Produced from the early ’70s to the early ’90s, the Pantera is a mid-engined sportscar built by Italian manufacturer DeTomaso. These cars hold a special place in the hearts of Ford fans because the storied 351 Cleveland engine powered them. Later in the production run, DeTomaso switched to 351 Windsors, but in the SCT Performance display at The SEMA Show we spied a custom Pantera—built for the television show Fast ’N Loud—that brings its Blue Oval street cred into the modern era with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost swap.
“In the current season of Fast N’ Loud, the guys here at Gas Monkey Garage took on the heavy task of removing a 351 Ford motor from a 1972 Pantera, and replacing it with a 3.5-liter twin turbo Ford EcoBoost motor,” Rory Camangian, Strategy and Business Development Lead at Gas Monkey Garage, explained on the company blog.
In the current season of Fast N’ Loud, the guys here at Gas Monkey Garage took on the heavy task of removing a 351 Ford motor from a 1972 Pantera and replacing it with a 3.5 liter twin turbo Ford EcoBoost motor.—Rory Camangian, Gas Monkey Garage
“Over the years there have been quite a few Panteras roll through the shop. Richard has a thing for these cars and has purchased quite a few of them,” Jonathan Mansour, Director of Marketing at Gas Monkey Garage, explained. “We’ve had some decent to rough cars. This one was probably one of the nicest cars so we finally decided to have a go at building one.”
“The car originally came with a 351 Cleveland so naturally someone’s modern approach to this car would be to do a Coyote swap. That would have been the easy route,” Jonathan continued. “We have wanted to do a turbo build for a long time and this also gave us a reason to finally do it. The Ecoboost looked like a great choice and weighs a lot less than the boat anchor Cleveland and makes a lot more power. An already light car with a lighter weight drivetrain with more power sounded like a great combo.”
On The Challenge
Of course, taking on a such a pioneering swap added a great deal of complexity, which required a lot of custom work.
“There were a few challenges with the Ecoboost swap as well. QuickTime made us a one-off bellhousing/clutch combo to mate the EcoBoost to the stock ZF gearbox. The factory location of the turbos on the stock manifolds puts the turbos in the shock towers so Aaron fabricated a custom set of headers to relocate the turbos to the rear of the engine,” Jonathan said. “The factory intake manifold would also put the throttle body inside the cab so Aaron also fabricated a sheet metal intake manifold that faced backwards to make everything fit better.”
Overcoming the hardware challenges is definitely in the Gas Monkey Garage wheelhouse, but making all this complex gas turbo direct injection hardware play nice in a vintage sportscar required some custom calibration expertise, so the GMG team turned to the experts at SCT Performance.
We turned to SCT for our tuning calibration for many reasons. They are the leaders in Ford tuning software and really gave us the ability to tune the car like we needed to.—Jonathan Mansour, Gas Monkey Garage
“We reached out to SCT so they could get the Ford calibration in their database so their software engineers could get the info they needed to allow Adam to tune the car and see all the parameters in the ECU,” he added. “Once the software was available Adam from Revolution Automotive and David, from SCT, spent quite a few hours on the dyno and knocked the tune out of the park. The car exceeded our expectations on power and drivability so we couldn’t be happier. Car made an impressive 475 horsepower and 500 lb-ft at the wheels.”
We partnered with SCT because we wanted to build a car that would perform and be a heck of a lot of fun to drive.—Aaron Kaufman, Gas Monkey Garage
“Vehicles come off the factory with a one-size-fits-all mentality that is not optimized for personal performance,” Derive Systems, parent company of Bullydog and SCT Performance, CEO David Thawley, added. “We are proud to showcase our latest solutions that empower car owners to customize the driving experience to best suit their needs and preferences.”
