The following article was published twice in serial form in copies of the Panther Patter, due to many requests it is being published here in its entirety.
THE HISTORY OF THE PANTHER KALLISTA 1982-1990
First produced as prototypes in 1982 by The
Panther Car Company, the Kallista was a direct descendant from the Lima, built
by The Panther Westwinds Company in the late ‘70’s. Therefore any history
of the Kallista must firstly acknowledge and appreciate its roots in the Lima.
Founded in 1972 by Robert Jankel, The Panther
Westwinds Company’s specialization was based upon the low-volume production
of hand crafted expensive ‘replicars’ which were ‘exotic cars for even
more exotic customers. By the mid ‘70’s It was clear this was no recipe
for the growth that this extraordinary specialist company needed if it was to
retain its independence. This could only happen with a relatively cheap,
relatively high-volume model - a sort of bread-and-butter Panther - that
retained the marques familiar virtues. So came about the fibre-glass bodied
Lima, created by the entrepreneurial Robert Jankel.
A great precedent was achieved with the launch of
Lima as specialist Panther linked closely with mass producer Vauxhall, who
agreed to provide components for the Lima - and
appointment of key Vauxhall Dealers to sell the car.
The design of Lima was started by Jankel in
mid-’76, and offended by the label ‘replicar’, put on the J72 and De
Ville models went to great lengths to base Lima’s design on nothing in
in essence it was a distillation of the best of 1930’s classic sports car
design. In striking manner, it had to reek of nostalgia and the times when
motoring was fun. Two important additional selling features of Lima were the
modern saloon ride comfort and the ease of maintenance from the utilisation of
readily-available Vauxhall parts.
Development of Lima took place at a rapid pace
and after just a few months the prototype was shown at the October 1976 Earls
Court London Motorshow, to a very positive reception. (87 firm orders each
with a £500 deposit).
Technically the first Lima (S1) incorporated many
Vauxhall parts including a much-modified pressed steel Magnum floorpan which
was strengthened with a new steel bulkhead, some interior stress-bearing steel
panelling, and tubular structures under the door sills. Suspension was
standard Vauxhall and the engine was the Magnum’s 2279cc 4-cylinder unit,
producing 108 bhp at 5000rpm. With steel doors (from the MG Midget), a tubular
steel superstructure was mounted to the floor and formed a frame for the
unstressed fiberglass body. The high quality body was moulded in two main
sections only, forward and rear, divided behind the doors.
It was Lima’s detailing that made it a true
Panther including a stylish two-tone colour scheme and colour-matched Connolly
leather seat facings. Options included an integral front full spoiler, tonneau
cover, auto transmission, ZF 5-speed gearbox and Dealer Team Vauxhall sports
parts. Production of Lima grew rapidly from 190 in 1977 to 250 in 1978 and 350
in 1979. At its launch, Lima sold for just under £5000 for the standard car.
A significant re-engineering of Lima took place
with the introduction of the superior Lima S2 model in 1979 which featured a
stronger purpose-built chassis and other detailed changes including a full
financial difficulties including a drop in sales of the more expensive Lima S2
model led to the calling in of the Receiver to Panther Westwinds just before
Christmas in December 1979. One immediate consequence was that in January half
the workforce were made redundant but limited production of cars continued
whilst the Receiver sought a buyer for the Company as a going concern. This
process took some time and by September the last car was built and in October
the remaining workforce were laid off. Finally the Company assets - including a stock of unfinished Limas -
transferred to the new owner the Korean Y C Kim in November with the re-named
‘Panther Car Company Limited’ launched in early 1981.
Subsequently during 1981 and the first part of
1982 the definitive ‘Mark IV’ Limas were built in a limited volume of
around 23 units. A ‘Mark IV’ was exhibited for the last time at the
October 1981 Earl’s Court Motorfair -alongside the re-engineered J72 called ‘Brooklands’ and a De Ville - all 3 in a striking black and white two-tone livery.
