Our own DeTomaso Pantera is...
Our own DeTomaso Pantera is a near stone stock and unrestored '71 with about 26k on the odo. Don't look for any stories on it in PHR though; it's a fun car to drive, but not to work on or find parts for.
A little while back we blogged about the resurrection of the DeTomaso name and the facelift of the original logo. Given the previous marriage of the Italian designed Ghia bodies and Ford powerplants, we pondered what that might mean for the next iteration of hallowed models such as the Pantera and Mangusta. Surely such a small manufacturer will be using drivelines sourced elsewhere, could there possibly be a return to American V8 powered exotics? Could the Pantera or Mangusta successor house a new 5.0 Ford? We sure like to think about the possibilities.
While most gearheads may be vaguely familiar with the Pantera, the whole two-seat, mid-engine concept just seems too foreign to be truly called a muscle car. Other than a random sampling of concept vehicles, the whole idea just never took off in the states. In Europe, that combination can be found in dozens of platforms, but over here the Pantera (which was available at Lincoln-Mercury dealerships) stood alone as the mid-engine muscle sports car. However, that almost wasn't the case. American Motors Co, the guys that had the distinction of delivering most awkward cars in the past 50 years almost had an even swoopier muscle bound sports car of their own.
This is the AMX/3, and we...
This is the AMX/3, and we hate to say it, but the styling is more refined than Pantera. These things would be big collector items had they been produced, and the dream car on the wall of every AMC addict. We snapped this shot when it was on loan to the Petersen Museum.
It was known as the AMX/3 and it was designed solely as a competitor to the Pantera and as AMC's entry into what they thought might be an emerging market for American exotics. Created by famed designed Richard Teague, the AMX/3 was actually crafted by Italian builder Bizzarini, but like the Pantera when the hatch was lifted it was all big Detroit V8. A 340hp AMC 390 was the powerhouse and thanks to lightweight construction and decent aero properties the top speed was 160mph. That's not just 'on paper;' they actually built six (or perhaps seven, depending on your source) AMX/3 cars, and at least three were fully functioning cars. The red one seen here is owned by Jeff Teagure, Richard's son, and regularly pops up at important shows and events around Southern Cali. Currently it's housed in the San Diego Automotive Museum.
Why did it never come to fruition? Simple economics; the AMX/3 was slated to cost around $12,000, which was far more than even the pricey Pantera. The bean counters just couldn't see any possibility of it being anything more than a high profile money burning machine for the already faltering AMC, so the whole $2,000,000 program was scrapped.
Ah, what could have been... Maybe with some real competition between them the Pantera and AMX/3 would have stayed on the market, evolved and birthed a whole new segment of American exotics. Talk about your perfect Pro-Touring candidates. Too bad, but then again we can say from personal experience that even the relatively cheap Pantera is hard to work on in almost every way and chock full of pricey proprietary parts.
But, all is not totally lost if you're in love with that rakish AMC. Believe it or not there is a company working to bring kits based on a real AMX/3 to market. It's true, check 'em out here; www.amx390.com. If you happened to get your hands on one and plan to build it, let us know.
If you'd like to see the most...
If you'd like to see the most known AMX/3 in person, it's currently housed in the San Diego Automotive Museum, which is worth a stop anyways thanks to an always revolving eclectic collection.