Sunday, 11 May 2014

REVIEW: Scaleauto DeTomaso Pantera

Scaleauto DeTomaso Pantera Gr.3
SC-6034 - LeMans 24h 1976 #82 or LeMans 24h 1974 #52

"The word Pantera is Italian for Panther. Notably, Elvis Presley once fired a gun at his Pantera after it would not start." - Wikipedia


This history from Wikipedia: 'The Pantera was a sports car produced by the De Tomaso car company of Italy from 1971 to 1991, the last one being delivered to a customer in 1992.

The car was designed by American designer Tom Tjaarda and replaced the De Tomaso Mangusta. Unlike the Mangusta, which employed a steel backbone chassis, the Pantera was a steel monocoque design, the first instance of De Tomaso using this construction technique. The Pantera logo included a version of Argentina's flag turned on its side with a T-shaped symbol that was the brand used by De Tomaso's Argentinian cattle ranching ancestors.

The car made its public debut in Modena in March 1970 and was presented at the 1970 New York Motor Show a few weeks later.  Approximately a year after that production Panteras started finding their way into the hands of customers and production had already been ramped up to a remarkable (by the standards of Modena-built exotica) 3 per day.'

'The first 1971 Panteras were powered by a Ford 351 cu in (5.8 L) V8 engine that produced a severely underrated 330 hp (246 kW; 335 PS). Stock dynos over the years proved that power was more along the lines of about 380 hp (283 kW; 385 PS). The high torque provided by the Ford engine reduced the need for excessive gear changing at low speeds: this made the car much less demanding to drive in urban conditions than many of the locally built competitor products.

The ZF transaxle used in the Mangusta was also used for the Pantera: a passenger in an early Pantera recorded that the mechanical noises emanating from the transaxle were more intrusive than the well restrained engine noise. Another Italian exotic that shares the ZF transaxle is the Maserati Bora, also launched in 1971 though not yet available for sale. Power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack and pinion steering were all standard equipment on the Pantera. The 1971 Pantera could accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds according to Car and Driver.'

The above photo is copyright and taken from Racing Sports Cars' 1976 Le Mans page.

The above 'Wicky Racing Team' #82 Pantera (powered by a Ford V8 OHV 5769cc) ran at Le Mans but failed to start the race after qualifying 53rd on the grid.   The below high resolution YouTube video shows some beautiful Panters at Spa Francorchamps last year, plenty of Group 3 cars too.



This is the first Pantera to be released by Scaleauto and it has been released with the option of 2 separate liveries, both of yellow cars.  Alternatively you could opt to keep the car as a street machine which I almost did as it looks so damn good.  The first livery choice is the #82 car that ran at Le Mans in 1976 and the second car (#52) also ran at  Le Mans but in 1974.  In the end I opted to decal my car as the #82 car as the livery is cleaner in my opinion.

Once you have applied your preferred decals, you may wish to remove the internals/windows and apply a seal to protect them if you intend to race your Pantera.  One thing I will say here is that my Pantera did not come with a decal placement sheet or instructions.  No biggie normally but for the life of me, I could not find a photo of the rear of the #52 or #82 car.  I improvised and placed all remaining #82 decals (6 in total) in the most likely places.

Unlike a lot of other manufactures, Scaleauto develops their own bespoke slot car packaging.  As you can see from the below photo, the packaging not to dissimilar to most slot car packaging.  This is however the second iteration of Scaleauto packaging and they have been listening to the slot car community.  The original packaging worked ok but had some annoying elements which have been corrected with this update - good work Scaleauto.  

The new packaging is a little bit smaller and more robust which you will be happy to hear.  As you would expect, Scaleauto boxes can be easily stacked if you're lucky enough to have several in your collection.

The car is secured in place via 2 screws through the base and into the chassis ensuring the slot will not come away from the base during transit or handling.  If you've ever experienced what I term a 'slot car milkshake', (where a slot comes away from its base during transit) you'll appreciate these screws which are pretty standard with most manufactures.

