My Purchase of #4033
I’ve only owned the “Banzai Runner” since May 2003, but it’s the culmination of a lifelong passion for these cars. Following are details of my purchase of #4033 – the Banzai Runner.
I’ve loved the styling of the Pantera ever since I saw my first one in the mid 70’s. I don’t remember when that was exactly, but I instantly became fond of the car’s beautiful Italian lines. In 1983 I attended the Nor-Cal Shelby Club’s first “Mini Nat’s” at Sears Point Raceway. I was there to look at Shelby GT350’s and generally anything Cobra. However, I remember admiring two Panteras that were at the event. I even recall how much I liked those Campy wheels – unbeatable uniqueness and style!
I recall that one of the Panteras running in the open track event at Sears Point Raceway (now Infineon Raceway) had an unfortunate incident on the track. It apparently spun out on a turn and was “T-boned” by a Shelby Mustang. I don’t remember any details of the incident other than hearing that the Pantera was almost split in two – unfortunate to say the least!
Five years later I was living and working in Santa Barbara, California and stumbled onto a beautiful ‘71 or ‘72 Pantera on the “Showplace Automobiles” used car lot on Chapala Street. The car was red with a black interior. I recall that the mufflers were almost white, and I was “in love.” Anyway, I paid a number of visits to the car and began price negotiations with the dealer. However, I was also saving to buy my first home and decided I needed a house with a garage before I needed another car, especially one so deserving of a garage.
Now, fast forward to 1999 (or 2000) when I saw a Pantera at the Monterey marina. The car was an orange 72 that had been subtly and tastefully upgraded for track use, and was beautiful! It was beginning to rain, but the owner graciously spent 10 minutes getting wet while telling me about the car. He and his wife were trailering it to Arizona to attend a driving school, and I believe they were subsequently heading to the POCA Fun Rally in Las Vegas. I wish I could remember their names or where they were from. On that wet afternoon I decided I wanted one, but it wasn’t the right time and I was soon preoccupied with my busy life, career and family again.
However, every year I attend the Monterey Historic Automobile Races with my brother, and as you can tell from the pictures below I continued to admire Panteras. The club corral at the track was always a favorite place for me.
Why a Pantera
I’m a “car guy” through and through! I have a 1966 GT Mustang Fastback that’s been going through a painfully slow restoration process over the last 15 years – you would be surprised at how little has been accomplished on the car in that time, what with returning to school, a growing family, a career change and buying, remodeling and selling several homes.
Some of the other marques I love are Porsche, Ferrari, Austin Healey, and BMW. And, my all-time favorite car is the 1962 Ferrari California Spyder SWB. However, the Pantera offers a perfect marriage of beautiful exotic Italian styling and Ford performance and reliability. And the Pantera is a relative bargain compared to any other exotic or semi-exotic! My annual insurance premiums on the Pantera are even less than the annual premiums on my ‘89 Mustang GT Convertible.
I was actually planning to build a kit car – the CalSpyder. It’s commonly recognized as the Ferris Bueller Ferrari from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” It’s a replica inspired by the Ferrari California Spyder and similar cars of the era. However, I encountered strong opposition from my wife concerning the time I have available for such a project. I finally conceded and began searching for something else I could have fun with and tinker on. I briefly considered a Ferrari 308 or 328. They’re very attractive and relatively affordable; that is until you consider the maintenance requirements and cost – definitely not within my budget!
I considered a 95 or 96 Porsche 993 too. I looked at a few cars, but found that examples in the condition I wanted cost quite a bit more than I had budgeted.
Details of the Search
Then, in January or February of 2003 I remembered the beautiful orange Pantera I saw at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey back in 1999, and how much I loved the styling. So, my quest for a Pantera began.
The first thing I needed to do was to get educated on things Pantera, and I began searching online for any information I could find. I combed the DeTomaso Forum Archives, joined the mail-list, thoroughly read the terrific owner websites, such as Mike Dailey’s “Pantera Place,” and contacted members of the Pantera Club of Northern California (PCNC). Mike Drew and Chuck Melton were especially helpful! They told me what to look for and avoid, and graciously took the time to answer my questions and point me in the right direction. Chuck had me over to his garage one afternoon and spent over 3 hours showing me his car, and where and what to look for as I inspect cars for sale. He also recommended that I attend the POCA event in Las Vegas that April, which I did (and it led to finding my car, but more on that later).
