Monday 22nd July 2019,

Panther de Ville 1974-1985: The Car From 101 Dalmatians Movie

Two years after the sublime Panther J72 impressed the motoring world the Panther de Ville burst onto the world stage. Panther Cars had gone overboard this time! Clearly designed to appeal to celebrities, eccentrics and Al Capone impersonators, the Panther de Ville was styled after the Bugatti Royale and the Duesenberg, though not nearly as impressive to behold.

The Royale was a true monster, whereas the Panther de Ville was quite a bit smaller. Elton John bought one, as did a lot of `nouveau-riche` clients who wanted to be noticed. `Ostentatious`, was a fair description of the de Ville. For several years the car was the most expensive production car on sale in the UK, eclipsing Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Ferrari.

The styling incorporated running-boards, huge chrome headlamps and a Bugatti-shaped radiator-grille. Two body-styles were initially offered, a four-door saloon and a two-door convertible. However, some cars were `built to order` giving rise to a few two-door coupes and a six-door limousine! The most famous example was exported to Hollywood, customised and fitted with a Chevrolet V8 and supplied to Cruella de Vil in the movie `101 Dalmatians`.

Portrayed by Glenn Close, she trundled all over the country kidnapping spotty dogs, 101 of them to be exact. Cruella was an `over-the-top` kind of lady and the Panther was a perfect Dalmatian-collector! She probably managed to wedge all 101 puppies into the rear cabin! Anything the client desired could be built into the car. Cocktail cabinets and televisions were `de rigeur`, plus anything else the client could think of, with the exception of Thompson guns! Such was the level of customising that it is unlikely that any two Panther de Villes were identical.

Body and Chassis:

The car was built on a steel space-frame with Jaguar XJ sub-frames front and rear. The running-gear was, therefore, all Jaguar. Fully independent suspension was employed, coil and wish-bone at the front and de Dion with coil-springs and radius-arms at the rear. Salisbury differential completed the ensemble. Servo-assisted disc brakes were fitted on all four corners. Power steering was standard equipment, as were chrome wire-wheels. The body was hand-crafted from aluminium-alloy and the interior was upholstered with Connolly hide. The Panther de Ville`s cabin was the most sumptuous that could be provided. The driver`s position was quite modern with every up-to-date feature imaginable. The de Ville tried hard to be the ultimate luxury car, perhaps Panther achieved their ambition.

Engine and Transmission:

Two engine options were offered. We have listed the specs on the next tab but here is a brief synopsis.

Option 1 was the Jaguar XK 4.2 litre twin-overhead camshaft engine, producing 190 bhp and 200ft/lbs of torque. This combination propelled the Panther de Ville to a top speed of 115 mph with a 0-60 time of 7 seconds (very optimistic). 3-speed automatic transmission was standard on both variants. In 1977 a 4-speed automatic became available.

Option 2 was the mighty 5.3 litre V12 Jaguar unit with an optional Lucas fuel-injection system. The V12 produced 285 bhp and 294 ft/lbs of torque. Top speed was listed at 150 mph and the 0-60 time was 6.4 seconds.

The top speeds are questionable considering the lack of streamlining. It is apparent to anyone that the Panther de Ville has the aerodynamics of a concrete block! This was definitely no sports-car.

The Panther de Ville had a 23 Imperial gallons fuel tank and consumed petrol at the rate of 1 gallon (4.54 litres) for every 13 miles covered! Horrifying figures for the 21st century, however, owners of a de Ville rarely worry about the consumption. The de Ville went out of production in 1985 after 46 saloons, 11 convertibles, 2 coupes and 1 six-door limousine were built. This breakdown of production figures is not totally reliable due to the lack of hard data. However, we are confident that the total of 60 cars is accurate enough to convey the rarity of this very eccentric British luxury classic car.

As a foot-note, it is worth pointing out that whereas the Panther de Ville was not an original concept it was a lot more drivable than the 1930`s cars it imitated. At only 1982 kg (!) it went very well and, unlike the Bugatti and the Deusenberg, it would stop just as well. Power-steering was also welcome.

I hesitate to suggest that it is `usable transport` day to day, but once given the road-space it could be a lot of fun. However, you would have to be very careful where you parked it because when you returned to the car a lot of it would be missing! The solution would be to leave your chauffeur to guard it. A wonderfully eccentric luxury carriage, it could only be British. Thank you Panther!

Panther De Ville 1974-1985 Specs
Body Type5 seater 4 door saloon
2 door DHC/FHC
6 door limousine
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Cargo VolumeRoom for 101 Dalmatians
Engine4.2 Jaguar XK 12V DOHC Hemi
Cylindersstraight 6
Displacement69399 cc4235 cui
Power142 Kw190 bhp5000 RPM
Torque271 Nm200 ft. lb2000 RPM
Power/weight96 bhp/t
Top Speed185 km/h115 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph7 s(optimistic)
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox3 speed automatic (1974-1976)4 speed automatic (1977-1985)
Weight1982 kg4370 lb
Engine5.3 Jaguar SOHC 24V
Displacement87572 cc5344 cui
Power213 Kw285 bhp5800 RPM
Torque399 Nm294 ft. lb3500 RPM
Power/weight144 bhp/t
Top Speed241 km/h150 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph6.4 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox3 speed automatic (1974-1976)4 speed automatic (1977-1985)
Weight1982 kg4370 lb
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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

1 Comment

  1. xe 2. April 2015 at 20:34

    Interesting reading, indeed.

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