BIRTH OF KALLISTA
was during 1981 that the future model line-up of Y C Kim’s newly acquired
Panther Car Company was closely evaluated. First consideration was given to
the assets which in model terms were J72, De Ville, and Lima for which various
cars and parts had been transferred to the new Company -
of course the rights to continue manufacture.
market opportunity was clearly evident following British Leyland’s decision
to stop production of both its MG and TR7 ‘British’ sportscars at this
time due to sales falling below its high target volumes required for mass
production. Although sports saloons and a few convertibles also were taking up
many of this sports category sales - there
was considered to be a future steady 2000 per annum market in Europe for an
open sports car (Lima style) provided that the following criteria could be
A UK tax inclusive price of £7,300 could be achieved.
Body-work of ‘non-plastic’ material.
Engine variations should permit a powerful engine option
those countries where no penal
taxes based on engine capacity
Jankel had been employed by Y C Kim and the new Panther Car Company, and one
of his briefs was to re-engineer Lima to accept new engine and mechanicals.
This was necessary because even at the time of Lima launch, the Vauxhall
Magnum on which it relied for many parts was going out of production and an
alternative source of supply had to be found. The solution to this problem
came from an alliance with The Ford Motor Company who through their Power
Products Division were willing and able to supply engines, drivetrains and
other parts as required to be incorporated in the new model. Therefore the car
being developed during 1981 was effectively a ‘Ford Lima’.
November 1981, following customer feedback at the Earl’s Court Motorfair
(where Lima MkIV, J72 ‘Brooklands’ and De Ville were on show) It was
decided to stop De Ville and J72 ‘Brooklands’ production in order to
concentrate on re-designing a replacement for Lima to satisfy the above
perceived market opportunity. It was accepted that the basic style and concept
of Lima was right and that a re-design and re-engineering of an existing model
would be quicker and less costly than developing a completely new car -
it would still prove to be a major undertaking.
costs were an early important consideration in order to retain profit from a
keen selling price. However at a very late stage it was decided that the new
car should have mainly aluminium bodywork in keeping with the Panther
tradition of hand-built coachwork. Utilising facilities at a container
manufacturing plant available at Jindo Industries in Korea, (the Y C Kim
family business) the steel chassis and aluminium body were quickly developed,
with a first prototype reaching the UK in January 1982. Compared to Lima, the
new car was wider and longer with stretched doors, larger windows and a
bigger, more accessible luggage compartment. Unfortunately a real opportunity
to have increased the narrow interior cabin width was missed in the
the motive power, Ford could offer a choice of a 1.6 litre 94 bhp 4-cylinder
CVH engine from the Escort XR3 plus the exciting 2.8 litre 133 bhp V6 unit
from Granada. The 1.6 litre could be offered with a 4-speed standard or
5-speed optional transmission whereas the 2.8 came with the 5-speed manual as
standard and a 3-speed optional automatic.
detailed changes were made including a curved windscreen and fully folding
soft-top and importantly It was decided to launch the new car in a basic form
at as low a price as possible - with
a long list of extra cost options. Such items as wood veneer fascias, leather
covered seats and sun visors were all options at this stage and it would be
possible in principle for the new car to be also personalised to suit
individual customer taste.
significantly different car from Lima demanded a new name. A competition held
failed to generate a suitable new name -
it was finally Y C Kim himself who christened the new car KALLISTA, being
derived from the meaning of the Greek work for ‘small and beautiful’.
crash testing for type approval completed just in time, the new model Panther
Kallista was launched to the press on October 11th and then just one week
after, to the public at the 1982 International Motorshow, NEC at which time 6
pre-production cars had been completed. Having previously decided to market
the car directly from the factory for the UK rather than through dealers, the
price was announced at a very competitive £5,850 including taxes for the 1.6
litre and £6,800 for the 2.8 model. At the close of the Show over 100 orders
accompanied by £500 deposits were taken for the first production cars.
flow-line system to hand-build Kallistas was installed at the Canada Road,
Byfleet factory with production starting In March at 2-3 cars per week
following initial teething problems. An early pre-production car went to
France starting the export business for Kallista which over the years would
take a large proportion of the total Kallistas manufactured.
the rate of production increased (to 8 cars per week by the end of 1983) it
was clear that the existing factory, with 30,000 square feet, could not
accommodate the new production and office facilities required; so in April
1983 additional warehousing space of 4,700 square feet was leased for stores.
But this was a short term solution only. By December 21st 1983 a creditable
201 Kallistas had been delivered to customers (124 UK market, 60 export and 17
longer term solution was to lease (for 5 years) new premises of 40,000 square
feet on the Brooklands Industrial Park just a minute away from Canada Road.
Following a £100,000 investment on the facility, the first Kallistas
commenced production on January 6th 1984. By this time prices of Kallistas had
increased by 27% for the 1.6 to £7,425 (although the 5-speed gearbox was now
a standard fitment there having been actually only 2 cars built with the
4-speed unit) and by 17% for the 2.8 to £7995.
1983 a new model Kallista was planned with the injected 2.8 litre V6 instead
of the carburreted 2.8 and this car was launched at the October Motorfair
London Show. The injection engine could better meet emission regulations
important for export markets. For the UK it was decided to offer the injection
engine only with an up-specced Kallista which would offer as standard duo-tone
paint, centre console, 14” alloys etc. When this model finally reached
production in May 1984 its list price at £9,245 was some £1,250 more than
the more basic 2.8 carburreted car.
volume terms at least, 1984 was to prove the most successful year ever for
Kallista with 401 cars built and UK registration of 238 cars (SMMT figures).
Underlying this positive situation however, major problems had arisen. Clearly
the costs to build Kallista had been underestimated and it was necessary to
move the price significantly upwards and in October 1984 a major price
increase of 26% was made - although certain previous options such as wood
veneer fascia, radio cassette and head restraints were included as standard
fitment. In a difficult marketplace Kallista sales slumped, RHD cars were
built for stock and redundancies occurred late in the year -
developing export business unable to quickly absorb the spare production
interesting interlude occurred during the year as the Panther Car Company gave
their backing to a return to the UK Motorsports scene. (Panther Westwinds
enjoyed some success in production sports circuit racing with a Lima raced by
driver Chris Meek in the late ‘70’s). With
the new sports Solo announced for launch at the ‘84 International Motorshow,
Panther were interested to gain Motorsport credibility. Prompted by contact
with Tony Bostock, Editor of ‘Sportscar Mechanics' magazine it was decided
to enter a 2.8 injection Kallista in the June Willhire 24-hour Race at
Snetterton for production sports and saloon cars. Experienced driver Tony
Stubbs headed a new competition department which prepared the first Kallista
001 for the Willhire with event testing at Brands Hatch and Castle Combe in
April. In the June 2nd and 3rd race the Kallista was qualified in 16th (out of
39 cars) driven by Tony Stubbs/Carolynn Grant-Sale/Tony Bostock/Gerhard Bauer
but failed to finish the race. A tie-up with Ingersol-Rand Professional Tools
Group as main sponsor allowed the same car to be entered in the BRSCC
Production Sports Car Series and other events in the second half of 1984 and
in March - and partly to assist test and development of the racing
Kallista - The Goodwood Circuit in Sussex was hired for the day of
the 23rd as a Kallista Test Day to which were invited existing and prospective
owners. Fully supported by factory personnel, the event proved to be a great
by an original concept idea from Auto Becker Company, Germany (the Panther
Concessionaire), the most radical of special version Kallistas was built in
time for display ,at the 1984 NEC International Motor Show. Called the
‘Roadster 2.8’ it was most notable for a complete lack of weather
protection. In place of the regular windscreen were a pair of semi-circular
folding aero screens and the car had no side screens, hood or even tonneau
cover. Other detailing included silver body/black wings, chequered aluminium
running boards and rear wing protectors, black bumpers, series 1 Lima bucket
seats, brushed aluminium dashboard panel, wire stoneguards on the headlamps
and a wire mesh grille (This latter item being a prototype for a future
Kallista option~ An interesting concept and show car perhaps, but orders for
production cars were not forthcoming and the car was stripped and re-built as
a conventional model.
statistics show that production of Kallista dropped dramatically in 1985 to
just 121 cars although 167 units were delivered to customers including stock
built the previous year. SMMT figures show that just 54 Kallistas were
registered by UK customers with the bulk of the cars going for export. New
orders slumped to just 38 from UK customers during the year.
some UK customers opted for the 1.6 Kallista model, most export markets such
as Germany, Holland and Malaysia preferred the more powerful 2.8 mostly with
carburetors rather than fuel injection.
small 5% price increase in July 1985 moved the list prices including taxes for
the UK market to £10,747 (1.6), £11,497 (2.8) and £11,968 (2.81). The basic
specification was now the same for all 3 models, except the 2.81 had larger
diameter (14”) alloy wheels with low profile tyres.
most important development of 1985 was the move to export of Kallista to the
USA which involved the setting up of a new distributorship and the development
of a substantially revised Kallista known as the ‘Federal’ car.
Independently of the Panther Car Company UK, Y C Kim set up a company and
facility in Jacksonville Florida call ‘The Panther Car Company of North
America’ abbreviated to ‘PCCNA’ - especially
to import, market and distribute the federal Kallista.
revisions were required to the existing Kallista in order to meet the tough US
regulations especially regarding lighting, crash protection and engine
emissions. A modified chassis featured a new floorpan, solid suspension
pick-up points, anti-intrusion plate on the door sills and shortened chassis
ends to incorporate ~ (Energy Absorption Units) -
to dual stainless steel bumpers front and rear (a distinctive styling
feature). Other changes to meet legislations included a crash proof fuel tank,
collapsable spare wheel bracket and special lighting, indicators and
reflectors. Certain features developed for this ‘Federal’ car notably the
full width veneer fascia and semi-spoiler later became standard fitment on all
heart of a car is its engine and unfortunately the unit selected for the car
in order to get certification for the US was a poor performer. A 2.3
4-cylinder engine from the Ford Mustang was purchased from Ford Canada and
running on carburetors with catalyst could muster only 88 bhp at 4000 rpm -even less power than the UK spec 1.6 litre. Of course it did offer ease of
servicing for the US market.
With air con as standard the Federal Kallista was
launched in late ‘85 at a base price of 23,500 Us $ and
offered ‘a truly distinctive and exclusive British Sports Car. A beautiful
aluminium bodied British roadster with award winning coachwork using the
finest materials throughout, including burr walnut dashboard and door cappings’.
A first car was airfreighted to the States in
September with 26 cars shipped from the UK by the end of 1985 -
PCCNA opened up a small dealer network sell the cars.
In terms of production and delivery of Kallistas,
the year of 1986 had three distinct phases - with
cars for the USA (January-April), other export (May-July) and then UK Domestic
The confident and positive launch (in fact a
re-entry) of Panther Cars to the USA led by Sales & Marketing Director,
Ralph Wilson continued. Good press publicity in influential publications such
as ‘Car & Driver’ helped establishment of a small dealer network with
first cars reaching their showrooms in January. The advertising headline
proclaimed ‘The tradition is back’ and stressed the Kallista’s British
tradition, classical style and craftsmanship mated to the practicality of
modern technology and ease of service. Kallista was perceived as reaching an
exclusive sector of ‘Personal Pleasure Cars’ which with its comprehensive
standard equipment and limited availability would justify its 23,500 US $
price. Strictly as a cost comparison, for this same price cars such as Porsche
944 or Chevrolet Corvettes could be purchased at the time. A total of 79
Federal 2.3 litre Kallistas were despatched to the USA during the year (to add
to the 26 cars shipped in 1985) mainly with 4-speed manual initially and then
a number of 3-speed automatics.
Unfortunately production and deliveries stopped
in April as suddenly as they had started. A combination of factors including
slow sales, poor performance for a sportscar from the 88 bhp engine and
difficulties to meet emission regulations meant Kallista did not achieve
certification for the 1987 model year and this bold project came to a
premature halt (although to be revived briefly at a later date).
