D - Member Profiles

This page is devoted exclusively for our Members to tell their story to the world about the love affair (or not) with their DeTomaso.

If you would like to have your story, and that of your DeTomaso, profiled on our web site please click here, then simply fill out our Profile Application and send it, along with some great photos of you and your car, to our Membership Coordinator.

Me and My Pantera by Dennis Valdez

Well, it’s been a year now that Liz and I have had our Pantera and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how we got here. As a young boy growing up in Wyoming, I somehow developed a fascination with cars and racing even though no one else in my family or close relatives were particularly interested. In the late 60’s and 70’s in Cheyenne, the vehicular landscape was mainly family cars and pickup trucks (mostly with gun racks). A few muscle cars were around but an Exotic was like a unicorn.

I loved to draw cars as a kid, usually in the Ed Roth - Rat Fink style and was pretty good at it. One day I came upon an ad in a match book cover that said something to the effect “Draw this car, send it to us with a dollar and have a chance to win a scholarship to art school!” The car was a DeTomaso Pantera! The coolest looking car I had ever seen! I spent about a week carefully drawing my best rendition. I sent it off with my dollar and….I’m still waiting for my scholarship! My first driving lesson ever was in my sister’s green Mercury Capri. Prophetic if I’m writing an article about my Pantera, but otherwise a rather trivial memory.

After graduating from college and marrying my college sweetheart, we moved to California. Besides the beautiful weather, a significant part of the decision to move was cooler cars and a chance to go racing at Laguna Seca. I enrolled in the Jim Russel School, did a few races and had a great time but discovered very quickly I was not the next Ayrton Senna… Well, the following years were full of career building, family raising, weekend soccer and swim meets and not much time for car centered stuff.

In the fall of 2012, while visiting family in San Diego, we went to a car show with the kids. At the show was a beautiful green Pantera! I spent a long time ogling the car and Liz snapped a picture of me standing next to it. I didn’t know it at the time, but the car belongs to past POCA president John and Kathy Buckman. This stirred up my interest again and I began talking about, and searching the internet for all things Pantera. I also started thinking about how I could make room for, and fund, a collector car in my future. I think Liz suspected I had contracted the “sickness” but wasn’t sure yet!

I commenced to sign up to the PI Forum and started following the discussion boards etc. I then saw an episode of Jay Leno’s garage where he featured his newly acquired Pantera and had Mike Drew as an expert guest. I decided to follow Jay’s advice, joined POCA, and started following the e-mail strings and getting newsletters etc. I was at work one afternoon and received a call from the then PCNC membership coordinator, Greg Taylor to welcome me! I have been a member of the BMW club and had never received a call from anyone. I decided these Pantera folks must be pretty special!

A friend and I went to the 2014 Concorso Italiano and spent most of our time in the Pantera area talking to the owners and having a great time. I had a conversation with Randy Welch there and got a good education about owning a Pantera and what to look for, and look out for, when checking out a car. On our way home, my friend Bill said “Hmm, I think you’re getting serious about getting a Pantera aren’t you”.

Liz and I attended our first PCNC meeting and nervously took our spot at the table nearest the door. The tight group quickly took notice of the newbies in the room and commenced to welcome us. I hadn’t been sitting for more than 5 minutes, when I mentioned to Garth Rodericks (whom I had just met) that I had never sat in, or ridden in a Pantera. Garth immediately stood up and said “let’s go!” I left Liz to order me some food and went outside to Garth’s “Banzai Runner” Pantera. He took me on quick trip around a few blocks and firmly set the hook! I had to find a way to get us a Pantera.

The following month’s included several calls, e-mails and inquiries, on cars that either weren’t what I thought or weren’t really for sale. I was also unsure of what I wanted between bone stock or nicely modified. I saw a car in a dealer ad in southern California and decided to take a look when I went down for some other business. Liz texted me asking what I thought and I texted back “Pristine!” The car was a bit more than I had in my virtual “piggy bank” so I went about my business. I looked at a few more cars even travelling cross country at one time but got cold feet for one reason or another. I kept thinking about the really nice one I saw in southern California and decided to do a little more research. I eventually found that the previous owner was pretty active on the PI Forum and I started reading many of his old posts from his ownership beginning in 2005. I could tell he was a very good custodian of the car and decided to try and go for it. I traded a few calls and e-mails with the dealer and eventually agreed to buy it.

#7260 is a beautiful yellow 74 L with 24k miles. The paint is all original with a few, barely noticeable nicks that are nicely touched up. The previous owner had acquired the car from a well-known southern California dealer, Mike Mayberry, in 2005 with barely 13,500 miles. I communicated with Mike via e-mail and asked if he remembered my car. Mike has sold many Panteras over the years and told me he had acquired the car from a collector in San Diego before selling it to the previous owner. Mike remembered the car as a very nice original car.

The previous owner had a lot of work done at Wilkinson Pantera’s including replacing the radiator with a Fluidyne aluminum unit along with all the cooling system hoses. I’m not sure if there was anything wrong with the original radiator, but I have it tucked away for safe keeping. The original Motorcraft carburetor was removed, re-built and stored in favor of an Edelbrock 650cfm model. The half shafts were changed to Spicer units and the steering rack was re-built.

The complete tool kit, spare tire, owner’s manual and a box full of receipts, old Profiles magazines, and Pantera paraphernalia came with the car as well. In looking through the old Profiles I saw where the car had won the “Stanley Cooper” award for original cars at the 2007 and 2008 POCA fun rallies.

Given it’s condition, we haven’t had much to do on the car the last year except change out all of the fluids and re-charge the A/C with R-12. The signal light switch was not working properly, so I took the switch out and sent it off to Bill Taylor (SOBill) for a re-work, and it works great now. I detected a fuel smell in my garage the first few weeks it was in there and although I looked, could not find any signs of a leak. I had the entire length of fuel lines replaced from the tank to the carb including the filter and a NOS carbon canister, and the gas smell went away.

As you all know, the most fun about owning one of these cars is the sharing. We have really had a great time showing it to friends and family, many of whom had never heard of, or seen a Pantera. We have attended many of the local car events and had our first “road trip” with the car to the 2015 Ironstone Winery Concours d’Elegance in Murphys, CA last fall. We left San Jose on Friday evening and drove with Garth and Leslie Rodericks, and Brent and Bev Stewart to Murphys . Driving at night in a Pantera on an empty two lane highway is a great experience! We had such a great time making new friends and chatting with everyone that weekend!

Meeting the people in the Pantera community has been particularly rewarding. It has never ceased to amaze me the depth of knowledge people have about these cars, and cars in general. I’ve been very lucky to find a great car, and most of all a great community to go with it! Liz and I look forward to many more miles and smiles in our Pantara and with our new friends!