27 October 2019

More than an old car #121: Panther Kallista

Although I would consider myself as being able to identify how old a car is, some cars that I've seen makes the age prediction hard, such as this 1983 Panther Kallista!

The Panther Westwinds Company (commonly known as Panther) was founded in 1972 by Robert Jankel, a British designer for limousines and armoured cars. It enjoyed success throughout the 1970s, specialising in retro-styled cars based on mechanical components of standard production cars. Most of the body shells were made of fibreglass, though a few Panther cars were made to a higher standard. Interestingly, they were also engaged to make a hovercraft using engines from Honda Gold Wing motorcycles: the plan continued in some secrecy but it disappeared when the company collapsed in 1980. Panther was sold to Kim Yong-Chul, then vice-chairman of Korea's Jindo Group. Production restarted in 1981 with a flurry of vehicles made, including the Kallista.

In 1987, Panther was sold to the Ssangyong Group: although production of the Kallista ended in 1990, a few units were made in South Korea up till 1992, as the revitalisation project was not successful. It was transferred under ownership of Daewoo in 1999, but Jankel managed to buy the Panther name back in 2001. However, he passed away in 2005, signifying the demise of an unusual brand.

The Kallista was the replacement model for the Lima and was first introduced in 1982. It took styling cues from classic Morgan and Allard cars, while using a series of Ford engines. The modern front chin spoiler helps with aerodynamics although it looks somewhat out of place with the styling. It was also noted to have relatively poor cushioning and restricted luggage space, according to a review in 1984. This unit was powered by a 1597 cc CVH i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 170 km/h with an acceleration of 11.5 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 3905 mm long and weighed 870 kg.

Production of the Kallista ended with around 1,437 made. This is 1 of 6 units remaining in Singapore, although I have yet to see the others personally. Kallistas were sold here by Autohouse Trading Pte Ltd, a distributor that also sold TVR cars too. At S$76,455 [or S$149,165 in today's money], it was a car not meant for anybody but multi-car owners who were fine without creature comforts. This particular unit is the most active: it tends to appear during events and partly because it still runs on normal plates. Personally, this car always confuses me: it is hard to tell immediately that it is an old car, rather than a modern-day neo-classic vehicle instead. It still looks brand new and belies its actual age. That said, it is an interesting car to see up close; maybe you'll see it soon!

1 comment:

  1. Any clue who owns the name Panther Kallista after Jankel?