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Hidden for 24 years, a DeTomaso Pantera comes back to life


Barn find aficionados enjoy discovering cars wherever they lie hidden, but nothing moves them quite like the reveal of classic preserved by time and neglect despite its surroundings. Here's one that fits the template to a T: the unearthing of an exotic Italian sports car from a semi trailer left to rust — and the revival of a car that hasn't been driven in 24 years.

Those of us from a certain era will remember the De Tomaso Pantera of the 1970s as the once-affordable alternative to the Lamborghinis and Ferraris of the time. Built with Italian style and a Ford 351 V-8 engine good for roughly 330 hp, and sold at Lincoln-Mercury dealers, the Pantera was just exotic enough to attract attention without the overhead mechanical costs of its peers. (Among its celebrity owners: Elvis Presley.) Today, the Pantera has a healthy following among collectors and nostalgia buffs; auction prices have grown to $60,000 for near-perfect examples with their classic wheels intact.

According to seller Steve Cipriani, this 1974 Pantera L was originally sold in Albany, N.Y., and over the next 15 years had two other owners rack up 32,000 miles. Around 1981 the Pantera got a full servicing and a few engine upgrades for $11,000, but in 1989 it was rolled into a semi trailer for safekeeping — where it sat until a couple of months ago, when Cipriani and crew pried it from its metal tomb. It's a reveal that's better than most reality TV shows can pull off:

Since then, they've given the Pantera a once-over and restored it to running condition, although they warn it's not ready for the road. And as with any car stored for so long, just because the engine fires doesn't mean everything else works as needed, from the brakes to the gearbox and suspension; not to mention the need for vigilance against rust. Cipriani has it up for sale on eBay, where the price sits below the reserve at $37,900. Chances are whoever owns it next won't stick it in a metal box for another 20 years.