The clear lid is secured to the base via a snug fit to the base and 2 Scaleauto "Original Product" branded stickers.  A nice feature for collectors which indicate if the box has ever been opened.  One thing I'm very happy that Scaleauto kept from the older packaging is the raised platform in the centre of the base which keeps the slot's rubber from touching the packaging.


The following Pantera specifications are from the Scaleauto site:
  • RT3 Chassis (medium wheel base)
  • Motor mount: Side-winder
  • Motor: SC-08b Short-Can (20K)
  • Pinion/Gear ratio: 12/32 (aluminium and nylon)
  • Floating motor-pod (4 point adjustment)
  • Front Rims: 18x9mm plastic hub
  • Rear Rims: 19x10.5mm aluminium hub
  • Height adjustable front axle 
  • Bar magnet fitted (above rear axle)
The RT3 chassis fitted to the Pantera, (in medium wheel base configuration) comes with numerous upgrade options such as lightweight interiors and sponge wheels.  You can find more details about these upgrade options on the Scaleauto web site here.


Let’s face it, we will never have enough funds to buy all the slot cars we would like and unfortunately there are times we are forced to let one slip through the collection. So I thought I'd add a new section to my reviews regarding the value the slot car represents as a way of helping with the dilemma of, ‘Should I really get this slot?’

From a straight comparison perspective, Scaleauto slots are a little more expensive than your average slot release, say a Scalextric, Flyslot,, SRC or a standard Ninco but they are cheaper than Black Arrow, NSR or Le Mans Miniatures.  Scaleauto are more comparable with a 'Lightening' Ninco, MR Slotcar or Cartrix and when compared with these manufactures, Scaleauto represents fair enough value for your slotting dollar.

 While not the cheapest slot car on the market, they are far from the most expensive and as you can see from the above and below photos, Scaleauto engineering is very impressive.  Another thing worth taking into account is the highly desirable models Scaleauto has been clever enough to release; Zonda, HSV, BMW Z4, Spyker, DeTomaso - epic slot cars you just NEED in your collection. 


The finish levels on the Pantera are very high, paint finish and level of detail such as rear exhausts, spot lights, wheels and cabin is excellent making for a highly realistic looking slot car on the track.

Once applied, decal lettering is of a high standard and accurate with all but a few small decals not present.  Judging from the above photos of the actual #82 Pantera, some minor sponsorship is missing from below the door handles for example.  Something I'm sure we can all live with, one thing I would have seen is the front lower spoiler painted black as in the top 'Racing Sports Cars' photo from Le Mans 1976.

In terms of capturing the Pantera's overall shape and body detail, Scaleauto have done a great job here, the rear-end detail is fantastic and the twin-twin exhausts look awesome.  Scaleauto have capturing the rear bumpers, lights and grilling between the exhausts which is actually a fine black meshing.

When compared closely to the 1:1 race car, proportions and body shape look spot on in my eyes, there is no doubt what I'm racing here.

Side rear vision mirror do protrude from the slot 1-3mm and are made from hard plastic making them susceptible to damage in crashes.  There is nothing worse than loosing a rear view mirror on the first running of your new slot and unfortunately this happened within 10 minutes of racing.  A small touch of super glue and all was fixed but these mirrors really should be rubber, even if we are forced to loose a little detail in shape and colour.

While discussing the rear view mirrors it worth pointing out that Scaleauto have accurately captured the fact that this car raced with 2 different mirrors (you can clearly see it in the 'History' section actual car photos).  It's this kind of detail I love a manufacture picking up on and going to the trouble to bring to us.  Now if I can just find out why the car was raced with different mirrors... :)

Front end detail is high including two grills (this is a fine black mesh), intakes (in front of windscreen)  and lower bumper lights, twin wipers and front bumpers.  One thing I would like to see in an upcoming release would be driving pop-up lights on or up perhaps.  Side detail such as door handles, indicators and engine cooling intakes behind side windows are present although the refuelling port is missing.

