Prodigal Panthers head for home en masse

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Close on 100 Panthers made a return home last weekend when the Panther Car Club held a two-day get-together at Brooklands to celebrate the marque's 40th anniversary.

The historic Weybridge circuit in Surrey was a fitting location for the 1-2 September event as the cars were built in nearby Byfleet. "The cars where built here until 1982 and we decided it was time for the Panthers to return home," said club chairperson Val Bridges.

The 92-strong turnout included several cars from all corners of Europe with all models – from popular Lima and Kallista, to the rarer Jaguar SS100-inspired J72 and De Ville variants – on display.

"We had 23 cars from Europe and members from France, Holland, Germany , Denmark, Belgium,  Ireland, Scotland and of course the UK," remarked a delighted Bridges who reckons the record turnout is thanks to the club's efforts to spread the word about the marque.

"We have really pushed the club's international presence and now have members as far away as Cyprus and Croatia and even Japan and New Zealand," added Bridges.

Also present were many of the Panther car company's employees including Panther one-time designers Martin Tanner and Andrew McKenzie, along with Michael Walker, who helped develop the marque after being approached by Panther West Winds Car Company founder Robert Jankel.

'Best of Show' went to Terry Borton's 1983 Kallista (above), that was fresh out of a major restoration, while Don Scrivens scooped 'Best Lima' and Val Bridges 'Best J72'.

Dutchman Rob Metselaar picked up the silver for 'Best Engine' bay thanks to his immaculate De Ville which also won its class.

His amethyst-over-silver saloon was one of four De Villes on display, along with German enthusiast Roland Klause and local member John Deed's (foreground, above Best of Show Kallista) saloons. Also attracting attention was Ray Bridges' Drophead.

"Panther only made 11 Dropheads and 46 Saloons and to have to have four De Ville's here was impressive," added Bridges. "We would've had five but one broke down on the way from France."

Other awards included a trophy for 'Services to the Club' which went to ex-Panther employee Bruno Eismark for his efforts at documenting the history of the marque. Eismark, who attended, reckoned the event, "had the best gathering of Kallistas."

The club's next gathering will be the International Charity Classic Car Extravaganza on the Isle of Wight (15-16 September) while members are planning a Diamond Jubilee-inspired stand at this year's Classic Motor Show at the NEC, in response to the show's 'tell the story' theme.

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