Lot 629: 1979 Panther De Ville Saloon
Founded by engineer Bob Jankel in 1971, Panther West Winds Limited rose to public prominence by hand building expensive, high-quality, retro-styled luxury sportscars using modern components. The firm�s first volume-selling car - the Lima - appeared in 1976, but before then the formula combining modern engineering and performance with bygone-era styling had been established by the J72, Panther�s first production model, which owed its inspiration to the SS100 Jaguar. Such was the superb quality of its construction that the J72 won the Silver Medal for coachwork at the 1973 London Motor Show, beating the likes of Rolls-Royce. Running gear was mainly Jaguar, there being a choice of XK six-cylinder or V12 engines, with automatic transmission the norm on later models. In 1974 Panther added the ultra-luxurious Jaguar XJ12-based De Ville to its range, building 46 saloons and 11 convertibles of this huge, Bugatti Royale-inspired model by the time production ceased in 1982.
Expensive and exclusive (the De Ville cost more than a contemporary Rolls-Royce) Panthers were necessarily the preserve of the wealthy few and this particular De Ville was first owned by the late Oliver Reed. One of Britain�s foremost post-war movie actors, Reed started his career as an �extra� before graduating to notable roles in a succession of Hammer horror films. His major works include Oliver!, Women in Love, The Devils, The Three Musketeers, Tommy, Castaway, Lion of the Desert and, finally, Gladiator, during the filming of which he died of a heart attack. Reed, who was as well known for his hell-raising lifestyle off screen as he was for his roles on it, ordered the Panther in 1979 and took delivery in 1980. In its 2nd January 1980 edition, the Daily Mirror featured Reed with his De Ville under the headline: �Big, extravagant and drinks like a fish (and that�s only the car)� which presumably explains why he employed a chauffeur.
The vendor, a many-times Panther owner, acquired the ex-Reed car circa 2003/2004 and has returned it to proper working order. He has replaced the original Morris Minor rear lights, had some of the brightwork re-plated, added the high-level brake light and fabricated the special quarter-bumpers. Although repainted, the car is finished in the original colour scheme and retains bespoke features such as the gun cupboard beneath the rear seat and refrigerator in the trunk area, while the faux radiator cap is engraved with Oliver Reed�s rank and army number. The vehicle is described as in very good condition throughout, although we are advised that the air conditioning and refrigerator are not working. Featured in the July 2007 edition of Jaguar Enthusiast magazine, it has covered only 36,342 miles from new (as verified by accompanying expired MoTs) and comes with copy JE article, current road fund licence, Swansea V5 registration document and MoT to April 2008.
Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles|
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
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|Registration number||VGR 727|
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