Before the reborn De Tomaso brand gets to present its first car, Ares shows up at Lake Como with a Pantera for the 21st century

Remember the Ares Panther? It’s the modern-day De Tomaso Pantera that arrived at our doorstep before the De Tomaso brand itself could scramble back into existence, and it made a surprise appearance at the 2019 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este near Lake Como, in Italy. The Panther is a Huracan under the skin, but that skin is all that matters because, well, point me to another car from 2019 with pop-up headlights. I’ll wait.

We all like restomods which is, broadly, the art of reviving an old car by infusing just the right amount of modern tech to make it relevant in today’s world while also not diluting its spirit too much in the process. Singer has done it beautifully, crafting some rolling works of art and that’s just one example. We’ve actually compiled a list of some of the best restomodded cars out there but, before you check that out, take a look at the Ares Panther, a different take on the concept of restomodding. Instead of taking an old chassis and body and upgrading it to make it handle like new while still looking unapologetically old, Ares decided to refresh a classic design and use some modern underpinnings to make sure they end up with a sound car that goes as fast as it looks.

The 2019 Ares Panther makes us dream of pop-up headlights, although we shouldn’t

The 2019 Ares Panther Rolls Up At The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
- image 841769

The Ares Panther ProgettoUno is the first truly outlandish product of Ares Design, a Modena-based coachbuilder who started as an over-the-top tuner that would take in people’s ultra-expensive cars and make’em unique. As the years rolled by, company founder Dany Bahar set his sights on the lofty goal of creating his car, one that’d pay tribute to the Tom Tjaarda-penned Pantera. It was named ’ProgettoUno’ as Ares followed it up with ProgettoDue, known as Wami, which is a Cobra-esque retro roadster, ProgettoSei, a GTC4Lusso-based modernized Ferrari 412, and, finally, a 250 GTO for the 2019 millionaire based on the underpinnings of either the F12 or the insane 812 Superfast.

The 2019 Ares Panther Rolls Up At The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
- image 841771

We first wrote about ProgettoUno, or Project Panther, last year when the company was out road testing mules of the Panther. If you missed that story, you might be wondering what’s up with this company that seems to be putting out forcefully modernized classics at machine-gun pace. Well, as mentioned, it’s the brainchild of former Lotus CEO Dany Bahar who was sacked from the company in 2012 after three years at its helm. Bahar was ousted after misconduct allegations began circulating around that time. He’d previously worked at Ferrari.

In spite of his past affiliations and his somewhat controversial image, Bahar has maintained over the development period of Project Panther that everything is as legitimate as it gets. He described the Panther as a “perfect blend of old school charm and charisma,” the defining mix that will be at the base of every Ares model part of its “Legends Reborn” program that includes the models I’ve talked about before.

We knew since it all began that Ares intended to use Lamborghini Huracan underpinnings but what we didn’t know at first is that the car would produce more horsepower than its sibling from Sant’Agata Bolognese. If a run-of-the-mill Huracan cranks out 610 ponies at 8,250 rpm, the Panther is said to make 641 horsepower while torque should also go up - from 413 pound-feet at 6,500 rpm to as much as 443 pound-feet.

The increase in power and torque is the result of some tweaks made to the ECU as well as a modified exhaust system.
2019 ARES PANTHER drivetrain specifications
Engine V-10
Displacement 5,204 cc
Horsepower 650 HP @ 8,250 RPM
Torque 442 LB-FT @ 6,500 RPM
0 to 62 mph 3.1 seconds
Top Speed >325 km/h (202 mph)

The seven-speed dual clutch transmission, however, is untouched and the Panther is AWD like any Huracan and not RWD like the original Pantera.

0-60 mph takes something like 3.1 or 3.2 seconds which is about 0.2 seconds off the time recorded by a Huracan Evo and about as fast as a base model Huracan.

Top speed is in the region of 201 mph, as fast as a standard Huracan. Ares also said that the Panther will benefit from quicker gear shifts and a sharper throttle response (but the internals of the 5.2-liter, naturally aspirated V-10 remain the same).

left right

Last year, Ares was saying that only 21 Panthers will be made in all with a price point of $597,374 (an Aventador costs $241,945 before you delve into the countless options available) and that all of the build slots for 2018 have been spoken for. Since then, this number has grown.

In March of 2019, when he heard from the Italian manufacturer again, Bahar hopes were clearly inflated as he hoped to sell as many as 70 units over the next five years at an also increased MSRP of $695,000.

That’s an increase of almost $100,000 which is the equivalent of one Nissan GT-R or one Jaguar F-Type R. The car didn’t get any upgrades between August of 2018 when it was said to cost just under $600,000 and March of this year (two months before the expected start of deliveries to expecting customers) when the asking price jumped up to almost $700,000. Very inexplicable.

But what do you get for a price that would put a $474,000 Ferrari 812 Superfast to shame? Well, you get all the tech wizardry embedded in the carbon-aluminum skeleton of a Huracan and extra oomph, but I’m sure you won’t be queuing for a Panther for that reason. The reason is what you can see with the naked eye - the body.

The 2019 Ares Panther Rolls Up At The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
- image 841770

it really does look like a modern Pantera but not in the way the Gandini-penned Pantera of the ’90s was a modern Pantera. What the Ares Panther is is a reimagination of the original Tjaarda design. It even has the two blacked-out slim bumpers on either side of the front fascia above the angular air vents and, on top of that, it even comes with pop-up headlights!

This is news because the last two production cars to feature pop-up headlights were the Corvette C5 and the Lotus Esprit, both of which were put to rest in 2004. That was two years after the final Pontiac Firebird rolled off the production line Sainte-Therese, Quebec. Now, I know you’re thinking that pop-up headlights died a sad death because of safety regulations and all that but, as a boutique manufacturer that only plans to build a dozen examples per year, Ares doesn’t have to worry about the toughest safety regulations that mass manufacturers have to contend with. That’s how they got away with fitting the Panther with pop-up headlights for an added dose of old-school goodness.

The 2019 Ares Panther Rolls Up At The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
- image 841773

What’s interesting is that the Panther that appeared near Villa Erba last weekend isn’t the car we saw in the unveiling pictures last year. That one had golden wheels and dark grey ’Panther’ tampoing along its sides. This one, while still cherry red, features black wheels, a total lack of a mesh grille in the middle of the rear center panel as seen on the first uncamouflaged model and, also, hood slats painted in the color of the body - and no more strakes over the very Camaro-esque quad taillights.

As you’ll hear in the video, the Panther makes the right noises and, due to the fact that all the bespoke body panels are made out of carbon fiber, the car is just as light as a Huracan weighing in at 3,137 pounds. This should mean that, if the aerodynamics aren’t messed up, the Panther should be quite fast around a track, but I guess we’ll have to wait a while before anybody is offered the chance to properly hammer on a closed-off road course.

The 2019 Ares Panther Rolls Up At The Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
- image 841772

Further reading

2019 ARES Project Panther Exterior
- image 789604

Read our full review on the 2019 ARES Project Panther.

1971 - 1991 De Tomaso Pantera Exterior
- image 672097

Read our full review on the 1971-1992 De Tomaso Pantera

2015 - 2016 Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 551757

Read our full review on the 2016 Lamborghini Huracan.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: