Less well-remembered than the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati is that other Italian supercar marque, De Tomaso. The company has produced only a handful of high-performance road-going models since its formation in 1959, most notable of which was the De Tomaso Pantera – a Ford-powered mid-engine sportscar with a steel monocoque design and some serious performance pedigree.
In the latest edition of Motorweek‘s Retro Review, we take a look back at the final iteration of the mid-engine Italian exotic: the 1987 De Tomaso Pantera GT5-S.
“Car lovers have always had their differences, and few of these groups are further apart than those who love Italian exotics and the fans of the Ford Mustang,” Motorweek host John H. Davis begins his review. “But what many people don’t know is that there is an Italian exotic with a heart that comes from Dearborn. It’s the De Tomaso Pantera GT5-S – a hot-blooded Italian that any Mustang fan could love.”
That line is a reference to the Pantera GT5-S’s Cleveland 351 V8 engine – a powerplant that gave the De Tomaso an important bit of common ground with America’s favorite pony car. De Tomaso had used Ford powerplants in each of its prior two models, as well: the Vallelunga, and the Mangusta. In the Pantera (and earlier Mangusta), the Ford small-block V8 was paired with a ZF transaxle driving the rear wheels.
That powertrain combo lent the 1987 De Tomaso Pantera GT5-S some impressive performance for the time, with 60 mph coming up in just 5.5 seconds at full chat. The supercar delivered intimidating handling to match, with Davis remarking: “Let’s just say that the Pantera feels like a racecar. It’s big, powerful, and requires all the driver’s attention all the time.”
The price for this impressive bit of aggressively styled performance? The 1987 De Tomaso Pantera GT5-S cost a not-unreasonable $71,950 in its day – “a bargain by supercar standards,” says Davis. That’s nearly $163,000 in today’s money. Oof.
After some years of dormancy, De Tomaso is back, showing off its gorgeous new P72 supercar at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed this past summer. Mum’s the word on what powers the new exotic, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a 5.0L Coyote under the bodywork.