Destroyed De Tomaso Dilemma

Posted May 06, 2019

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay

The ad says “for complete restoration or parts car,” but lets be honest, this car won’t be restored, not in the foreseeable future anyways. With damage this extensive, this 1972 De Tomaso Pantera hardly has any usable parts left to donate. The extent of its destruction will have most enthusiasts blurting out words like junk, or scrap, at the sight of a wasted exotic, but when you get down to it, this Pantera has value, and determining what its future should be is actually a difficult question to answer.

This Pantera was just six years old when it was involved in a serious, likely fatal, accident in 1978. By the shape of the wreckage, it seems safe to assume that speed was a factor, as every side of the car is crushed in some unfathomable fashion. The car would not even be recognizable as a Pantera from most angles, if not for its distinctive magnesium wheels.

After the fateful wreck, the Pantera likely bounced around a few salvage yards, as it requires the right set of circumstances and the right dismantler to find its final purpose. And that yard is PorFor Auto Dismantlers in this case, short for Porsche Foreign Auto, as the company has an extensive array of exotics for sale, many of them Porsches.

As it sits on the pallet at the salvage yard, I think we’ll all agree that this De Tomaso is not destined for restoration. The Pantera is a desirable and valuable exotic, but driving examples can be had for less than $70,000. In addition, there’s nothing left here to restore. No body, no chassis, and very few (if any) mechanical parts in salvageable condition. Forget about the wheels, as these magnesium Campagnolos can crack from your average pothole and curb mishaps, and are prone to corroding away in open air. At the most, you’re talking some bits and pieces that are usable, maybe some transaxle parts (as the bulk of the case has been destroyed in the wreck), and possibly the engine. That being said, the engine has been sitting in the open for four decades, meaning its probably locked up tighter than (name a noun). If you need a period-correct block badly, this engine may work with some extensive machine work though.

With all this in mind, you might be surprised to see the $16,000 price tag on the ad, rather than “free if you haul it away.” And that leads us into the nitty gritty legal stuff, and a few moral dilemmas. The Pantera is worth very little in its physical form, but the car still carries a clean 1972 title. And in our world of red tape and BS, a title can be worth its weight in gold.

We normally shy away from the idea of applying a title and VIN from one vehicle to another vehicle, as it’s not only unethical, but also highly illegal. We took our stance on that in this article regarding a wrecked ’69 Shelby GT350, stating that this car should be restored, rather than having its identity stripped and repurposed.

But this Pantera is much worse off than the Mustang was, and is honestly not restorable in its current state. Sure, a team of talented craftsmen could recreate the car piece by piece with a colossal investment of time and money, but then wouldn’t you have a whole new car anyways? And while its legal and more ethical than using this title on a different Pantera, the prospect of rebuilding this car from scratch is not practical at this time.

So what should become of this desolate De Tomaso? In a perfect world, someone would recreate the car from scratch, honoring the original car and the people affected by this accident. But in the real world, this car will likely give up a few parts and its legal identity to save another Pantera, a practice we cannot condone on paper, but why not get another car back on the road if there’s truly no legal funny business.

Or of course, you could let this car languish under your lean-to for a few decades (as long as you’re okay with ghosts of days past lurking your property). By then, we’ll be able to simply 3D print new parts to fix this old exotic, or a brand new one all together. Yeah right…

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De Tomaso Wrecks