My Car Quest

September 26, 2023

The Last Tjaarda Pantera

by Wallace Wyss –

Can a car designer go back in time and correct the things he didn’t like on the car he designed that was put into production. According to the author of Tjaarda, a new biography, he can. Tom Tjaarda, some 35 years after he owned a Pantera, the car he
designed for Ghia, bought another one and began correcting what he thought should have been done originally.

Tjaarda Pantera

Tjaarda told the book author that Ford was El Cheapo on the materials in the original ’71-74 models, and Tjaarda working with David Hopps Turin Int. had it reupholstered, with contrasting orange stiching, and better dash materials used. He also designed new front and rear bumpers, had them made of carbon fiber, and painted them an
interesting gray satin against the original Grabber orange paint.

The car also has chrome wheels now. It came up for auction at Barrett Jackson in 2007 but few who saw it there were aware that this car was designed by Tom Tjaarda twice–once originally while he was at Ghia (when owned by DeTomaso) and a second time 35 years later.

I commend the present owner, a Texan, who brought it to the 2021 Concorso Italiano where I saw it in person next to his modern Ford GT (the current one). You could see the Pantera was still holding its own against a totally modern car but couldn’t quite match the aerodynamics.

The title (The Last Tjaarda Pantera) is referring to the last one Tjaarda designed. De Tomaso brought in a famous Lamborghini designer, Marcello Gandini, to do the last models.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is a historian whose books go back to the ’70s with his best seller Shelby’s Wildlife. Today he is involved in several ventures including selling thoroughbred horses.




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The Last Tjaarda Pantera
Article Name
The Last Tjaarda Pantera
Tom Tjaarda, 35 years after he owned a De Tomaso Pantera, the car he designed for Ghia, bought another one and began correcting what he thought should have been done originally.


  1. The car was at the local show Exotics@RTC last weekend. The first time I saw this car was in 2009 in another show in Seattle area, but till now I didn’t know it’s been in his possession. The owner has wide range of subjects in his collection, his famous Mulholland Speedster, this Pantera, Ghia 450SS, etc. He often lets people to sit in his car for photo. Very nice person.

  2. wallace wyss says

    I thought he was from Texas, but what impressed me was he talked Concorso into letting him display a new Ford GT–a special model with carbon fiber–at an Italian car show so he could show the Pantera wasn’t that far off the same goal as the designer of the 200 mph Ford. And he met with Tjaarda personally. I think that’s a great pleasure to meet with the guy who designed your car. That’s rare at a car show- to have a spokesman for the car steeped in history and tech details.

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