Fulfilling a Pantera promise to dad after nearly 40 years

Fulfilling a Pantera promise to dad after nearly 40 years

My journey to owning a Pantera stretched almost four decades

When I was 10 years old, my father was the manufacturing engineer at Chrysler and his company lease car was getting repaired at the Carlini Brothers body shop. At the time, Hank Carlini, the director of the Ford Pantera project, had his personal Pantera hidden in that same shop.

While at the garage, my dad asked if I wanted to see a cool car and lifted the cover off a bright yellow Pantera. I thought it was the most beautiful thing ever and said, “One day, I will own one, Dad.”

Fast forward 38 years: I found one in a barn in upper New York. It was not for sale but the owner and I — after five hours of dialogue — bonded through experience and career paths. I was told that, if I promised to be a caretaker and never sell her, I could buy her for a reasonable price.

I drove home, picked up a flatbed and F-150 from work and my now 83-year-old father. We drove the nine hours to pick her up and I reminded my dad of what I told him when I was a boy and first laid eyes on a Pantera.

The Pantera was in good shape, but we stripped her down, primed and repainted the body; new carpet, seat cover and insulation installed. The powerful 351 Cleveland was torn down to the block and rebuilt. It purrs.

Now, I have my Sunday car that goes to various events and shows. I usually take dad as well so he can tell the story.

— David Cantagallo

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