Production during the summer concentrated on
European export markets, mainly 2.8’s for Auto Becker, Germany and 1.6’s
for Lamberti in Italy with a few cars for Savoye, France and Checker Motors in
In order to stimulate new sales from a dormant UK
market, a radical new marketing Initiative launched in April saw a heavyweight
advertising campaign initiated to promote a special edition 2.8 Kallista at
under £10,000. Its list price of £9,850 was over 14% less than the 1985
this model in a choice of Red or Ivory coachwork with matching soft top was
sold In preference to 1.6’s or 2.8i’s. Over £100,000 was spent on TV
initially, then national weekly and Sunday press and a few car magazines from
April to September to generate 58 firm orders during the year with the
persuasive messages ‘your own Panther at £9,975 on the road’ and ‘the
most affordable ne~ 2.8 available in the UK’. By the end of the year, UK
registrations reached 67 cars from a total of 200 Kallistas delivered
The similarity in style of the ‘cat’ logos
led Panther and Slazenger (manufacturer of tennis rackets and balls) to embark
on a major joint sales promotion. Central to this were incentive competitions
targetted at both Slazenger’s trade and retail customers with a Kallista as
first prize in each category. Retail customers had to guess how many tennis
balls filled an open-top Kallista.
A final ‘year end’ bonus for Kallista came at
October’s NEC International
Motor Show when for the second time (previously
in 1984) the car won an IBCAM
First Prize Award in the International Coachwork
An important Press Release gave the news of a
major change in the ownership of the Panther Car Company which took place in
“The Ssangyong Group of
Companies from South Korea has become the major shareholder in the Panther Car
Company Ltd, the Weybridge, Surrey, sportscar manufacturer, by acquiring 80
per cent of the equity from Jindo Industries, another large South Korean
Mr Young C Kim continues as
Chairman of the Panther Car Company and retains his personal 20 per cent
Ssangyong is the sixth largest
conglomerate in Korea, with major interests in automobile manufacturing,
diesel engine manufacturing, oil refining, cement manufacturing, construction,
paper mills, insurance and securities. It was ranked as the 15 1st largest
corporation outside the USA by Fortune magazine in August 1987, with a
turnover of US $
billion in 1986.
Ssangyong entered the automobile
industry in 1986 when it acquired Dong-A Motor Company, one of Korea’s four
major automobile manufacturers. Dong-A specialises in the production of a
jeep-type vehicle, four-wheel-drive vehicles, buses, heavy-duty trucks and
other utility vehicles.
Ssangyong’s involvement in the
Panther Car Company will enhance and expedite the future growth and
development of the Company.”
For the Panther Car Company, the year was
dominated by the development of the first Solo II prototype which was launched
at September’s Frankfurt Show and then at London Motorfair one month later.
Consequently a high proportion of company resources were dedicated to this
Kallista entered 1987 with a modest forward order
book and the year’s demand stabilized into a healthy balance between the
requirements of UK versus overseas markets. In fact this situation would
continue right through the remaining years of Kallista build in the UK.
Of 211 Kallistas delivered by Sales Department
during the year, the UK
(including personal export) took 113 cars and
direct export took 98 (including
13 for PCCNA). The SMMT actually recorded UK
registrations of 86 cars for the year.
Apart from the 13 2.3 litre Federal cars (newly
re-certified for the US 1988 model year), the 2.8 and 2.81 accounted for 163
units with only 35 1.6’s built mainly for Italy and Jordan (which had
taxation advantages for the lower capacity model).
Two price rises in. the
UK of 5.4% (in June) and then 6.4% (in October) brought the re-introduced 1.6
to £10,450 and the 2.8 to £11,250. UK sales were generated gradually
throughout the year by a more modest advertising campaign (compared to 1986)
in a wide selection of mainly automotive publications.
