The annual Hot Wheels Legends Tour is back after taking August off, and the brand has selected a resto-modded 1971 De Tomaso Pantera as a finalist in the event. Inspired by the world of vintage racing, the coupe will compete for the chance to join the Hot Wheels catalog.
Dave Adelman of Dallas, Texas, spent about 14 years building his dream Pantera. He drew inspiration from the cars that competed in Group 4 races in the 1970s but chose not to create a replica. Instead, he gave his project a one-of-a-kind look by integrating wheel arch flares into the body, fitting more modern-looking headlights, and removing the exterior door handles. Blue paint and white accents on the lower body add a finishing touch to the look. It’s not just for show: Adelman also installed a roll cage to make the Pantera eligible for vintage racing.
While the Pantera was built for competition, it’s not a stripped-out track car. Inside, there’s a pair of bucket seats, an aftermarket two-spoke steering wheel with a 12-o’clock mark, and full instrumentation, including a row of auxiliary gauges on the center stack. The upholstery, the carbon fiber trim on the dashboard, and the shift knob aren’t original, but they bring this Pantera in line with the popular resto-modding trend.
Pop the hood and you’ll find even more extensive modifications. Stock, a 1971 Pantera uses a Ford-sourced 5.8-liter V8 rated at about 326 horsepower and 344 pound-feet of torque. Adelman replaced this engine with a General Motors-sourced 7.0-liter V8 — that’s the same LS7 unit that powered the sixth-generation Chevrolet Corvette Z06, among other cars. It was rated at 505 horsepower in the C6, but it features modifications like a Harrop Engineering intake system and an eight-to-one header that should add a few horses to the cavalry. The V8 spins the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission from a 1980s Porsche 911, of all cars, while Wilwood brakes keep the power in check.
Like the previous finalists, Adelman’s Pantera will move on to one of the two semi-final rounds taking place in November 2023. The winner will earn a spot in the Hot Wheels catalog of 1/64-scale cars, meaning it could end up on your desk, in your kid’s toy box, or both. Getting scaled down will be easier said than done, however. The list of 2023 finalists includes a lifted Mercedes-Benz 300D (W123), a one-of-a-kind 1981 Chevrolet Camaro that looks like it was beamed from a 1980s Hot Wheels catalog, and a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado powered by a mid-mounted turbodiesel engine. The tour isn’t over, either: there are two more stops planned in Arizona and California, respectively.