general Pantera Purchasing Guidelines
There are TWO major points of concern above and before anything else...
I. FRAME RUST: There must be absolutely no frame rust at all. Unless you want to end up doing a frame-off restoration yourself
II. TRANSAXLE CONDITION: Transaxle should shift smooth with no grinding while driving. Any repair here is EXPENSIVE!
There are all the obvious things you need to do whenever buying any kind of car. But some of the less obvious things to look for is if the owner happens to have membership in POCA or TPR which "may" indicate they have maintained the vehicle, or at least they might be aware of the items of concern needed to maintain the vehicle.
When contemplating purchasing a Pantera, start by asking;
1. How long current owner has had ownership
2. Who serviced the vehicle. Unless he has a very complete service record be very careful and proceed with caution no matter what.
3. Ask about any accidents, liens, etc.
4. Ask to look at the vehicle, preferably on a hoist
5. Bring two tools.....an hammer style ice pick and a good magnet.
a. Use the ice pick to probe the monocoque frame members (looking for rust) which may have a good undercoating, but can "hide"
structural rust and damage.
b. If you find ANY STRUCTURAL RUST walk away from the car immediately no matter how much you like the engine and paint.
Assuming you could EVER get the car to track correctly after replacement of structural pieces the cost would be prohibitive. It can
cost them $25k JUST to fab & weld replacement pieces. Monocoque construction means the frame and body are constructed in one
piece and makes for a very stable, quiet car UNLESS the car has been exposed to rust and corrosion either by salted roads or even
driven just on wet roads.
6. BODY- Also, do a complete visual on the car's body. Look for obvious bubbles, blisters on paint which could indicate rust under the paint. Pay particular attention to the window frame, and the lower panels. Use the magnet to protect from a previous painted and/or repaired car either in a hurry or on a budget, and who just bondo'd over the rust or corrosion damage because they know they are selling it ...or perhaps the guy before him knew. If the car has not been owned for more than 3 years buy the seller, be careful on this one. Some cases have been uncovered where the buyer bought a car and stripped it down and find out TWO cars had been welded together. In other cases, considerable rust under the bondo and NEW paint have surfaced as well. The magnet should find it. New paint is cheap, but to properly cut out rust and re-fabricate steel replacement pieces is not cheap.
7. TRANSAXLE- If the car passes both of those big frame and body inspections, next you will want some detailed information on the most expensive item on the car...the German ZF transaxle. Consider that just a minor rebuild could easily cost 3,000 to 5,000 dollars, and a major rebuild or replacement could cost 7,000-10,000 dollars. So ask the details, such as 1.) When was it rebuilt 2.) Who was it built by. If it was not rebuilt by Butfoy, Hall, Wilkinson or one of the other known vendors (ask if your not sure) you must pay attention to how the gear box sounds. Does it whine? Is it difficult to get into gear? While that also could just me be a throw out bearing, clutch slave, etc... a transaxle going bad will show it's damage when you drive it. Also look at the gear oil. This is not easy to do but should be done. There is a side hex nut that has to be undone and unless you have the tools, have real mechanic do it who knows transaxles, Porsche or otherwise.
8. ENGINE- If it's a recent rebuild look over the receipts. Also ask who did the work. Be wary of anyone who is telling you he's asking more because he has a well built engine. Ask to see records and proof or ask a good technician if you are not sure.
9. ELECTRONICS- Remember to check all the lights (up and down), windows, A/C, cooling fans on radiator, etc. Panteras should run 180-190F on the road and no more then 210-220F HOT in traffic, so let the car sit after test drive and see what temp does. Most owners have installed aftermarket performance radiators and cooling fans so ask what that owner has done for cooling. As with any 30 year old car and with unplated connectors, most of these cars have regular problems with electronics While this area is repairable, be sure to factor in the cost to diagnose, replace and repair these things.
10. BRAKES / SHOCKS / WHEEL BEARINGS- Shake wheel & tires while car is jacked up, as well as the springs, suspension, and anything you can get at. These are not necessarily critical and are easily replaced. Just check them for safety. A-arm bushings and shocks are all big safety items.
Do you homework, make your investigation thorough. There are enough nice Panteras so don't buy on emption, buy on practicality and reality.