Panther Westwinds was a car manufacturer set up by a fashion designer called Robert Jankel who rebuilt cars as a hobby. One of these was a 1930s Rolls-Royce and in 1970 he took this off to Spain where a bullfighter, no less, offered him £10,000 for it! He came home without the car but £10,000 richer and decided to go into making cars which, although constructed with modern materials to modern standards, resembled those of old.
What to call the company? The name 'Jaguar' had already been taken but 'Panther' had not. The family home was called Westwinds and so 'Panther Westwinds' became the name of his business.
Several different vehicles were produced but the most successful one was the Lima which first saw the light of day in 1976. This was an open top two seater sports cabriolet with two doors and it looked like a British racing car from the 1930s. It was in fact quite a fast machine and it would not necessarily have been out of place on a racetrack!
Parts for it were sourced from Vauxhall, including bits of the Viva and the Magnum; the engine was a 2.3 litre straight four cylinder Vauxhall Magnum unit producing 109 brake horsepower and giving a maximum speed of 112 with nought to 60 within 7.6 seconds. The body was made out of lightweight fibreglass. Many considered it to look like a cross between a Bugatti a Morgan and an Allard.
In 1979 a turbo version came out which led to a power increase to 178 horsepower.
Altogether around a thousand of the Limas were built but despite this success Jankel's company went bankrupt in 1982. A Korean businessman bought it out of receivership but his company also went bust in 1990 and sadly the Panther name disappeared.
Although these cars are fairly rare and do not come up for sale very often the few that have been auctioned have sold for remarkably low prices so anyone looking for a car that is definitely different but who has fairly shallow pockets may consider bidding the next time one of them comes up on the block!
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