Wheel detail and colour look close enough to the 1:1 car although I'm not a huge fan of the Pantera wheels, I kept fighting the urge to upgrade these rather 'dull' looking wheels with something more aggressive.  Regardless of my own personal taste, Scaleauto have done a great job in capturing the 1:1 car's wheel design.
  Driver and internal detail (dash, roll-bars, steering wheel, fire extinguisher, etc.) are all present as you would expect, I'm particularly impressed with the effort Scaleauto has put into making this interior light-weight.  As with some other high-end manufactures, the bottom half of the driver figure is actually hollow reducing weight, (see below photo).  A light weight interior is also available if you wish to reduce weight and COG even more.  The driver's helmet is plain red though this isn't a big issue for me when it comes to roofed cars.

All in all, the Scalauto Pantera is a very well presented slot car, you wont be disappointed with it in the detail and accuracy department.


Starting from the front, the first thing you'll notice is the red guide which is sprung.  The guide is 7mm deep which works well on my Carrera plastic track and the front guide moves very freely allowing the slot to corner well.  From an aesthetic perspective, the guide is set at a good height but unfortunately the rear magnet tend to make the slot sit up a few millimetres at the front.  If you're going to be racing your Pantera non-magnetic then this isn't an issue.  For me a little weight was required up front to contract the magnetic lift as there is only one place for the bar magnet.

The RT3 chassis does allow you to swap this bar magnet for a smaller button magnet approximately half way along the chassis and this also corrects the slight frontal lift.

Worth noting is still how difficult the guide is to actually remove from the chassis - almost impossible and I strongly recommend you remove the body before trying as you may do some damage to the finer body detail.  Although the guide is difficult to remove, it rotates freely in the chassis and returns to a central position well.

The front axle is height adjustable via 2 small Allen screws which are accessible from underneath the chassis, a small thing but this means you don't have to remove the body to adjust the ride height.  The front wheels sit nicely on the track, turning as the slot moves and there is plenty of vertical play in the front axle so that the front wheels don't interrupt the front guide causing potential deslotting.

The Pantera RT3 chassis comes setup standard in a side-winder motor pod configuration with Scaleauto's SC-08b 'short-can' 20rpm motor, call me old school but I prefer this configuration.  The standard motor is strong enough without being ridiculous for home track purposes.  I had read that Scaleauto slot cars were not really suited to home track racing as they were just too powerful, I'm happy to report that this is not the case and the Pantera behaves perfectly and is well suited to my home track. 

The Pantera runs briskly down the longer straights of my track while not being too difficult to control through the more technical sections of my layout.  My track has a good balance of technical elements like reverse curves while still having several long straights up to 4.5 metres allowing slots to stretch their legs.

My only comment would be that in standard setup, the Pantera is too 'stuck down' to the track due to the efficient bar magnet.  This results in the car being very fast but perhaps a little boring to drive.  Removing or replacing the bar magnet with a smaller button magnet reduces lap times overall but results in a slot car that is far more enjoyable to drive on the track.  It's your choice, speed vs. driving experience.

For more specific information on the track used in this review please have a look at my track layout here.  

In terms of gearing, the pinion is 12 tooth and the spur gear is 32 tooth.  The short-can motor is well housed (fixed with a pair of small screws) in the motor pod resulting in zero motor rotation under power, very nice engineering.

The weight distribution of the slot is impressive, the upper body is light and although there are lighter offering out there, but probably not with this much detail and accuracy unless it's a or NSR offering.   It is only when you remove the body from the chassis that you realise just how light this body is (17.8 grams) and that means low centre of gravity (75% of the slot's weight being in the chassis) and that's a good thing.

The entire slots weight (chassis + body) is 73.8 grams - by way of comparison, a Porsche 956C weighs 78.7 grams.

