Ford’s new massive 7.3-liter V8 is going to be a slow-revving but durable engine for large pickups, but recently we’ve been alerted to its capacity for modification and rather outlandish performance. If there’s a destination for a motor like that, it’s the De Tomaso Pantera. Trust me.
But first, the engine. Earlier this week, our buddy Rob Sorokanich at Road & Track outlined the modification potential for Ford’s new monster motor. Apparently, though the new engine is only good for about 430 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque from the factory, basic mods can bring power up to 600 hp.
What’s really exciting, though, is the packaging of this new motor. Despite that massive displacement, the Godzilla is around the same size as a 351 Windsor V8 and actually a little smaller than the five-liter Coyote that Ford currently fits to F-150s and Mustangs. Our friend and Jalopnik contributor Bozi Tatrevic has actually shown just how similar many of the components of this motor are to those fitted to Chevy’s LS family of V8s as well as the potential for the Godzilla to fit into a Fox-body Mustang, which is a good indicator of just how flexible this motor could be when it comes to swaps.
Now, there is one issue here. This engine is hefty. It’s a lot heavier than an LS, a Coyote, or a Cleveland. For most swap candidates, that’s an issue. If you stick one of these in a Fox-body, you’re going to throw off the weight distribution and build something totally undrivable. But that’s where the Pantera comes in.
Unlike most swap candidates, the engine in a Pantera sits between the axles. We already know that it can handle a few different V8s that are similar in size and packaging to the 7.3-liter Godzilla, and in the Pantera, the weight-distribution problem would be largely settled, even if the rest of the driving experience remained rather... difficult.
If you’re worried that the power that this new motor would drop into the Pantera might ruin how it drives, don’t. The car was always incredibly difficult to handle. Just ask our friend Alex Goy. All this swap will do is make an already fascinating example of Italian-American cooperation even more interesting, even if it won’t make the car any easier to drive.
But there’s more than just driving performance that leads people to put engine swap projects together. There’s the thought of imagining what could have been. The Pantera was always sold with Ford engines like the 351 Windsor. In America, if you wanted a De Tomaso, you had to go to your local Lincoln-Mercury dealer to pick one up. And when it comes to swaps, I’m always a sucker for continuity.
It seems weird to me to stick a Chevy or Dodge V8 in a car that’s always had a Ford motor in it, so why not keep that going and stick one of these in a Pantera?