In part 4 in our classic car anniversary celebration, we’re looking at classics from the 1970s and their impact on motoring, style and popular culture. More specifically, classics turning 50 years old in 2022 – and boy are there a lot of them!
Panther J72 – 50th birthday
Suggested by Ray Bridges
Val Bridges, chairman of the Panther Car Club, kindly provided us with some background on these remarkable cars and the marque itself.
The Panther Westwinds car company was founded in 1972 and produced unusual and exotic cars, often pastiches of older models. Their first model was the J72 (conveniently named after its year of production), created in the style of the Jaguar SS100. Other models Panther produced in the 1970s include the Rio, based on a Triumph Dolomite, and the Lima.
Panther founder Bob Jankel had a family background in the fashion industry, but had previously studied engineering and was inspired to set up the Panther Westwinds company after a bullfighter in Spain offered him £10,000 for a Rolls-Royce he had rebuilt.
The design of the J72 was closely based on the pre-war Jaguar SS 100. The modern Jaguar engines available for the J72 required more cooling air than the SS 100 engines, so Panther installed additional air intakes above the bumper and on the side of the hood.
The luxury roadster appealed to a celebrity clientele, who favoured its exclusivity and looks. Only 368 units were produced, making the Panther J72 one of the rarest classics still in existence today.