Imagine for a moment that the 2013 SEMA show was transformed into a high school cafeteria.
The Mustangs, Camaros, Chevelles and Novas would be the cool kids, flexing their muscles and throwing a football back and forth while the girls swooned over them. The Hyundai Genesis Coupes and the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZs would be the geeks, wiping off their glasses as they rewire their ECUs. The Jeeps and lifted/baja/prerunner trucks would be the band geeks, a tightly-knit group who knows that all they’ve got is each other.
Then you have the DeTomaso Pantera. While it came with a big V8 engine and was sold in Ford Dealerships, this car doesn’t fit in with the rest of the crowd. It is closer to an exotic car than a muscle car. Its mid-engine layout, low production numbers, and premium price tag place it in a different social class from the other cars. At a show like SEMA, the Pantera is something of a misfit.
When I was a kid, there was a show on TV called “Before They Were Stars.” The show looked at popular celebrities to see what they were like before they became famous. Some of them had humble careers working in menial jobs for low wages – and of course, they would always dig up an embarrassing high school yearbook photo.
In the same way, most car enthusiasts have heard of the DeTomaso Pantera, the Ford-powered, Italian-styled, mid-engine sports car from the 1970s. Before DeTomaso hit it big with the Pantera, they tested the waters with a car that is relatively unknown today: the Mangusta.
The Mangusta was the Pantera before it got its teeth fixed, its hair combed, and changed its name. Like an up-and-coming celebrity, the Mangusta was a little rough around the edges before it became a big shot.