I looked at cars in Santa Clara, Los Gatos, Orange, Las Vegas and Phoenix. I also exchanged countless emails with sellers and club members all over the country. I made a trip to PI Motorsports in Orange, CA to inspect a car, and looked at a few of the other cars while I was there, but none of them were what I was looking for. However, it was a very valuable experience to compare so many cars for sale side-by-side in one showroom. The folks at PIM were very helpful. Anyone on the West coast considering buying their first Pantera should definitely make a trip to PI Motorsports to look at their inventory and learn more about different upgrades.
While scouring the Forum Archives I stumbled across a review of a car that Mike Drew had done, back in 1997. I emailed him with questions about what to look for when inspecting a Pantera and he provided me a very detailed email outlining the steps he follows when inspecting a car. I turned that email into a Checklist that proved to be very helpful as I looked at various cars for sale.
Anyway, Mike was overseas serving our country at the time so he recommended I contact Chuck Melton. Chuck had me over for an afternoon to see his car, and he pointed out problem areas to inspect, where to check for rust, common locations of body cracks, where to look for vehicle, body, engine and transaxle numbers, etc. I also learned a lot about Pantera parts availability and how pricey seemingly insignificant items could be, such as “un-cut” door panels. To make a long story short, Chuck encouraged me to attend the Las Vegas Fun Rally in April 2003, as it would be a great opportunity to view a large number of Panteras in one venue. I also expected that there might me a number of cars for sale there as well. So, the week before the Las Vegas Fun Rally, I booked a one-way flight there and reserved a rental car.
Friday, April 25
Made an offer on a yellow 72 Pantera with almost no upgrades. I was hoping to secure my car at that point and save myself the last minute trip to Las Vegas, but my offer was refused. I had looked at this car three times and really liked it, although I knew it was going to need some work. “Need some work” – my wife found those words very objectionable because her mandate was, “No project cars!” Needless to say, it’s better that my offer was refused – I’m still a happily married man!
When I started making my travel arrangements the week before the Fun Rally I found that there were no round-trip flights between Las Vegas and San Jose for the weekend of the Fun Rally. The Fun Rally coincided with the end of “Spring Break” so the earliest flight home would be the following Wednesday. So, at the last minute, I booked a one-way flight to Las Vegas and a one-way rental car at Hertz for the trip home, just in case. I actually was going on the hope that I’d be able to “thumb a ride” back with a club member from the Bay Area. I also emailed Mike and Chuck Melton to see if they knew of anyone who had a vacant passenger seat who might be willing to give me some seat time and a ride home. I really wanted to get some long-distance seat time in a Pantera to get a better sense of whether I would really like the car.
Saturday, April 26
Within an hour of my arrival in Las Vegas I ran into Chuck Melton on Fremont Street. He received my email the night before and introduced me to Dennis Turin, who has a beautiful red 72 Pantera. Within minutes, I had a ride home in a Pantera arranged for Sunday. God is good!
In the Union Plaza Hotel was a bulletin board, adjacent to the club host area, with everything from cars and parts for sale to notes for Pantera friends and family to meet at specified times and places. Amongst the cars for sale was a sign for the Banzai Runner – a yellow 72 Pantera, pre-L. I called the cell phone number that was on the sign and spoke with Christine Manning. She told me about the car, but that it wasn’t in Vegas for the rally. Her husband Al called me back a couple hours later while I was on the road to Phoenix and gave me all the details about the car. It sounded great, but beyond my budget.
As I mentioned above, I had left Las Vegas and drove 6 hours to Phoenix, Arizona to check out Bill Basore’s maroon 71 Pantera for sale.
I had a great time meeting Bill and his family, driving the Pantera and talking cars. I could have spent a lot more time there, but I had to head back to Vegas that same evening – I had planned to meet PCNC members at 8:30 am on Sunday for the drive back to San Jose. By the time I got back to Las Vegas, it was 3:30 am, so I stopped at a truck stop on the outskirts of town for a couple hours, took a nap, and took a shower. I went to the airport and returned my rental car and caught a cab to the hotel where I met up with my new friends.
Sunday, April 27
The ride back to San Jose was great! I rode with Dennis Turin from Las Vegas to Mohave, where we stopped for lunch. I was thoroughly impressed with the ride of Dennis’ Pantera – you’d never know it was a +30 year old car. And, I also discovered how little support (read: comfort) the stock seats offered.
