The De Tomaso Pantera is an Italian-American supercar produced from 1971 until the early '90s. The important thing to know is the Pantera is an Italian body and chassis with an American Ford V-8 stuffed in the back with a manual transmission at your fingertips. Being produced more than 20 years, the Pantera naturally found its way into motorsports, participating in multiple touring car race classes, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Pantera you see before you embodies that race car heritage with a unique style of its own.
Kenny Neirinck of KEAN Suspensions purchased this '73 Pantera two years ago, and it's been quite the world traveler. Panteras were assembled in Modena, Italy. However, Kenny picked up the mid-engine marvel while visiting Los Angeles. He then had it imported to his home in Belgium, where the car still resides. Kenny reveals, "It took a long time to get here, so I had lots of time to think about what to do with it."
With this build, looks are everything. Kenny started with the body, which is nothing short of aggressive. First, he decided to ditch the OEM yellow color in favor of a deep and elegant Rosso Corsa red borrowed from the Ferrari color pallet. Then, he sourced a set of Group 4 widebody fenders and added a matching livery he idolized from a '74 race car. Custom carbon-fiber bumpers and Lexan windows are the icing on the cake.
A KEAN Suspensions build wouldn't be a KEAN Suspensions build without the perfect stance. Kenny developed a custom air setup for the supercar, which was no small feat and required the air tanks to be integrated into the one-off rollcage due to the lack of interior space.
Next came squeezing in those massive 17x11 front and 18x15.5 rear Sk l wheels under the fenders. Yes, 15.5 inches! The sheer amount of contact patch out back is impressive with 335-series Toyo R888s.
Beyond its wild styling and fitment, this Pantera has the performance to back it up. All Panteras come with a 5.8L Ford V-8 good for 330 hp, which isn't huge power for today's standards, so Kenny and his team swapped it for a custom Ford 427 crate engine. With some tender loving care in the form of aluminum heads and forged pistons as well as a beautifully crafted straight-pipe exhaust system, this eight-cylinder puts out close to 600 hp and more than 500 lb-ft of torque. The original five-speed transmission remains but had its internal bits renewed and strengthened to handle the huge bump in power.
Kenny concludes, "There's no ABS, traction control, or fuel injection. It's just like it was in those days, and it gives you that old-school race feel." ...Except for the fact that this Pantera has almost double the horsepower it did when it first came out, plus a remarkable stance and style that's unlike any Pantera project car in the world.