There are only two cars I crave to have the keys to. One is a pre-Nissan Datsun 1976 280z. The other, is this beast, a Detomaso Pantera.
My Uncle Tom had a 71 Ford Mustang Mach1, which is the Detroit production flavor of the platform. A brutally heavy front-engine cannonball that was as maneuverable as a Saturn V rocket, because it felt like it had as much raw thrust off the line. It was gratuitous joy with its stock 351-C powerplant and factory tires, turning any redlight intersection into a flat track starting line. Stomping the gas pedal would bury my body into the driver’s seat, the same way it buried my eyes into the back of my skull. It was impossible to see anything for a few seconds once the Firestones finally caught traction. It never fishtailed on me. It just banged forward, in a way that I could only describe as being shot out of heavy-gauge artillery barrel. I considered it the world’s most awesome bad idea. Until Tom got hold of an abandoned 427-CJ barn find. It wasn’t just brutal. It was a vulgar display of Fuck You. For my friends who remember our joy rides in Tom’s fire-orange Camaro, the Mach1 made that feel like my 3-cyl Daihatsu Charade.
Years later, after boot camp, one of my Navy buddies turned out to be a rich kid, whose dad was (mildly put) a fellow performance enthusiast. After hearing about my wild tales of the Mach1, he threw me a set of keys and walked us over to the garage, and uncovered a familiar-yet-exotic looking torpedo. The only Lamborghini I ever heard of was the popular Countach, but this Lambo had the same Ford Cleveland found in my uncle’s Mustang. Rich dad introduced me to “how Italians do American muscle,” the Pantera. It was far more elegant on the eyes than the Ford, and while still a brute behind the wheel, it was far more refined in sound and feel. The Incredible Hulk , wrapped in a fine Italian-cut suit and shoes. I think I emptied the gas tank in just under 15 minutes.
This youtube video brought all that back. Like the Mach1, the Pantera was an experience that the numbers on paper can’t do any justice to. Being scared shitless was never so much fun.