According to the published October 1987 price
list the 2.8i model had been or would shortly be superseded by the 2.9i. This
was however not to be the case, and although only a few 2.8i’s were
delivered in 1988 it was not until 1989 that the 2.9i Kallista variant was
interesting Special Edition of Kallista was premiered at the London Business
Design Centre in February. The model was called ‘Brooklands’ to
commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the opening of the Brooklands Motor
Racing Circuit. At an Inclusive price the
‘Brooklands’ featured leather seats and steering wheel rim, stainless
steel mesh grille, and a ‘Brooklands’ motif
handpainted on the doors. Available for UK and
personal export customers approximately 25 were built during the year.
the effective ownership of The Panther Car Company Ltd having been transferred to the Ssangyong Motor Company in early 1987, another major
change occurred one year later with the relocation of the car production to a
new facility in Harlow, Essex some 30
miles north of London. The reason for the mve from Brooklands Industrial Park
was mainly because the site was required for redevelopment and PCC
a larger factory for the manufacture of both Kallista and later the new Solo.
was a transitional period in the early months of 1988 with production
to yet further delays of engine availability and homologation with the new
2.91 mdel, the ‘big—engined’ 2.8 Kallistas sold were mostly the
version (total 118) plus the final 30 ‘Federal’ 2.3’s and 91
export business dominated with 196 of the 243 recorded deliveries going
directly overseas with just 47 cars supplied to UK or personal export
customers despite only a modest price rise of 4.8% in June moving the 1.6 to a
list of £10,975 and the 2.8 to £11,825.
major export market were Germany where AutoBecker took 51 2.8’s and Italy
where Lamberti received 56 1.6’s. Other existing concessionaires in France,
Netherlands and Japan were joined by ‘newcomers’ Aurora (Taiwan), Reliable
Sports cars (Cyprus), Abdul—Hadi (Jordan) and Louis Harry (Greece) which
underlined the breadth of world interest in this unique British Sportscar.
Kallista in their various stages taking place simultaneously at Byfleet and
Harlow - especially as new production workers at Harlow had to
build the car. The first car nominally built at Harlow (actually part built in
Byfleet) came off the production line in February. Certain cars, notably the 30
units of Federal 2.3 Kallistas delivered during the year, were exclusively built
the Brooklands Industrial Park premises were finally vacated a separate Service
Centre at Canada Road was retained which today still serves as the Company’s
principle service point for Kallista — thus
retaining links with the original location of the Panther Westwinds Company —
Managing Director of the company Mr Y C Kim reduced his involvement with PCC in
early 1988 and did not transfer to the new HQ in Harlow.
spite of the company move to Harlow which necessitated the recruitment and
training of new staff there were still 220 Kallistas built during the year which
with cars (including especially ‘Federals’) brought forward from 1987 meant
that 243 units were actually delivered to customers.
The year of 1989 finally
heralded the launch of what would become the definitive variant of the UK-built
Kallistas - the 2.91 Ford V6. As the press release quoted:-
‘The eagerly -
awaited, 2.9 litre Kallista has arrived - the fastest, best equipped version of
Panther’s handsome, classically-styled two—seater yet to hit the UK market.
With a 15 bhp and 12 lb/ft advantage over its 2.8 litre carburetted predecessor,
the fuel—injected 2.9 litre model boasts a marked performance gain over the
version it replaces — also, notably superior driveability, thanks to improved
torque even at low rpm.
2.9 was introduced to the UK market at a price of £13,875 compared to £11,950
for the continuing 1.6 litre and £11,825 for the superceded 2.8. Importantly
both the 2.9 and the 1.6 were fitted with the full length wood veneer fascia
(originally conceived for use in the earlier US ‘Federal’ Kallistas). The
first 5 2.9’s were delivered to UK customers in late February of
the first full year of Kallista production at Harlow, 210 cars were built and
201 cars delivered by sales department during the year, both figures down on the
previous year. The breakdown of Kallistas delivered by model/engine type were 1
x 1.3, 68 x 1.6, 2 x 2.3, 79 x 2.8 and 51 x 2.9’s.
spite of a number of new concessionaires signing up the previous year, it was
the 3 traditional major markets of UK, Germany and Italy which together took an
80% lion’s share of Kallistas. Whilst most of the UK customers were switching
AutoBecker Germany’s 55 cars were mainly 2.8’s, and for Italy, exports of 40
lower—tax 1.6’s were disrupted during the summer by a concessionaire change
from the Naples based Lamberti company to the Milan based Panther Italy. The
year’s only potential new concessionaire was in Australia, where the
Lamborghini importer took delivery of a single 2.9i for homologation testing.
