Monday, May 19, 2014

De Tomaso Pantera: Wedges and (Nearly) Flat Panels

The 1970s were a decade where taut, simple shapes were popular styling elements.  (Yes, there were cars that were rounded and fussy, but those tended to be the exception.)  And when it came to exotic sports cars, engineers and stylists were testing the limits of low overall height.  Not surprisingly, a combination of the two fashions could be found on a single sports car.

One such was the De Tomaso Pantera (Wikipedia entry here) that was sold in the U.S.A by the Ford Motor Company.  It wasn't the lowest of the low, but its design by Tom Tjaarda incorporated many of the styling and engineering elements fashionable at the time for cars of that class.  For instance, the engine was placed behind the passenger compartment, but ahead of the rear axle line.  The front of the car  tapered (in profile) essentially to a point.  Most body surfaces were nearly-flat facets, the overall design being an assemblage of these.

The Pantera's styling therefore can be characterized as simple, with form being the dominant visual element.  There was virtually no ornamentation.


As seen from near-normal viewing angle.  The dark, triangular shape behind the side windows is an air intake.

Profile.  Although the design is comprised of a number of simple near-planes, Tjaarda introduced conter-elements in the form of lips surrounding the wheel openings.  Up front, these plus the large opening and the low hood create a pinched effect that was hard to avoid.  In contrast, the rear seems too heavy.

Low-angle front three-quarter view.  I find the vent-quarter-window ensemble behind the roll-down side window rather awkward.  But given the door shape, little else could have been done.  Nowadays, the chrome trim would be eliminated and black moldings used: that would integrate better with the intake.

Rear three-quarter perspective.  The heaviness of the rear in the profile view was unnecessary, as this image suggests.  Tjaarda might have chosen not to use sail panels, but I suppose he included them as part of the wedge-and-planes styling theme.

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