Intending this article for much earlier publication, I finally encountered sufficient uninterrupted time to get this article together. Please forgive my delay.
Summer 2013 seemed to go on for ever. Unseasonably warm weather lasted off and on into late October. Weather Gods extended me one last chance to grab some car portraits in early November before doom and Salt Lake City winter weather gloom descended upon us. I found Tony Beale at Utah’s British Field Days in June, 2013. Among many familiar British name plates I’d seen before Tony welcomed me to his spot under Liberty Park’s tall, merciful shade giving trees, introduced a brand totally unfamiliar to me. I wasn’t quite sure at what I stared. Was this a Morgan? MG? Kit car? With pride and confidence, Tony told me, “Its a Panther Kallista.” After a brief rundown of the Panther’s history, I thought, “This is pretty cool. I need to get this up on Daily Derbi.” As we exchanged contact info, summer, then autumn, ticked away. We missed one photo op as winter placed a warning shot across our path during November’s 1st Sunday afternoon. Next weekend, November’s 2nd Sunday, we had our chance.
Newly set Mountain Standard time brought golden hour light an hour earlier in our day, as Tony quietly rolled up for our shoot of his immaculate Panther Kallista at Salt Lake Airport #2. Top down, face alight with a “Can’t believe I’m driving this car with the top down in November,” smile, Tony gently rested his Kallista while we set up our shot. Dennjs Bleazard, Mike Gillilan and I guided Kerry Smith’s Swearingen SA-26AT, “The Merlin,” as background for our shot. Dennis arranged Leading Edge Aviation’s plane positioning as our great companion to Tony’s classy Panther. We posed the car. The sun did the rest. UK’s Panther Club published Kallista’s history on line @ www.pantherclub.co.uk/pantherkallistahistory.htm. Emerging to market in 1972, experiencing rapid ups and downs, several ownership changes, several successes and as many near death challenges, Panther car company ceased UK Kallista production and any international distribution in 1990. As the last owner, Korea’s Ssangyong Motor Company reportedly intended continued production in their home country. I haven’t heard of any. Have you?
Speaking with Tony regarding his 1986 copy, it bears a Ford 2.3L Mustang derived engine. Since emission issues presented US import barriers, Ford’s 88 hp engine proved the quickest route to US’ market. Chassis# 5049 came off the line March 13, 1986 as unit #23, one of 154 total Kallista’s produced with, according to Tony, only 107 making it to US shores. Tony’s car came to him in such great condition he’s had little to maintain. Working on British sports cars nearly his entire life, Tony says many Panther Kallista components come from more well known British brands. He’s seen no other Kallistas in Utah or at any personally attended car shows. What are the most common questions when people see this rare automobile? “Is that a kit car?” “How much did it cost?” “How much is it worth?” It wasn’t just me! I thought it might be a kit. As for the other questions, what does it matter? Let your eyes feast. You won’t encounter many of these stunning cars anywhere. See you at the track.
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