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Gr 5 Panteras, 1976 - 1981

While the deTomaso factory initially built (14) lightweight Group 4 and GT4 cars in 1971-72, very few "Group 5" or IMSA GTX Panteras were ever built and campaigned. And even then, most of those cars were converted from Gr4 or Gr3 Panteras with wider body panels but without the major redesign and chassis modifications on the level of those undertaken by the competition e.g. Porsche 935, Zackspeed Capri, BMW M1, etc.

Two Gr5 Panteras do, however, stand out as "pushing the envelope" and underwent significant modifications and development programs to be competitive in this top tier GT class.

The first was built in Italy by Sala and Marverti constructed from a new chassis designated #001.

The second was chassis #1603 built and first raced as a Gr4 car in the USA by Hugh Kleinpeter and then converted into a full Gr 5 car racing first in 1976.

Both 001 and 1603 were private efforts and both cars continued to be developed over time through the end of the Group 5 and IMSA GTX eras. After which both cars evolved and raced as Group C and GTP cars respectively. 

Race Pantera chassis numbers are documented here: 

Excerpt below from this website shows two GR5 cars:

Additional details and history of these two cars on the tabs above, or links below:

Sala Group 5 Pantera
Vic Manuelli IMSA Pantera

Pantera Racing, Post Gr 5


Neither chassis 001 nor 1603 were competitive against the new breed of prototypes that came after 1981. This is not surprising since the GTP era was ushered in largely in response to the total domination of the Porsche 935 - which by 1981 bore little resemblance to any 911 production car (see Note 1 below).  


And while the final evolutions of the 935 did, at least early on in the transition to GTP, remain competitive against the new Lola T-600 and other GTP cars to follow, the writing was on the wall for the Group 5 Pantera. If it was to remain competitive in professional racing it would certainly not be in the prototype class!

So as both the FIA and IMSA made a major shift in GT racing with the introduction of Group C and GTP prototpyes, 1603 moved (back) to the IMSA GTO category to continue racing through 1984. Afterwards there was one final introduction of a Pantera into IMSA racing in the 1980s. That came from John Storey who built a well developed POCA club racer followed by a full ground-up build for professional racing, eventually entering IMSA GT Championship races in Riverside and Portland in 1986. 

001 was converted to a Group C car for the 1983 season, but still sharing much of the underlying Pantera chassis platform from its Gr 5 days. This car was restored in the USA, sold to a customer in Europe and is currently undergoing a transformation back to it's Gr 5 configuration.

In addition to the William Sala chassis 001 and Hugh Kleinpeter Gr5/GTX Panteras, there were a few other Panteras that were modified from either Group 3 or Group 4 to later compete in Group 5. More info here.

During, and after, the Gr 5 1976-1981 period there were also a few privately developed Pantera race cars built to run in SCCA, Pantera/Ferrari Club racing and other racing series. In some cases these ended up being similar to the FIA Gr 5 and IMSA GTX cars and developed well beyond the factory Gr 4 Pantera. These include the "Burgundy Express" from Hall Pantera, followed by the Bob Cleves racing Pantera, and others. This was well documented several years ago in an article by Matt Stone published in the POCA quarterly magazine. Some of these efforts will be added to the "Other Racing Panteras" page.



(Note 1) It's interesting to recognize the long and sometimes distinguished competition history of De Tomaso vs. Porsche. At Spa in 1972 (prior to Le Mans that same year) a Gr4 Pantera out qualified and won against all the 911s. Likewise at the Monza 1000km.

The Group 4 Pantera race efforts had an auspicious start! But some 10 years later, Porsche and their privateer team efforts that followed managed to move the "goal-posts" well beyond the capabilities and/or commitment of DeTomaso factory or privateer teams. In fairness, that was certainly not a unique situation. Porsche completely dominated GT racing by the start of the Group 5 period.

One of the most complete accounts of Pantera racing up through the 1980s can be found in Matt Stone's book "Illustrated Pantera Buyers Guide".

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