Panther J72 SS100 Replica
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
These days we are somewhat accustomed to seeing modern interpretations of models long gone, such as the new Mini, Beetle and even the iconic Ford Mustang. Wind the clock back 4 decades and it seemed car makers were hell bent on designing for the future, and never looking back at the glorious past. And into this void, makers such as Panther-Westwinds found a ready market. Of course there were some who thought the idea of a replica car was nothing short of sacrilege or heresy: a vandalization of the pure form.
Probably the most famous basis for these 'Replicars' was the Bugatti 35
and the SS100, famous forerunner of the Jaguar. Panther West Winds, of Byfleet, Surrey, were responsible for manufacturing arguably the most accurate and luxurious replica of the SS100, yet the machine that was produced, although very much SS100 in looks, still had a great personality of its own.
Built around the Jaguar XK engine, the J72 was always going to be a compromise, but it was a very good compromise, giving the driver modern roadholding and power with just a taste of vintage heritage built in, to add the icing to the cake. Most J72 Panther's had the redoubtable 4.2-litre engine, which produced 190 bhp and gave the car a top speed approaching 120 mph.
Naturally, the fuel consumption was high, working out at 18 mpg. Sitting squatly on fat Avon radial tyres, the J72s had remarkably good road-holding, although the ride was firm, but not uncomfortable. While the Jaguar engines propelled the machines at remarkable speed, servo-assisted discs all round afforded reasonably good braking too.
Vauxhall Magnum Suspension
The front suspension
was essentially the independent wishbone setup of the Vauxhall Magnum, with appropriate modifications by Panther. This was adopted by Panther in 1977
to gain superior ride comfort without sacrificing the already splendid handling. lnfact. both aspects were improved. To finish off the car's superb aluminium bodies, there was a typical 'Old English' combination of walnut-wood dashboard and Connolly hide seats
. The J72 could be ordered with either a hard or soft top, automatic transmission
and air-conditioning. And yes, you read correctly - the J72 used an aluminium body, not a fibreglass-from-mould which was the usual fare from replica car makers.
The first versions of the J72 were powered by the 3781cc XK engine, and soon after the J72'S introduction, a tuned version, known as the J72S, was launched. Externally, the only difference was that this model had alloy wheels
in place of the chrome wire units fitted to be standard car, but the engine produced considerably more power. Then, in 1973
, Panther announced two new versions of the J72, powered by either the 4.2-litre XK engine or the new 5.3-litre Jaguar V12. Needless to say, the V12 unit gave the car electrifying performance, although it added about two thousand pounds to the £7500 of the 4.2. Unfortunately, Panther were unable to obtain complete V12s from Jaguar, so they bought sets of 'spare' parts and then assembled the engines themselves. It was not long before the company came to more convenient arrangement with Jaguar and purchased complete units. In 1975, however, the V12 was dropped.
Panther J72 Quick Specifications:
Front-mounted, water-cooled straight-six. 92.07 mm (3.625 in) bore x 106 mm (4.173 in) stroke 4235cc (25843 cu in). Maximum power 190 bhp at 5000 rpm; maximum torque 200 Ib ft at 2000 rpm. Cast-iron cylinder block and light-alloy head. Compression ratio 8:1. 7 main bearings. 2 valves
per cylinder operated, direct by twin overhead camshafts. Two SU carburettors
Single-dry-plate clutch and four-speed manual gearbox with overdrive
on top as standard. Ratios 1 st 3.04, 2nd 1.973, 3rd 1.328, 4th 1, overdrive
4th 0.778, rev 349:1. Hypoid-bevel final drive with Salisbury Powr-Lok limited-slip differential.
Front - independent by wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar
and telescopic dampers. Rear - non-independent by a live axle, trailing arms, transverse linkage bar coil springs and telescopic dampers.
Recirculating ball. Turns from lock to lock 2.4.
Servo-assisted discs all round. Wheels 6 in x 15 in.
E70VR x 15.
Dimensions and weight:
Wheelbase 109 in; track-front and rear 54.50 in; length 160 in; width 65.50 in; height 48.50 in; ground clearance 5 in; dry weight 2576 Ib; turning circle between walls 40 ft; fuel tank capacity 28 gals.
Sports roadster two-door, two-seater. Soft-top convertible or removable hardtop. Rectangular steel ladder.
Maximum speed approx 120 mph. Acceleration 0-60 mph 6.6 secs, 0-109 mph 18.2 secs. Fuel consumption 18 mpg.