Story and Photos: Colten Sweeney

Automezzi; an event for enthusiasts, collectors, and locals. An event that encourages all of the above to gather and appreciate Italian exotics as one. Automezzi, which has been hosted annually for the past 32 years in the Denver metro area, joins forces with Ferrari of Denver and the Caruso Family Charities at Anderson Park to host over 130 Italian exotics while raising funds to assist the families of young children and young adults impacted by life-threatening illnesses and life-changing events. With a worthy cause and a plethora of seriously impressive exotic vehicles, each with their own story, in attendance, Automezzi 2022 was a hit for the local Denver community.

Lines of DeTomaso Panteras lined the entrance, guiding guests towards a lot full of incredible vehicles – all sharing Italian heritage while maintaining their own individuality. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Ducatis and more covered the lot, exhibiting their ambitious designs and powerful engines. As a first time attendee of the event, I couldn’t help but find myself in awe at the sheer volume of rare and outstanding vehicles.

Live music  from the Flatirons Jazz Orchestra filled the air, drinks were served and enjoyed, and friends and families wandered about the event, making conversation with owners and fans alike.

One car in particular caught my eye while I walked about the event; a 1971 DeTomaso Pantera with vanity plates reading “BADDCAT.” Luckily enough, the owner of this immaculate black Pantera was standing close by, taking questions and chatting with other Pantera owners.

The owner, Dave Hall, was happy to discuss his vehicle’s story with me and the more he told me, the better the story became. Hall bought the ‘71 Pantera in 1978 with 60,000 miles on the odometer in Denver from a gentleman who was from California. The vehicle was financed and still had a balance on the loan. Hall told me that the owner was going through a divorce at the time and needed money, so he knew this was his opportunity to jump on a car he dreamt of owning. For $10,000 (or roughly $45,000 adjusted for inflation to 2022), Hall was able to take ownership of the vehicle, having the loan transferred into his name. For the remainder of the Pantera’s life, it has been kept by Hall and driven everywhere and anywhere, surpassing surpassing 309,000 miles on the odometer when we talked.

Hall told me about his time racing the car in Castle Rock at the Continental Divide Raceway until 1983 when the track was purchased by real estate developers. This didn’t stop Hall from driving the car though, and it certainly didn’t stop him from taking the car and modifying it over the years. This particular DeTomaso Pantera was originally painted in gray, but Hall decided he wanted the car in black and had it repainted at Perry & Terry Auto Body. In addition to the exterior paint, Hall also had an aftermarket spoiler installed on the rear and lowered the car, fitting it with new 18” 6 spoke wheels – creating a beautiful fitment around the vehicle. Diving into the engine bay, Hall also did work to push the car’s output up to roughly 550 horsepower. The Ford 351 Windsor block was bored and stroked to 434 cubic inches with aluminum Cleveland heads. For cooling, Hall had a custom, flat laying radiator installed into the Pantera, and also converted the manual steering column to hydraulic power steering to help improve handling.

To see a vehicle of this quality endure the amount of driving Hall had done in it over the past 44 years was more than impressive. A car is meant to be driven, and Hall had taken that idea and blown it out of the water. After our discussion, Hall and I shook hands and I thanked him for his time sharing with me the story of his 309,000 mile Pantera.

As I walked away, I couldn’t help but feel inspired by Hall’s story. While it’s just one story from Automezzi, it was one that left an impact on myself and I would imagine many other visitors. With more than 130 unique Italian exotics on display, I could only imagine what other amazing stories are out on the showfield. Next year, I hope to share more of those stories from Automezzi, but for 2022, Dave Hall’s Pantera gets the spotlight.