This article was not published in a Club magazine, but is included as a help to new & prospective owners.
Guide for Panther Lima and Panther Kallista.
I am often contacted by telephone, email, post etc
and asked for my advice or opinion on the virtues or otherwise! of
choosing a Panther car or a particular model. Caught off guard while busy
or not paying attention there are a few points I may miss. For that reason
I have compiled this document. It is based on my 28 years experience of
owning all types & models of Panthers and the experience gained from
mixing with fellow Panther owners & club members over those 28 years.
This should not necessarily be taken as a definitive guide, but should
help a lot, I can always be contacted for any other questions you have
that you feel I may be able to assist with. George Newell email
I have not included the DeVille, J72 or Solo in this guide as they are a bit more specialist, but I do have ownership knowledge of both the DV and the Solo.
There is a Mk1 & a Mk2 (may also be called Series 1 & Series 2). The S 2 had many cosmetic improvements over the S1, but was fundamentally different in that it had a purpose built box section steel chassis. The S1 is basically a Vauxhall Magnum floor pan ‘cut & shut’ with extra square box section to improve rigidity. The S2 is significantly heavier as a result of this sturdier chassis. The chassis is the definitive means of telling a Mk1 from a Mk2. The factory did offer ‘Update Packs’ to make a S1 look like a S2. The original differences were that the S1 had a black plastic dash with the 7dial pod fitted straight from the Magnum, the S2 was fitted with a Walnut Dash and Smiths type instruments. Both models now carry many of the same upgrades although it is unlikely that you will find a S2 in this country with a black plastic dash. Generally the Mk1 Lima had either quite nice ‘bucket’ seats or ‘flat back’ seats on very early models, both without headrests and fixed non-adjustable backs. The Mk2 had a different type of seat, which was fitted with headrests and had a fully adjustable back. To definitively note the model – check the chassis!
Both models are based on the running gear of the Vauxhall 2,300cc Magnum.
As with all the Panther range the cars are now quite old & should be checked in the same way that you would check any vehicle. A known & accepted weakness with the Mk1 is that severe rust can affect the bottoms of both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ posts, pay particular attention to the area of chassis just in front of the rear wheels, peel back carpets as well to inspect. If badly corroded it is a ‘body-off’ job to be repaired properly, in many cases this has been done. Be on the lookout for ‘patched’ welding & tight gaps around the door, which may indicate poor repair or work needed.
Check for these know weak spots on the Mk1.
Both models consist of a two-part body joined at the
Both models consist of a two-part body joined at the running board just in front of the rear wheel arch. Panthers usually were of a good build & finish quality so if there are any signs of fracture or ‘stress cracks’ it may indicate a repair – at least you won’t find any rust on the body! The doors are MG Midget, just slightly modified in the hinge area, naturally these should be inspected for corrosion. The windscreen on both models is of flat glass so should not present a problem for replacement. The S2 generally was fitted with an improved screen surround having a rubber seal between it and the bulkhead whereas the S1 is usually sealed with a black ‘mastic’ type sealant. If fitted with Tubular stainless steel bumpers then these are Panther design, earlier cars were fitted with traditional chromed bumpers that were from the front only off the Austin Maxi.
In 1977 a Silver Jubilee model was produced 2-tone Silver & Gunmetal with a round ‘badge’ on the doors. A lot of these cars have since been painted in different colours and been ‘de-badged’. A Turbo Lima was also produced which differed in that it was fitted with 14” Alloys as opposed to the normal Chrome wire wheels, this was early days of Turbo & many of the cars suffered from overheating etc. Several Turbo Limas have been modified ‘back’ to standard configuration.
The Magnum ‘Slant 4’ engine is 2,300cc; if it has a different engine it has been changed after build. Oil leaks are not particularly unknown in the 2.300cc engine, not altogether a bad thing as it helps preserve the chassis!
Originally it was fitted with a 4-speed gearbox (some Autos) except for the Turbo Lima or the DTV, which had 5 speeds, fitted. Ahh you say what is this DTV not mentioned before! The factory produced a ‘performance’ Lima called the DTV (Dealer Team Vauxhall) generally with a big valve head, high lift cam, four branch manifold & twin Dellortos (or similar). Young enthusiastic owners converted many ‘Standard’ Limas to DTV in the early days. Often though you might find a car just fitted with a pair of carbs & called a DTV…
The soft top on the Lima is particular to the car so needs to be checked as a replacement may be costly.
Much has been said about ‘changes’ and ‘modifications’ from the Original, this should not necessarily detract from the car, in many areas the car needed improving! One advantage of owning any Panther is that making changes does not mean reducing its value, unlike say an E-Type, which must always remain as it left the factory!
If you come to any of our Club meetings you are unlikely to find 2 cars that are the same.
It is much more difficult to be definitive when discussing the Kallista due to the many variants of engine size and the differences when catering for the export market. For the purposes of this article we will concentrate mainly on those cars produced for the UK market.
Differing from the Lima, the Kallista is made with an aluminium body and steel ‘Panther Own’ doors. The body is made up of 4 separate wings, nose cone, bonnet & rear tub. The wings were fitted to the body with large ‘pop’ rivets. The windscreen is also a ‘Panther Own’ – it is not a MG screen! Nor are they MG doors.
Ford engines were fitted, namely the 1,600cc Escort engine coupled to a Sierra 5-speed gearbox, 2,800cc ‘Granada’ engine with Granada 5-speed gearbox and lastly a 2,9i version. Generally speaking if you have ‘the need for speed’ you may prefer to choose either the 2.8 or 2.9i. The 2.8 comes in both carburettor and injection, if choosing the injection model do be sure the car does run correctly as an overhaul of the injection system can be costly.
With any Kallista most cosmetic faults are there to be seen – worn fabric seats, corrosion (blistering) to areas of paintwork, dents in the wings or bonnet and wear & tear to the soft top. The chassis is of a sturdy construction similar to that of the Mk2 Lima, but do check it as they also now can exceed 20 years of age.
A common problem with the hood is that it is often folded down in a way that traps the fabric between the folding iron frame causing a puncturing of the hood, check the corners of the hood just above the quarter light for any signs of a small perforation.
Most Kallista cars were sold in a very basic form with absolutely no extras, this is the reason why no two cars are hardly ever the same. Extras ordered from new went from a simple coach-line to full leather and 2-tone paintwork. Needless to say over the years the original specification of many of the cars has changed according to the taste of current owner. Many cars have undergone a complete colour change, quite often improving on the original spec. Having said that there are one or two ‘rogue’ cars out there, so if in doubt try to seek further advice.
The running gear on Kallista is a ‘mix & match’ of Ford parts so parts availability is not too much of a problem.
Early cars may still have the original powder coated tubed bumpers, these should be checked, as often the metal rusts away under the powder coating causing the ends to break away. Mostly these have been replaced by now with the later Panther own stainless steel tubular bumpers although there are also some chrome plated tubed bumpers also fitted. Most differences between cars can be accounted for by the variety of extras fitted.
As stated before the Kallista chassis has a sturdy box section, on later models there are several round ‘drilled’ holes on the bottom face of the chassis, which originally had rubber bungs in them. The purpose of these holes is for access to inject any sort of Waxoyl rust protection, in my view after treatment it better to leave the bungs out and the holes open. This facilitates air circulation and will ensure any moisture in the chassis will drain out.
If you have any doubts on certain issues with any Panther you are inspecting you should seek further advice.