De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute: Reader Resto

By: Laslo Antal, Photography by: Laslo Antal

Presented by

Laslo Pantera Laslo Pantera
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute main De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute main
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig1 De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig1
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig2 De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig2
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig rear De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig rear
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig rear2 De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig rear2
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig 5 De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig 5
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig 7 De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig 7
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig 8 De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute orig 8
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute right front resto De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute right front resto
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute rear resto De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute rear resto
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute right rear resto De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute right rear resto
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute side resto De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute side resto
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute wheel resto De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute wheel resto
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute engine bay shell De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute engine bay shell
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute engine installation De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute engine installation
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute engine 2 De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute engine 2
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute interior De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute interior
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute interior drivers De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute interior drivers
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute front left De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute front left
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute front right De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute front right
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute rear 2 De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute rear 2
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute left rear quarter De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute left rear quarter
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute side De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute side
De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute side left De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute side left

Laslo Antal built the wildest, hardest-looking De Tomaso Pantera on the planet. The results speak for themselves

 

De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute

I’ve owned this Pantera for about twelve years and bought it off a friend of mine. He actually owned it for 26 years. He lives in Tamborine near the Gold Coast and he imported it back when it was near new. It probably had one or two previous owners back in the States but it was one or two years old when he imported it into Australia and converted it to right-hand drive. It was originally a yellow narrow body Pantera L without the flares or the super-wide wheels. In other words it looked almost identical to the car Elvis shot. And yes, it’s been checked it for bullet holes!

It was a stock standard-looking car when it arrived from the US. My friend did a lot of work to it over the years. He gave it a colour change to black, put some flares on it, some wide Simmons wheels and he had a Ford SVO motorsport block motor in it. He certainly built a tough motor for it. His wife drove it a lot over the course of the 26 years and they really enjoyed the car. He only sold it because he started work on another car: a Ford GT 40 that he’s had custom-made from scratch. It’s a wide-bodied GT 40 and so far it’s cost him upwards of 300 grand. Probably more by now.

Laslo -Pantera 02-658

When I got it, the Pantera had a small black deck lid spoiler as you can see in the photos. I did a lot of work on it as soon as I got hold of the keys. I basically fixed everything mechanical on it because it was an old car and things deteriorate over time. I went over the whole car and I refreshed the suspension with new bushes and ball joints. It got new wheel bearings and had a new engine built for it.

I fixed the whole cooling system, starting with a new larger aluminium radiator built and all new water pipes because the water pipes go from the front of the car to the back, running right down the middle so I had larger diameter stainless steel water pipes made for it. Gary Sturdy looked after most of the mechanical issues, while Gary Whittaker took care of the engine upgrades. I had a whole new air conditioning system put in it, had the car repainted, bought different flares for it and put those on. I even had a one-off set of custom wheels made for it. It was a major overhaul.

De -Tomaso -Pantera -GT4-Tribute -8-658

The most difficult thing was probably getting the flares. I ordered them from Hall Pantera in America and they didn’t fit properly. I’d spent all this money on them and then had to get them cut up and reshaped! When I had the wheels custom made I basically messed up the offset a little bit and the wheels stuck out too far so I had to get the flares widened an extra inch to cover the wheels. The GT4 Pantera that it’s based on is the widest Pantera made so mine ended up actually being a bit wider than the GT4 so I ended up with the widest Pantera in the world!

I had a vision in my head for the way the car needed to look. I have certain tastes for how I like things done. I’m also good at art, photography and Photoshop, so I usually mock up some photos of what I’m aiming for. Because of the width it ended up looking even better than I predicted.

Wildpantera -front -side -sell -658Laslo's computer-generated vision - he hit the bullseye with the actual build

I had the wheels built up by Dragway. They’ve got a shop in Brisbane but their factory is in Melbourne. I designed them; they’re based on the original wheels but with a bigger diameter and a bit wider. The rears are 18 inches by 14 inches wide and I did a 3D computer model for them. Dragway created a CNC map of it and cut them out of a big hunk of aluminium. I’ve gone through a few different sets of tyres on the car.

I’ve had Michelin 345s and BF Goodrich drag radials. When I bought it, the car was fitted with the Pirelli P7s that also came on the Lamborghini Countach but they were for 15-inch diameter wheels and I went up to 18-inch diameter and you couldn’t get them in that size. The fronts are 16 inches by 9.5 inches. The smaller fronts give it a really aggressive stance. The front looks little and low and the back looks big, fat and wide.

De -Tomaso -Pantera -GT4-Tribute -side -resto -2-658

The engine was dynoed at 400 horsepower at the rear wheels. Because the car isn’t very heavy, it went like a bat out of hell. That thing was so awesome and fun to drive, it’s like driving an outrageous go-kart. It hugs the road and it just hammers. The noise is unreal. It’s got a Cleveland 351 in it and it had a lumpy cam and it sounds amazing. The Pantera has a really short exhaust because the engine’s mid-mounted and so when you couple that with some free-flowing mufflers, the car sounds like an animal. The neighbours always heard me coming from a couple of blocks away.

De -Tomaso -Pantera -GT4-Tribute -engine -658

It eventually went to Japan, which was a bit of a sad thing because I didn’t want it to leave the country. As soon as I sold it, Rusty French rang me and said that I’d promised him the car if I was going to sell it. I’d completely forgotten about that and he was trying to see if there was a way to break out of the deal, but it was really too late and I felt duty bound to honour the agreement.

I drove this car all the time. I want my cars to be seen and I like taking people for rides in them. I used to take the Pantera down to the Gold Coast or on the winding roads around Mount Glorious. I’m still busy though. I’m now working on a 900 horsepower big-block Ford XA coupe and it’s going to be even more radical than the Pantera.

Can’t wait.

Pantera -UC-658

IMPROVING THE PANTERA

The 1989 Pantera SI/90 was more than just an aesthetic refresh. The monocoque chassis was replaced by a largely tubular structure, curing the Pantera’s Achilles heel: chassis rigidity. When restoring a classic Pantera, welding in additional underbody square tubing is a favourite mod, especially around the rear frame. It also helps cure the car’s rust issues.

SPECIFICATIONS

De Tomaso Pantera GT4 Tribute

Engine 351ci Cleveland V8, Holley 780 carb
Max Power 400 rwhp
Transmission ZF 5-speed manual transaxle
Suspension Adjustable Koni shocks and springs
Brakes JFZ kit for 15" wheel
Body Steel panels, fibreglass guards, carbon fibre rear wing, full chrome-moly roll cage and engine bracing
Wheels Dragway aluminium custom 16"x 9.5" fronts, 18"x14" rears
Tyres BF Goodrich 245/45/16 front, 345/3-/18 rear

 

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition