Being a “one-owner” car holds special cachet in the used car market. Having that one owner be the late great Carroll Shelby as is the case of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Pantera turns that cachet into holy crap! Let’s see what being ‘Ol Shel’s car might just be worth.
This past weekend I watched the opening episode of the 41st season of the PBS series, This Old House. The episode introduced viewers to a ranch-style house in Westerly Mass that will gain a full story over the course of its remodel. Preparing for the upward mobility, series regulars, Tommy and Rich went down into the basement to look at the house’s existing structure and determine how much reinforcement would be needed to carry that second floor.
Tommy, the show’s lead carpenter, noted just how well built the house is at present, pointing to 12-inch centered floor joists and diagonally set tongue and groove sub-flooring as examples. This is a house that, as they say in the trade, has good bones.
Yesterday’s 1985 BMW 635CSi also has good bones. Much like the Westerly Ranch, it too needs some work, but the basis for that seems to be in fiddle fitness. That factor, along with the E24’s inherent beauty, swayed the majority for its $7,000 asking, resulting in it taking home a respectable 67 percent Nice Price win for its trouble.
Carroll Shelby and Alejandro De Tomaso are two names that have solidified their positions in the annals of automotive history. Interestingly, each’s best known achievement was with hybrid sports cars that mated European sensibilities with Ford V8 muscle. Those of course were, respectively, the Shelby Cobra and De Tomaso Pantera.
Those cars each existed in their own eras, the Pantera even being considered by some Ford fans to be the spiritual successor to Shelby’s AC-based sports car. However, while the two men shared a remarkably similar path in life—former racing driver turned specialty auto maker—they never really joined forces for world domination. We can certainly dream, however.
That imagined league of awesomeness almost happened back in the early 1980s. Shelby had followed his BFF, Lee Iacocca from Ford over to Chrysler where he was monkeying with that marque’s new L and K-car platforms and pumping up their little four-pot engines to performance levels unheard of at the time.
Alejandro De Tomaso was, during this era involved in a number of Italian brands, having purchased Maserati, and Innocenti while at the same time continuing his namesake brand along with its Ford engines. De Tomaso was nothing if not a multitasker though, and so he too reached out to Iacocca and Chrysler for special edition matchups. This resulted in the De Tomaso Omni and a bit later, the Chrysler/Maserati TC.
The relationship with Chrysler and by extension with Shelby also played into De Tomaso’s plans to re-introduce the Pantera into the U.S. market. The Tom Tjaarda-designed sports car had been officially offered in the U.S. from 1970 through ’74, but had been pulled by importer Ford due to the mid-‘70s gas crisis. The rest of the world was much luckier, and the Pantera continued in very limited production until 1992.
Duly impressed with Shelby’s ability to improve performance while still meeting emissions standards with his GLH and Shelby specials, De Tomaso gifted the Stetson-wearing Texan a Pantera in 1983 as enticement to assist him in making the car, or some derivative of it, salable in the States once again.
Sadly that never happened, but Shelby kept the car—this 1983 De Tomaso Pantera GTS—in his collection until his death in 2012. The collection sold off the car in 2018 at Bonhams, and it’s offered today with all its fancy certificates of authenticity and a mere 4,571 miles on the clock.
Most of you are aware of the Pantera’s history, but suffice to say you’d want one just for the driving experience alone. I had a ’74 L in the family and enjoyed the hell out of that car. Sure these are quirky and certain elements like the HVAC is under-developed, but that big burly 351C right over your shoulder makes wonderful noises and does a lot with its just under 300 ponies. Okay, enough of my waxing nostalgic, let’s look at this car.
It presents in red over black with a sumptuous beige leather interior. These later cars had vastly upgraded insides, with gathered leather similar to that in De Tomaso’s Masterati Biturbo. In comparison, our ‘74 had vinyl seats and an injection-molded plastic dash.
The paint is claimed to be “mostly” all original and the whole enchilada rides on gorgeous factory Campagnolo wheels, the rears wearing steamroller-sized tires. Both ends are capped with the energy absorbing bumpers appended to the car’s final U.S. model year and which add over a foot to its overall length. I guess that’s better than a notched nose from a parking lot pole.
The interior looks to be in excellent shape, with no major issues evident to either leather or wood. The boot also seems to be in as-new kit. That, by the way is a big fiberglass tub covered internally in carpet and masking the ZX five-speed transaxle and rear of the Ford 351 Cleveland V8 below. A lot of people run their Panteras with the tray out because it enhances cooling and just looks so dang cool back there.
Speaking of back there, the ad notes no issues with the big V8 nor the gearbox. In fact, the car over all is described as being “the best example in existence.”
Hyperbole that may be, but this Pantera inarguably has a lot going for it. First off, it is seemingly a fine example of the marque and boy are these cars you want to own and cherish. Second, it’s got a singular history that no other Pantera can match. This car was owned by Carrol Shelby! Of course, if you’re not interested in that kind of history, here’s another Pantera you might like.
Here’s the catch with this one: while most Panteras in excellent original shape will command something around $100K, this one, owing to its provenance, asks $249,900. Holy, shite that’s a lot of cabbage! Ah, but then this seemingly is a lot of car and car history. How would you like to sit where Shelby likely sat and soak in the remnants of his greatness? Could that opportunity rally be worth $249,900?
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