680HP 1974 Ford De Tomaso Pantera GTS – The Perfect Marriage of Old-World Style and New-World Brawn!

Our readers know well our style. We emphasize the importance of modified Mustangs, but also we must never forget the significance of other Fords. Fords are mainly seen as domestic cars, but there are many Ford cars that were sold in the USA and produced someplace else. The owner of this `74 beauty you see here is Floridian Joe Curley. Don`t let the smooth and seductive lines get you fooled. They may look a lot like they came from Europe but the very soul of this machine is a hard core Ford 351 Cleveland powerplant.

If you are still not convinced that this is a Ford have in mind the fact that the Pantera was made out of the collaboration between De Tomaso and his car company founded by Modena in the late sixties and Ford Motor Company. According to the agreement they had, Ford was in charge of the sake, service via its dealer network and promotion US Lincoln-Mercury while Alejandro was head of building process.

This was Ford`s big chance to manage a sports car, without having to pay for its development. The car is obviously Italian classic, having almost its body handbuilt and got the power of a killer machine, which means a neat 351 Cleveland engine and a 5-sped ZF transaxle.

Soon after its launch on the market, times got difficult immediately for the Pantera since it price was double the price of its only competitor-the Chevrolet Corvette. In 1974, the partnership sadly came to an end due to various problems. The grim quality monitoring, bad marketing, overpricing and finally the `73 oil crisis led to this misfortunate event.

Check out the photos bellow!


As Joe was growing up in the south side of Chicago, during the mid sixties, he wasn`t quite the type to be attracted by an exotic car like our Pantera. Nevertheless, as time flew by, Joe was becoming more and more interested in drag racing and along with his friend, Jim McCulloch, were deeply associated in the drag car racing scene. Joe likes to recall the old times when they were both mad car guys who used to help eachother in modifying their rides in order to get a faster start, good shifting and any other drag feature they could think of. Joe had the chance to be part of  the Rich Clement`s Speed Shop racing team, Chicago-based, as a crewmember.  This only added more fuel to the fire, and also allowed him to participate regulary on the drag racing weekends as the driver of their team was sponsoring the whole thing.

Back in `71 Joe went to a place where the sun never goes down – Florida. He remembers, “I have been racing for many years, but then it got to me that I needed a real job. After some time, when I created with my own agency of public relations and communications, the passion for automobiles that never fades away, came right back to me. I started showing classic muscle cars,  restoring and buying, all of which were of course Fords.” Since he never lost contact with his old buddy Jim, who was still living in Chicago , still messing around with mean cars . He had bought himself a real nice `74 GTS Pantera in 1980.

His target was to create a unique, twin-turbo monster that could also be part of a car show. The ambitious project commenced with dipping the body in acid, then a complete rotisserie restoration took place and finally the paint job. The Pantera was re-sprayed in Yellow hue. The chassis and the engine were also completely chromed, polished or repainted. Two turbos and enhanced cooling system were added and were very well adjusted to all the modifications done.

The project enthusiastic and aggressive at many aspects. The most intriguing fact was maybe  the built of setup of a twin-turbo in order to get forced induction on a home-base engine in the mid-80s. An AiResearch twin side-mounted turbos are placed on a hand-made custom manifold. This design enables the turbos to get additional air stream in the carburetor plates of throttle instead of blowing through the carb top under pressure. The intake system is feeded by a moded Holley 780, which has a vacuum secundaries in order to prevent Turbo lag and follow the Turbo curve boost. These turbos are equipped with Delta Turbonetics wastegates which can be adjusted by a driver`s shift mounted console. Jim continued to work on the project for several years ahead, since he was in no hurry.

What we ment when we mentioned the refresh was him taking out the 351 and doing a complete rebuild. It has been dragged 0.030 and TRW pistons brand new were fitted, together with a Competition Cams bumpstick, 10-quart chrome oil pan, Rhoads lifters and  Melling oil pump. But as you get rid of one problem, there comes another one to keep you busy. He had to take care of the turbos` cooling.

He was used to Chicago weather so Florida`s climate set up few challenges for him. This was addressed by installing an advance/retard MSD ignition system adjusted on the driver`s shift console; it makes it easier to Joe when changing driving conditions. The side quarter-windows were eliminated as well and custom vents one-off produced to further keep the heat under control and draw air in. An aluminum three-inch radiator with one push-fan and two electric pull-fans further cools up the engine compartment. Also stainless steel baffles were produced in order to prevent the carburetor to overheat from the turbo. The ZF 4.09:1 transaxle was internally safety wired and blueprinted, while the Centerforce device with a flywheel made out of aluminum was used for a hydraulic based clutch setup. On the rear Pirelli P-7 V-standard tires were installed heavyweight chrome-coated shafts and U-joints. Rims are two-piece modded units with custom produced knock-offs by Hall Pantera from Paramount, California.

The engine boosted an amazing amount of 680 horses, while working at 12-pounds of boost.

Having his drag racing experience, Joe was carefull and ran few drag runs when the vehicle was completely finished, which led to a 138 mph in 10.75 on street wheels average elapsed time. Joe had enough with car show, so he decided to give the Pantera a rest. He only takes it out to some regional and local events.  During the following years, Joe awarded himself with just few Ford babies. He bought a `64 Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt, a `73 Pantera, an `05 Ford GT, along with an `08 Cobra Jet Mustang and a `66 continuation AC Shelby Cobra. If you are wondering what happened to Jim, he now lives near to Joe and the old buddies regularly attend local car shows.

The interior of the car was equipped with custom Connolly leather seats, Lexan bubble cover engine, advance/retard control for ignition, original dash and console gauges, 3-inch dropped floorpans, dual turbo boost gauges, Halon fire extinguisher, console upholstery and matching door, special steering wheel GTS, adjustable turbo control boost and so on.

The exterior as you can see was repainted in Pantera Yellow shade. The whole body was acid-dipped and also rewelded and reinforced. Taillights and front parking lights, side air scoops custom-made which replaced side small-windows; rear and front spoilers, hand-fabricated fender flares which were put into the body as well as fiberglass front bumper molded in the  radio antenna were also added.

The tires tucked into the Hall Pantera two-piece wheels, size 15×8 at the front and 15×10 at the rear end, are Pirelli Cinturato0 P7, P255/55VR15.


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