The body is held on with 2 long screws, an interesting feature of all Scaleauto bodies is that there are 2 brass knobs (see below photo) attached to the ends of the body mounting posts.  These brass knows allow the body to freely pivot on the chassis, plastic tends to stick to other plastic preventing free movement so Scaleauto have addressed this issue in a clever way.

I loosened the pivoting chassis screws a few turns and the floating chassis works beautifully and pivots freely.  In terms of the body mounting posts, the good news is that they are long, meaning that the brass knobs (and weight) are low down in the slot's COG.  So also loosen the body screws a half turn allowing even a greater degree of body roll.
  The shipped rear rubber is soft enough and gives a good level of grip on my Carrera plastic track surface.  If you're intending on casually racing then you'll be happy with this standard rubber.  However, if you want the best performance possible then you'll want to upgrade.

So enough talk, how does the Pantera RT3 chassis perform on the track?  Well I'm more than happy to report that the Pantera runs like a guided missile straight from the box!  As I have previously stated, the short-can 20K rpm motor is a solid performer, quick and brisk with proven gearing ratios.

I quickly clocked up a few hundred laps with the Pantera and unlike a few Scaleauto slot car I own, noise levels are good straight from the box.

The rear axle comes complete with brass spacers which is a nice touch but means adjusting wheel spacing can only be achieve with additional spacers.  My Pantera rear end had approximately 2mm of lateral movement which I adjusted out with a few additional spacers.

While removing the bar magnet I noticed that the rear axle is so close to the motor that it is almost touching the motor wrapper.  This is always worth checking on RT3 chassis and can be addressed by removing the motor wrapper if its problem.

While we are talking about the motor, it's worth pointing out that the non pinion end of the drive shaft protrudes (see below photo) approximately 10mm.  The existing wheel/rubber combination does not make this a problem but if you were to change the rims or rubber this might cause you an issue, trimming the shaft would solve this quickly.

The guide has 150-160 degree of rotation and as previously mentioned, the Pantera comes standard with a sprung guide.  Also as previously mentioned, the Pantera is a rocket ship straight from the box, lap time were consistently in the sub 6 second range, best lap time was 5.96 seconds. This makes the Pantera faster than Ninco Mercedes SLS AMG 'Lighting' and's new Porsche 911 GT1 which is bloody impressive!

Any car that can run in the sub 6 second range is damn quick on my layout.   With more laps I'm confident that these lap times will drop.  For a more detailed lap time comparison, have a quick look at the 'lap times' page here.

Removing the magnet is not the quickest operation, you have to remove the body followed by removing the rear axle, the motor and finally 2 Allen screws that hold the magnet in position.  The bar magnet has only 1 position, I would like to see the inclusion of a 2nd position (perhaps where the button mag position is) for magnetic adjustment as a button magnet does not come standard with the RT3 chassis.

In terms on non-magnetic performance, this slot is smooth on the track but will require a rubber upgrade.  This is where the motor's drive shaft extending so far from the end-ball can become an issue - check for this.

So does ManicSlots recommend Scaleauto's Pantera?   Without hesitation, this is an unique and impressive slot car that has been missing as an option for slot car enthusiasts.  regardless of if you're after an on-track rocket ship or a shelf queen, this offering from Scaleauto will have you very pleased.

I started this review laughing at how Elvis Presley once fired a gun at his Pantera after it would not start.  I put it to you that this would never have happen if Elvis had been into slot cars and own a Scaleauto Pantera!

I also really like that Scaleauto gives us the option of which livery we would like to run, (including street car) I found putting the finishing decal touches on my Pantera enjoyable and it had me researching the 1:1 race car on the net.  Great work Scaleauto and I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the future Pantera releases.


  • Sex Appeal: 6th gear
  • Collectability: 5th gear
  • Build Quality: 6th gear
  • Attention to Detail: 6th gear
  • 'RTR' Performance: 7th gear
Overall Manic Slot Score: 6.0 Gears.

For more photos of Scaleauto's DeTomaso Pantera, head over to the Scaleauto website by clicking the below link.

Scaleauto Slot Cars
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