Modena-based company Ares Design does a bunch of interesting work, "re-imagining" classic cars by keeping their iconic looks and updating them to enjoy this century's reliability, performance and driver aids. As a company whose main business is essentially hotting up supercars and designing body kits for them, it's been an enormous success.
More recently, Ares has been playing with the idea of "Legends Reborn" – taking high-end donor supercars, gutting them, redesigning them as homages to great cars of the past and selling them in limited runs. Meet the first: the Panther ProgettoUno.
The De Tomaso Pantera is an interesting choice for an iconic car to start this kind of project out on. Based around a Ford 351 V8 in the back, it was somewhat of a budget supercar when it launched in the 1970s. Ford would sell you one through its Lincoln and Mercury dealers in the US for half the price of a Ferrari at around 10 grand. Its flying wedge shape and pop-up headlights were early examples of design trends that would follow through and become shorthand for the 1980s, but Panteras were renowned for never working very well off the showroom floor – to the point where most modern collectors prefer to go after examples that have been modified and "sorted" rather than originals.
Instead of starting with an American motor and finishing it with an Italian name, Ares is sticking an English name on what starts out as an Italian car. The Lamborghini Huracan donates its V10 engine, AWD drivetrain and chassis, being a decent match for the Pantera's original dimensions, and Ares takes it from there, lightly warming the 5.2-liter V10 to make 650 horsepower and 600 Nm (443 lb ft) of torque.
The body is all carbon, a 70s bonanza that looks the part of the early Panteras before they acquired the rude wings and skirts they began to sprout after 1980. And yes, the pop-up headlights are back, although this time in LED format. While pop-ups might have a kind of tacky ring to them these days, they were the sort of thing you'd only find on special cars in the 70s.
The ProgettoUno gets forged 20-inch front wheels and 21s on the back, barely obscuring giant six-piston Brembo brakes on carbon/ceramic discs. Ares says it's put plenty of time into aerodynamics modeling, and is confident the new Panther will go faster than 325 km/h (202 mph) if pushed.
The interior is a mix of carbon fiber, Alcantara and Nappa leather, and will be fully tailored to each customer's specifications. Hoping to wrap your hand around one of those classic slotted gearshifters? Bad luck, you're stuck with paddles and just two pedals. It won't be as much fun, but you'll go plenty faster than the original ever could.
Ares reckons it can turn one around for you inside 12 weeks, from a starting price of €615,000, or a hair under US$700,000. It's a fair old hike from the Pantera's origins as an affordable supercar, but then, it looks cooler than sideburns and a set of flares, and with only 70 or so planned for production over the next five years, owners will be part of a very small club.
Source: Ares Design
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