMans, Lee Iacocca, the big man at Ford though it was time for Ford to increase its presence in the high performance exotic market, at the time here was a very short run of street legal Ford GT40s for Europe (a few came to America, most famously Edsel Ford's personal car) and the Shelby Mustangs were growing big and heavy. Alejandro de Tomaso, an Argentinean-Italian race car driver and entrepreneur (Sort of an Italian Carroll Shelby), was at the time building with moderate success the DeTomaso Mangusta and was looking for a follow up vehicle. Iacocca and DeTomaso thought theirs was a match made in heaven.


Iacocca though that a mid-engine two seater that DeTomaso was planing would be the ideal addition to Ford line up. Ghia studios which also were under DeTomaso control, was to take care of the design and it was none other than Tom Tjaarda, the designer who end up taking charge of designing the new car (look for a Tom Tjaarda entry in the Designer series in the near future). The chasis would have a full monocoque layout and was designed around around Ford’s then-new and now legendary 5.7 liter (351 cu. in.) "Cleveland" V-8.


The Pantera as it was named featured fully independent suspension with upper and lower A-Arms, coil-over shock absorbers, front and rear sway bars, 4-wheel power disc brakes, cast magnesium wheels by Campagnolo and rack-and-pinion steering. The front compartment houses the brake booster, master cylinder, battery and tool kit; the rear trunk unit, easily removable for engine access, holds a considerable amount of luggage. The interior features an aggressive cockpit design, full instrumentation, factory air conditioning and power windows.


The Panteras were imported by Ford to be distributed by the Lincoln-Mercury network of dealers between 1971 and 1974. After 1974 DeTomaso ended his business relationship with Ford and went solo keeping the Pantera in production for the next 22 years. The end f their relationship marked also the beginning of Ford Total control over Ghia.


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