By Michael Kitchens
Name: Ed Kemper
Occupation: Attorney at law; host of Island Driver TV aired on OC-16; and automobile writer for HILuxury Magazine
Hobbies: Running, racing
Year/Make/Model: 1972 De Tomaso Pantera
Engines: 351ci Ford Cleveland, Crane Cam, Double Pumper Holly 750cfm carburetor, High Performance headers.
Transmission: ZF 5-speed rebuilt transmission
Suspension: ￼32mm solid rear sway bar, custom rear triangular stress bar, BSI adjustable front sway bar, reinforced front control arms, poly and spherical bushings throughout the car
Exterior: GT5 Wing
Interior: Momo Trek Red 350mm leather steering wheel, Momo gearshift Knob, custom leather seats
Wheels and Tires: SSR Formula Mesh 15×8 front, 15×10 rear with Toyo Proxes at 205/50R15s front and 295/50R15s rear
The De Tomaso Pantera is what dreams are made of — an Italian sports car built with a Ford mid-mounted engine, and sporting a price tag ($10,000 in 1971) that once seemed ridiculous for what many would consider an exotic. Ford-imported from Italy to be sold at Lincoln Mercury dealerships, the car has become an icon since its initial U.S. production run. Many consider it to be one of the most underappreciated exotic sports cars ever produced, a fact even Jay Leno recently mused about in a recent segment of his “Garage” web show.
Ed Kemper fell in love with this ride from the moment he first laid eyes on it. You may know Ed from Island Driver TV as well as his many years of producing car reviews in the islands. He has been the proud owner of this 1972 Pantera since purchasing it in 1975. Originally yellow, the car has since been repainted in red “as all Italian exotics should be,” says Ed, who’s melted the tarmac for many years in many locations such as the H3 before it opened, Aloha Stadium and the former Hawaii Raceway Park. He’s even blown the engine to smithereens while pushing 6,000 RPMs, shooting a rod straight out of the block.
Luckily for Ed, the engine is easily replaceable thanks to the fact it’s a 351ci Ford Cleveland power plant. Its current iteration features a Crane Cam, a double pumper Holley 750 carburetor and high performance headers. Stock from the factory in 1971, the Pantera threw out a mind-numbing 330HP — a severely underrated feature as most examples rocked 380HP on the dyno. With a freshly rebuilt engine, you know this baby is pushing some red rage to go with its exotic looks.
This car is absolutely stunning. Its clean lines are flowing with dynamic cuts in all the right places. The vented bonnet provides cooling for the front-mounted radiator setup while gorgeous side-vents provide gulps of air for the mid-ship engine. Ed has enhanced its looks with a rear wing spoiler from the GT5 model. It’s been awhile since I’ve had the pleasure of photographing a sports car with some real meat on its tires, and these classic SSR Formula Mesh wheels (15×8 front, 15×10 rear) are fitted with Toyo Proxes (205/50R15s front and 295/50R15s rear) and are awesome to behold.
The interior looks fantastic for its age with monitoring gauges and levers aplenty. Ed has replaced the stock steering wheel with a MOMO Trek Red 350mm leather wheel and the accompanying shift knob. The bucket seats have been reupholstered with red leather and are perfect for racing.
Unlike many Panteras, this car has been driven daily four times a week as well as raced repeatedly throughout its four decade-plus lifespan. Ed plans to continue in SCCA as an officer, director and as a participant for the foreseeable future with his Pantera. When it comes to vehicle ownership, he’s frank and to the point: “If you have a car you like, drive it. What’s the point of keeping it in a garage? It’s not a museum piece.”
These are great words to live by, and it’s clear that Ed has been doing just that since he first laid eyes on this red devil.