Start Ya Bastard

De Tomaso Pantera.

I mentioned this wonderful aerosol before, genuinely called “Start ya bastard!” complete with Aussie epithets. It works too, as an added bonus. Writing about it reminded me of that wonderful skit by John Cleese as Basil Fawlty when his car wouldn’t start, “Come on! Come on! Start, you vicious bastard! Oh, my God! I’m warning you! If you don’t start, I’m going to beat you!” After the rant, Basil reappears with a tree branch and begins beating the bonnet.

What reminded me of Basil was Elvis Presley no less, who got out a gun and blasted his car because it wouldn’t start (I don’t know if that is covered by the Second Amendment). And what car was it? It was a De Tomaso Pantera.

Panteras were made from 1970 to 1991, and in the USA they were even sold through Ford of America’s Lincoln-Mercury network until 1975.

The Ford tie-up was the Ford V8 engine of 5.8 liters and up till 1974 De Tomaso had sold 6,000 Pants Tearers in the US, but the fuel crisis in the early 70’s and the poor build quality of the cars stopped further exports to the US.

The concept of the car was excellent. It had an all steel monocoque, the V8 Cleveland amidships, independent front and rear suspension and a five speed manual transmission.

The design was from the house of Ghia (using American Tom Tjaarda as the lead designer), the bodies built by Vignale in Turin and the cars assembled in the De Tomaso factory in Modena. It has been described as a triumph of style over substance.

However, the cramped cockpit, the heat inside the car and the fact that they would never pass the upcoming crash testing spelled the death knell for this interesting sports car. In 1970 it had a top speed of 250 km/h and a zero to 100 km/h of 5.7 seconds.