advantage of the opportunity created by the introduction of a new model, PR
agents Gordon Bruce Associates commissioned 2 major photoshoots in the early
part of the year. These photos, including memorable classic shots at Audley End
stately home, together with text were widely published in the press media. This
PR publicity coupled with a wide range or motoring press ads (including 1/2 page
colour in the prestigious ‘Car’ magazine) helped boost UK sales especially
in the first months of the year. However sales did show in the second half of
the year coincident with a further July price rise to £14,825 for the 2.91 and
£13,300 for the 1.6.
As was only to be expected, the appearance of
Kallista at October’s Earls Court Motorfair was completely overshadowed by the
unveiling of the definitive model Solo - expected to be available early in 1990. Certainly
the design of the showstand was committed to promoting Solo as the advanced,
high-performance newcomer and kallista had to take a back seat.
Development of the catalysed version of the 2.9i
continued throughout the year with a new engineering prototype car completed in
June. A small number of production 2.9 ‘cats’ were built for Germany and
Japan, in readiness for 1990 when these and other continental countries could
only import the ‘green' Kallista.
year of 1990 would mark the end of Kallista production at The Panther Car
Company, Harlow in a traumatic year which also witnessed the final production of
just 12 RHD Solos for the UK market.
year started positive1y for Kallista with the catalyst version of the 2.9i model
fully sorted and available to satisfy the new emission requirements of export
markets. The catalyst Kallista however did take longer to build and the early
problems were a lack of production volume set against very positive sales
enquiries. New concessionaires Panther Italia were looking for a healthy supply
of cars to satisfy their newly appointed dealers and Watesa in Spain were
positive about the potential for Kallista in this new market. Watesa promoted
the Kallista at a Madrid Auto Show and this retro—styled sportscar drew praise
from admirers of the car at April’s Turin International Show (where Panther
enjoyed a show stand next to Lamborghini!).
situation at Panther Car Company became critical as Solo was proving technically
very difficult and slow to build. Cost analysis indicated that Kallista as a
project was barely profitable and the hard decision was taken to end production
upon completion of confirmed orders —
order to concentrate all resources on Solo. The sad news was announced to staff
on Monday May 21st with some immediate redundancies -
the story made national paper and TV news coverage shortly afterwards.
who had made firm orders for cars were guaranteed supply but it was nevertheless
a shock to major markets such as West Germany and new countries Italy, Spain and
Australia who had invested heavily in the launch and distribution of Kallista.
continued with most of the final deliveries in September, with the 1990 total of
108 cars of which 80 were 2.91 V6’s with just 28 1.6’s. Most of the 1.6’s
were despatched to Italy who took 23 units followed by Germany (18 2.9’s) and
Spain (16 2.9’s). With limited advertising and press release promotion, UK
market interest in Kallista slumped to only 19 cars sold during the year, a
situation also caused by general economic factors and a recession in the new car
September just two more Kallistas were completed. The first was a fully equipped
2.9i catalyst destined for the President of Ssangyong in Korea. The 2nd and
final car was originally destined for Jordan, but as a result of the Gulf crisis
was transferred to Checker Motors in Japan. As this occurred at a late stage,
production of this last car was transferred to Canada Road, Byfleet - the spiritual home of Ka11ista.
is to be hoped that such a unique and interesting car as Kallista will survive
and it is heartening to know that Ssangyong Motor Company -in Korea have the
firm intention to carry on production in Korea. As the body/chassis units for
Kallista have always been built in Korea it was a logical extension to transfer
Kallista production technology know—how and some parts to the parent company.
Panther car Company in the UK remains to assist this project with UK sourced
parts supply and engineering development work concentrating on the homologation
of Ford’s latest 2.0 litre 4 and 2.9 V6 engines.
as the Kallista itself was a reincarnation of Panther Westwind’s 1970’s
Lima, then a new Ssangyong Kallista can be born in the 1990’s. The Panther