Pushing modded EcoBoost applications, like Brad Gusler’s trend-setting EcoBoost Mustang, is an area of expertise for Adam Browne, the main man at Revolution Automotive. He also works closely with Vaughn Gittin Jr. of Mustang RTR, having tuned his Ultimate Fun Haver F-150 with an EcoBoost engine. These ties led Adam to work with the Gas Monkey Garage team.
“Our friend Brad Gusler of BG Racing was kind enough to recommend me when he caught wind of Gas Monkey’s intentions with the Pantera,” Adam explained. “That was in the planning stages of the build. From there I had some conversations with Jonathan Mansour (GMG’s Director of Marketing) and Aaron Kaufman. An extensive email train followed suit. That included consultation on the hard parts of the build and then we dove into the calibration challenges.”
Before he could dive all the way into the custom calibration, the Gas Monkey Garage team pulled the Control Pack PCM and sent it off to SCT Performance so the company’s engineers could add all the software parameters Adam needed to tweak.
SCT was awesome with their support for the second round of tuning.—Adam Browne, Revolution Automotive
With that support from SCT, Adam was able to build a custom calibration that took all this combination’s unique facets under consideration. Unlike a production vehicle with a known set of modification variables, a project like the Gas Monkey Garage Pantera is far more complex to calibrate.
Bringing it all Together
“First it was getting the software to have all of the parameters needed. After that, this wasn’t just a stock engine swap. The amount of custom parts is really quite unique and they needed to be dialed in to play friendly with each other,” Adam said. “Aaron from Gas Monkey built an amazing pair of one-off headers to mount the turbos over the ZF trans. He also made a reverse-facing sheetmetal intake fed by a custom air-to-air intercooler. Then throw Full Race’s hi-po Borg Warner turbos all being fed by an RTR high-pressure fuel pump. I had my calibration challenges ahead of me.”
Having worked on some of Vaughn’s unusual projects and having experience with the new RTR high-pressure pump for Ford direct-injection applications did offer a slight advantage, but there were a lot of variables to contend with.
“All aspects of the tune needed to be tweaked. I was able to pull from my experience doing R&D for Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his RTR EcoBoost program,” Adam explained. “That gave me a pretty good idea of what type of fueling and turbo changes I would need to dial in the Full Race compressors and the RTR high-pressure pump. The sheet metal intake and custom headers added another dimension to the calibration on top of those.”
Gas Monkey Garage Pantera Mods
• Ford Performance 3.5-liter EcoBoost crate engine
• Ford Performance Controls Pack
• Full Race Motorsports turbo upgrades
• Gas Monkey Garage custom header
• Gas Monkey Garage custom intake
• Gas Monkey Garage custom intercooler
• Mustang RTR high-pressure fuel pump
• SCT Performance Livewire and custom tuning
In the end, the Gas Monkey Garage EcoBoost swap turned out beautifully and Adam’s tuning prowess showed in the car’s driveability and output. Strapped to the Dynojet rollers at Advanced Modern Performance resulted in peak outputs of over 472 horsepower and 498 lb.-ft. of torque at the rear wheels–giving this vintage sportscar performance that is far more reminiscent of the modern Ford GT than that of a Mustang with a 351C.
“…I was pleasantly surprised when I found out the car would be in SCT’s SEMA booth,” Adam added. “And in addition to that, SCT was on board with supporting the build. SCT is my go-to software for tuning so this was a win-win.”
It is definitely a win, but what’s it like to drive such an innovative machine?
“The car is an absolute blast to drive. The power-to-weight ratio couldn’t be better. The drivability is so good it makes it feel like a modern car when driving around town and cruising down the freeway,” Jonathan added. “Once you get into the skinny pedal and the boost comes in you better hold on. The sound coming from the exhaust is quite intoxicating since it’s just turbo noise for days. Although the motor originally started in an F-150 it sounds nothing like a V6 pickup motor.”
We combed over the car at the show, and it was definitely a winning combination. Pantera’s will always carry a certain mystique, but one motivated by Ford’s latest powerplant takes a special car and makes it one of a kind.