Panther Westwinds, usually referred to as Panther, was a British speciality automobile manufacturer. The company was founded in 1972 by Robert Jankel and based in Surrey, UK. Panther Westwinds became famous for their retro-styled cars based on production mechanicals. Among the most famous Panther cars were the Panther J72, the Panther Rio and the Panther 6. In 1980, the company was bought by Korean citizen Young Kim and the company shifted focus to other types of cars. In the early 1990’s, Panther was liquidated to the Korean Ssang Yong Motor Company.
The first product from the Panther Westwinds was the Panther J72, which was produced from 1972 through 1981. This was an exclusive luxury car and soon it became highly popular among celebrities, especially in the United States. The Panther J72 received a lot of praise at the 1973 London Motor Show and turned into a great success for the newly founded company. The Panther J72 was styled like a Jaguar SS100 and included mechanicals from the XJ12, including a 5.3 L Jaguar V12 engine. For those who wanted, it was also possible to get the Panther J72 with a 3.8 L or 4.2 L XK engine. Roughly 500 Panther J72 cars were produced.
In 1975, Panther Westwinds announced the Panther Rio. This was a Triumph Dolomite with grotesque ‘Rolls-Royce’ styling, and the price tag was really high. You could get three Triumph Dolomites for the same price as one Panther Rio.
A third example of a famous Panther car is the legendary Panther 6. Only one Panther 6 was ever constructed. (A copy was however built later, right before the company collapsed.) The Panther 6 was equipped with no less than 6 wheels and sported slick aerodynamic convertible bodywork. The vehicle was powered by a mid-mounted Cadillac 8.2L V8 with twin turbochargers.
The Panther De Ville made its debut in 1974, positioning itself above the J72 as Panther Westwinds’s top model. The Panther De Ville was even more grandiose and glitzy than the previous Panther and only a very low number of cars were ever produced. When production ceased in 1985, roughly 60 cars had been built in over a decade.
The Panther De Ville was designed to mimic the 1930 Bugatti Royale and came in full pomp with flowing wing lines, huge headlights and a lavish interior. The inside of these cars was custom made and would often contain a drinking bar as well as TV. A majority of the cars were fixed-top models, but getting a convertible was also possible. For the most flamboyant customer, a pink and gold six-door limousine was created.
The Panther De Ville was tubular-framed and had a huge 142-inch wheelbase. It used Jaguar XJ12 mechanicals, including Jaguar 6 and 12-cylinder engines. You could pick the 4.2 L (4235 cc) Jaguar I6 or the 5.3 L (5343 cc) Jaguar V12 engine. Suspension, power steering and automatic transmission were also Jaguar produced. One of the main problems with this car, in addition to its lofty price tag, was poor aerodynamics that made it hard to drive fast. The final price landed on 100,000 British pounds.