1972 De Tomaso Pantera Pilots: J-M. Jacquemin, Y.Deprez Team: Claude Dubois Race: 16th GC (GT 5.0+ class) at Le Mans in 1972 Spark (pw) - ? (diecast)
Argentinian Alejandro De Tomaso moved to Modena, Italy, and in 1959 founded De Tomaso Modena SpA. In the beginning De Tomaso produced a few prototypes and racing cars. They even created a Formula One for Frank Williams’ team in 1970. Always using motors from Ford, their first road-going model was the Vallelunga, of 1963. The Vallelunga had an aluminum backbone chassis, which became a trait for all the De Tomaso cars. Subsequently, in 1966 came the Mangusta, the first of their cars produced in significant numbers. With bodywork designed by Ghia, it had a big 4.7 liters V8 for an engine. In 1971, Ford acquired 84% of the company, and changed the name to De Tomaso Automobili. At the same time, De Tomaso was working on the substitute for the Mangusta, the Pantera. Penned by Ghia’s Tom Tjaarda, it was a mid-engined coupe that debuted in 1971.
As expected, the new car used Ford’s “Cleveland V8”, but in contrast to the Mangusta, it had a monocoque steel chassis. The Cleveland was a huge V8 with 5766 cm³, 16 valves and SOHV. Producing 330 hp, it was enough to take the Pantera’s 1382 kg from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.8 seconds. However, right after the production started, De Tomaso offered a competition version of the Pantera. Initially, in 1971 you could buy a Group 3 spec car, that was lighter and tuned for racing. Afterward, for 1972 De Tomaso also offered a Group 4 Spec Pantera. Suspension and brakes were completely new, and the car lost a LOT of weight. The engine was the same Cleveland V8, but with new carburetors, aluminum heads and forged pistons. Consequently, the engine was then capable of 500 hp – or about 440 hp for race day.
These Group 4 cars debuted at the 24 Heures du Mans of 1972. All in all there were four Pantera in the race, and Claude Dubois’ #32 was one of them. Yet, despite a four car fleet, only Dubois’ #32 finished (in 16th). The other three all had engine issues and DNF. Interestingly, in 1975 Dubuois was back at La Sarthe with the same car (chassis #2886) and again finished in 16th! Unfortunately, that was the last year that a Pantera raced at La Sarthe.
In scale, the car looks at least okay. It’s a diecast model by Spark, from the Hachette pw series. Though Spark did issue a resin #32 in the past, that one is really rare to find. I think the older resin version might be better, since some of Spark’s older stuff is a bit lacking. If that may be so or not, here you have to content yourself with painted door handles. But being from Spark, tobacco decals come separately. And those gave me some headache, because I couldn’t find pics of the real car from all angles. I think I got them right, but the one on the license plate I placed there more as a guess. Nevertheless, adding everything up (pretty cheap + at least half decent + available) I’m quite happy with the model.