When we speak of Italian made, high performance exotic cars, brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Pagani are the first to mind but these companies aren’t the only Italian based automotive manufacturers to have produced high end, exotic cars over the years. In fact, there was a large number of Italian based auto manufacturers that specialized in the production of high performance exotic cars, companies like Cizeta Automobili, Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. and Bizzarrini S.p.A. just to mention a few. Unfortunately for the automotive world, the above mentioned auto manufacturers, and a lot more like them are no longer with us and the gorgeous vehicles they once produced have since been relegated to the history books.
Another forgotten Italian based exotic car manufacturer of yesteryear was De Tomaso Modena S.p.A. De Tomaso Modena S.p.A. was founded in 1959 by Argentine born Alejandro De Tomaso and although De Tomaso Modena S.p.A. originally produced numerous prototypes and racing cars, including a Formula One racer for Frank Williams’ team in 1970, De Tomaso Modena S.p.A did eventually explore the route of producing high end, exotic performance cars and they were pretty good at it too. The first vehicle to sport the De Tomaso logo was known as the Vallelunga and it was unveiled in 1963, the Ford Cortina powered Vallelunga was then replaced in 1966 by the V8 powered De Tomaso Mangusta which was the first De Tomaso model to be produced in significant numbers.
However, it was the successor to the De Tomaso Mangusta that secured De Tomaso’s place in the automotive history books, does anyone remember the De Tomaso Pantera? The De Tomaso Pantera was unveiled in 1971 and it featured a low, sleek, wedge design which was penned by Ghia’s Tom Tjaarda and was similar to that of the Lamborghini Countach. The De Tomaso Pantera was powered by a massive Ford sourced 5.8 litre, naturally aspirated V8 engine which delivered 350 hp (261 kW) and 415 Nm of torque. These performance figures were similar to those of the Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati models of the era and because of this, the De Tomaso Pantera became an extremely popular alternative to the Lamborghini, Ferrari and Maserati models of the period.
The De Tomaso Pantera stayed in production for 20 long years (1971 – 1991), receiving a few updates throughout it’s lifetime. However, the De Tomaso Pantera went on to become the brands most popular and best selling vehicle, with over 7,000 Pantera’s built and sold before production ended in 1991. Today, the De Tomaso Pantera is the best recognized De Tomaso model and they are also quite a rare sight, therefore finding a good example Pantera is no easy task and they aren’t cheap either. However, if you have always dreamed of owning a De Tomaso Pantera not all hope is lost, because now there is a new version and it will leave you speechless.
This is it, what you are looking at ladies and gentlemen is the modern day iteration of the De Tomaso Pantera and it is the work of Italian based coachbuilders and design studio Ares Design. Now Ares Design are well known throughout the automotive universe for creating modern day versions of iconic automobiles of yesteryear, like the Ferrari 400i for example and their work is on a whole different level. Dubbed the Ares Panther (or Project 1 according to the Ares Design website), this modern day take on the De Tomaso Pantera is the first vehicle in the Ares Design “Legends Reborn” series which will focus on resurrecting iconic supercars of yesteryear. The Ares Panther/Project 1 was originally announced mid-last year and within a few short months, Ares Design has already built a prototype model and began testing.
As one would expect the Ares Panther/Project 1 features an all new exterior design which incorporates styling elements from the original De Tomaso Pantera including the classic wedge design, and the end result is just staggering. According to Ares Design the body of the Panther/Project 1 is manufactured from carbon fiber, which means it is lightweight and the Panther/Project 1 also features pop-up headlights which is one of my favourite features. However, Ares Design has not built the Panther/Project 1 from the ground up, instead it is based on a modern day Italian supercar, the Lamborghini Huracan. As a result, the Ares Panther/Project 1 will use the Huracan’s platform and transmission and although the Ares Panther/Project 1 features a newly designed interior, Ares Design have re-used various interior bits from the Lamborghini Huracan, including the center console, switchgear and digital instruments.
As the Ares Panther/Project 1 is based on the Lamborghini Huracan, it will be powered by an upgraded version of the Huracan’s V10 engine. As a result, under the hood you will find a 5.6 litre, naturally aspirated V10 engine which has been tuned to deliver between 640 hp – 660 hp and 560 Nm of torque. Ares Design have paired the Panther/Project 1’s engine to the Huracan’s 7-speed dual clutch transmission, and according to Ares Design “throttle response has been improved and the 7-speed dual clutch transmission will deliver improved and sharper gearshifts. Unfortunately Ares Design has not released any 0-100 km/h sprint times or top speed figures yet, but I am sure they will be similar or maybe even a little better than those of the Lamborghini Huracan.
If you want to get your hands on one of these superb machines you are out of luck, because Ares Design will only be building 21 examples and they have all been spoken for. According to Ares Design, each of the 21 examples will take a minimum of 24 weeks to build, however it may take longer depending on the level of personalization required. As expected the Ares Panther/Project 1 is not at all cheap, in fact prices for the Panther/Project 1 start at an eye watering €515,000 ($598,000) and as far as we are aware, this price includes the Lamborghini Huracan donor car too. I know $598,000 is alot of money but the Ares Panther/Project 1 is not just some rip-off produced on the cheap, instead it is the spiritual successor to the original De Tomaso Pantera and because it is based on a Lamborghini Huracan, you know it will be fantastic in every way.