APRIL MONTHLY MEETING, Drouin Golf Club – Thursday 14th April

Our April monthly meeting wasn’t as well attended as we’d hoped, but those present enjoyed catching up with the latest news whilst tucking into a special, discounted, 2-course meal.

Jim McNiven provided a focus for the evening by displaying his recently imported 1979 Panther Lima in the dining room and telling us a little of its heritage.

The Panther company was founded in 1972 and enjoyed success throughout the 1970s with retro-styled cars based on the mechanical components of standard production cars from other manufacturers.

The Lima was a retro-styled roadster that used Vauxhall Viva and Magnum mechanicals, Jim’s car is fitted with the Magnum’s 1800 single overhead cam, slant 4 engine. The body was built mainly of fibreglass in a roadster style reminiscent of a Morgan Plus 4 and weighs about 800kg. The car has a steel chassis and floor and cleverly utilises MG Midget doors in their entirety. Over 500 Limas were produced; most were fitted with the Vauxhall 2-litre or 2.3 litre engine, some later models were also turbo-charged.  

This particular car was delivered to Japan in 1979, where it was obviously well looked after and used sparingly. The odometer only shows 30,000 miles. After collecting the car in Melbourne, Jim has replaced the 30-year old tyres and given it a wash and polish. The disc/drum brakes had recently been refurbished as had some of the interior trim. Jim says that it drives nicely, with performance similar to a well-tuned MGB – not breathtaking, but adequate.

It’s certainly a car that is fairly rare in this country and it certainly attracted a lot of interest at our meeting. If Jim is ever interested in selling, I’m sure Trish Brooks could be persuaded to give it a home on Phillip Island.

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