Friday, January 14, 2011


1971 DeTomaso Pantera

This was one of my favorite cars of all time.  This was my Freshman year in college.  This was back in the day when they still had Auto Shops on college campuses.  So, I was actually getting college credit for using the shop to build my '69 Grand Prix SJ.  Also, one of my favorites.  If you will allow me to digress (sorry Nancene...I know technical details aren't interesting) but the Grand Prix had a 428 that put out 390 bhp from the factory.  When I got done with it, I put it on a dynomometer.  I milked 690 horses out of that thing.  Anyway, whilst I was doing this I was driving this 1971 Pantera.  My dad bought it for himself, but my mother wouldn't ride in it.  If you've ever been in one, its a bit like a luge inside a jet engine.  So, I managed to weasel it away.  Afterall, a young scholar does need transportation and my main ride was indisposed.  My dad was an interesting guy.  He wouldn't just buy me a nice car, but if I were willing to build it, well...that was educational and nothing was more important than being educated.  To dad, education covered a very broad spectrum.  He had a reputation at the hospital because he was the only doctor who knew all the maintenance guys by name.  He loved building.  Thus, when I needed and Edelbrock high rise intake manifold and twin Holley problem.  Back to the Pantera.  I was driving one morning, April 15, 1974, 5:36AM, (some things just stick in one's head) on campus.  It was still dark and there was this weird intersection that was kind of blind and definitely uncontrolled.  Like me, a guy who was late for work, driving a 69 Camaro, made the acceptable assumption that at that time of day there was no real reason to slow at that intersection because who the hell else would be up there at that time of the morning.  I never even saw him.  It was kind of an uphill sweeping curve that was fun to take fast.  And, as I mentioned, the other gentleman was late for work and guessed that he was going about 60 mph.  There was just this blinding flash.  I awakened in the passenger seat at some point.  Later, one of the cops actually said I was really lucky that I wasn't wearing a seat belt (pre-law days) because the way the Camaro center punched the driver's door, I probably would have been killed.  How's that for weird irony?  The other guy had a broken femur and was stuck in the Camaro.  So, I climbed out and surprisingly, I seemed totally fine.  I waited around for the other guy to be taken to the hospital and the cars to be towed.  One of the officers asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital.  I said, "No, thanks, I don't have a scratch on me, weird, huh?"  So, satisfied that I appeared lucid, suddenly I found myself alone in this intersection, contemplating what to do.  I started to walk to my grandparents house which was about a half mile away and it occurred to me that the shock was wearing off.  I think I started mumbling "Owww, no, really Owww....OMG!!!! totally Owww"  Somehow I made it to my grandparents house and called my parents.  They immediately left work and came out to get me.  A few hours later I was looking at an x-ray of my chest.  Every rib on my left side was broken at the spine and pulled out of the sternum.  By now, every time I breathed it felt like a dozen swords were being run through my chest.  Morphine and I became really close friends.  Fortunately my dad was a big believer in opiates and he had no problem just giving me a giant bottle of it.  I don't think I could have functioned otherwise.  Not to be a wuss...but my cousin Cindy had to come over and help me out of bed.  I've never experienced pain like that again.  Well, maybe when my dad removed my big toenail without anesthesia because it was ingrown...but that was short term.  Anyway, I healed...the Pantera was fixed. But...that was sort of its demise.  When my dad insured it, the agent didn't know what it was.  In describing it, since it's a Ghia body with a mid-engine 351 Ford Cleveland, the guy insured it as a Ford two door coupe.  Repairing it cost in excess of $10k...which was a lot in 1974.  So, they cancelled the policy.  I never really understood why, but my dad just stored it in our back garage.  I got it running and drove it for a couple months in 1984.  But when the voltage regulator blew,,,I know, it makes no sense whatsoever, but it just sat.  I still have it actually  Every once in a while I think I'm going to restore it.  Its actually a fairly rare car.  1971 was the first year they imported them and only 1000 came over.  I've only seen one other.  I think I haven't restored it because Gail's first car was a 1967 Triumph TR4A and in the early 90s I did a frame up complete restoration on it.  I converted all the Lucas crap to real electronics and those SUs were replaced with Webers.  I was really quite proud of it.  Gail said, "Thank you, I appreciate the thought, but that car was fun when I was a teenager.  I don't really want to be stranded on my way to work."  Its been in storage ever since.  I apologize for the length of this post, but...trauma....what can I say?

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