The converters : Panther Westwinds

The origins of Panther date back to 1971, when Robert Jankel decided that he wanted leave the fashion industry and follow his dream of becoming a creator of exclusive cars.

Panther 6 press photo from 1977

Panther’s products were truly a remarkable group of cars created by a remarkable man: Robert Jankel, designer and businessman. Jankel worked in the tuning trade many years before the creation of Panther Westwinds, but he couldn’t make it pay for itself – in his own words, ‘…I couldn’t make a living at it.’ Once this conclusion was drawn, he left to join the textile industry, eventually becoming Chief Executive of, and a major shareholder, in the company he worked for. Throughout this period of advancement, he maintained his deep interest in the design and building of one-off cars.

This culminated in him building his own cars at the rate of about one per year, the last of which was called the Panther.

By 1971, and with nothing left to prove in the fashion industry, he sold his interests in the textile business, which left him with, ‘quite a lot of money’ as well as time, on his hands. Jankel did what any enthusiast would do – and used his finances to invest in the facilities to build production Panthers on a regular basis. This seemed the right thing to do, as the original Panther had generated a great deal of interest.

Panther Westwinds’ impressive growth

The facility he invested in was a modestly-sized factory and, from this starting point, he bought up the small companies that, as an amateur, he used to farm out work to, such as panel beating and trimming. From this point, Panther Westwinds was in business and, before long, they would act as sub-contractors to others, such as Rolls-Royce, as well as producing up to three Panthers per week. The company’s ultimate creation was the Panther Six, but that is a different story…

Things went awry for the company in 1980 when they went into receivership, before being bought-out by Young C. Kim from Korea, who led the business in a different direction. Jankel himself remained in the industry throughout the 1980s, being prominent in the business of expensively converting perfectly good Mercedes-Benz motors into something far less subtle…

Like all British specialists, Panther relied heavily on the products of BL – and this can be seen in the make-up of such cars as the J72 (Jaguar platform) DeVille (ADO17 body parts) and Rio (Dolomite platform and underpinnings).

Robert Jankel passed away in 2005.

Panther Westwinds’ greatest hits

Panther J72

The latter-day SS100 built on XJ12 and XJ6 underpinnings: monstrously fast and expensive, exquisitely built…


Panther Lazer

This outlandish one-off model was commissioned by Panther’s Canadian importer as a gift for his wife. She wasn’t impressed…


Panther Rio

A restyled Dolomite built to Rolls-Royce standards. It did not sell…


Owen Sedanca

Long after all hope of producing the Owen Sedanca had been abandoned, a surprise order from a wealthy customer led to HR Owen commissioning Panther to build one. A few years later, they repeated the exercise…


The Harrods XJ6

When the luxury brands of Panther, Jaguar and Harrods came together, this opulent (not to say garish) car was the result…


Keith Adams
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