Robert Jankel

Saturday 1st January 1938

Born on this day, Robert Jankel, arguably the world’s most famous designer of limousines, armoured cars and other specialty vehicles. In 1972 he founded the automotive company Panther Westwinds in Weybridge, Surrey, England. The company was named “Panther” because of its similarity to Jaguar and “Westwinds” after the Jankel family’s home. The company’s first car, a prototype two-seater called the Panther J72, was powered by a Jaguar engine and modelled after the Jaguar SS100. Although the asking price for the J72 was around twice that of contemporary Jaguar models, magazine advertisements generated enough interest for Jankel to produce one J72 a week during the car’s production. Roughly 500 were produced. In 1974, Jankel produced the Panther De Ville, powered by a Jaguar engine and modelled after the Bugatti Royale. The De Ville cost twice as much as a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, and only the wealthiest of collectors could afford it. The Panther Rio, launched after one year, was based on the Triumph Dolomite. The luxurious saloon cost three times as much as a Dolomite, however, and only 38 were produced. The Panther 6, a two-seater roadster outfitted with six wheels, followed in 1977, but because of its high cost, unconventional design and relative obscurity, only two were produced one black and one white both cars made with powerful Cadillac V8 Turbocharged engine. Jankel’s most successful vehicle was the Panther Lima. The Lima was styled like a 1930s roadster but used modern fibreglass technology for the body, which was built around a steel framework and chassis. More than 1,000 of the two marks of this popular model were built.

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