I then got to ride with Bob Benson in his beautiful black 72 Pantera from Mohave to San Jose. Again, I was thoroughly impressed with the Pantera’s road manners and performance on a long distance road trip. I also learned the value of heater shut-off valves. It seems Bob’s car either didn’t have them or they weren’t shut off. I cooked the whole way home. But, the Recaro seats were very comfortable.
Now, back to the purchase.
May 6, 2003
I was talking to a friend of mine behind the parts counter at a local Ford dealer and learned of a black Pantera for sale that wasn’t advertised yet. He gave me the name and number of the owner and I promptly set up an appointment to view the car on Wednesday, May 14.
Wednesday, May 7
Al Manning called and left a message on my cell phone. I promptly called him back and was told his “real” asking price for the Banzai Runner Pantera. Although still outside of my budget, it was close enough to warrant an inspection. We made an appointment and the following Saturday I drove to Paso Robles to inspect the car.
Saturday, May 10
The early drive to Paso Robles to inspect Al’s Pantera (4033) was well worth it – I was not disappointed! We went for a long drive through the rolling hills around Heritage Ranch (Lake Naciemento) and I was almost certain that this was the car. It did have some paint blemishes and a few body dings, and the front carpet/flock has been removed due to a battery leak incident (the battery now lives in a battery-box with a shutoff switch), but mechanically the car was beautiful and a joy to drive. The rear trunk is original and the carpet is faded, but it still has all the original Dzuss fasteners. A list of the mechanical upgrades the car had is located on the Updates page of this website.
We didn’t discuss price at this point because I already had the appointment scheduled to look at the black 71 the following Wednesday. The black car sounded comparable to Al’s Pantera in terms of upgrades, and also had a bare-metal glass-out repaint and an engine rebuild with only 30,000 miles on it, and it was priced $3,000 less than Al’s car!
I told Al about the other car and committed to call him on Thursday, May 15 to let him know if I was interested in his or if I would be buying the other car.
Wednesday, May 14
I went to look at the black 71 Pantera in Los Gatos. The paint on this car was stunning. Black Imron that appeared very deep. It had a flat decklid, original mirrors (Mustang style) and stainless trim. I think this is one of the sharpest looking color combinations (next to yellow now, of course). But the car had a big-bore exhaust system and was LOUD! I lost count of how many car alarms we set-off while idling down the street in Los Gatos.
Thursday, May 15
I called Al to follow up on my original commitment. I actually preferred Al’s car overall, but there was a sizeable price difference. I made an offer on the Banzai Runner, Al countered, and I accepted. I promptly sent Al a check for deposit and finalized the financing arrangements with People First (extremely easy online loan process). I wanted to pick up the car that weekend, but Al and Christine were going out of town for a car show with their ’34 Ford – the new mistress that replaced the Pantera (see pics below). Al’s ’34 Ford Cabriolet is gorgeous and has been featured in a number of magazines. He has a hallway full of trophy’s testifying to it’s superb quality.
Anyway, I couldn’t pick the car up the following weekend either because Al and Christine were going out of town. I had to wait 3 weeks to get my car! I felt like a kid right before Christmas – I couldn’t wait! But, I did.
Friday, May 23, 2003
Finally, the day had come! My wife was busy helping out in the kid’s classrooms at school so I was on my own. I bought a ticket on Amtrak from San Jose to Paso Robles and made arrangements to meet Al at the station to complete the purchase. The train broke down and I “enjoyed” a lovely bus ride to the Amtrak station in Paso Robles.
Al and Christine picked me up, we went into town to complete our transaction, and I was on my way in MY “new” Pantera! Talk about “warm purchase glow!” I think I was in disbelief the entire drive home – I actually found the car I wanted and now possessed it. My jaw was stiff for a week from grinning the whole way home!
Finding this car was the culmination of over 3 months of diligent searching. If it were not for the kindness and generosity of PCNC members and the tremendous web resources such as the DeTomaso Forum and Mike Dailey’s Pantera Place website, I could not have purchased with such confidence. I wish to especially thank Mike Drew for taking the time to answer my ad nauseum questions in detail, and Chuck Melton for spending an afternoon educating me about things Pantera and pointing out on his car where the problem areas are and what to look for – I also enjoyed the full saga of Pantera Meets Motorcycle – you can read all about it on his website.
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