If you haven’t noticed, pop-up headlights disappeared from production cars over a decade ago — the C5 Corvette was one of the last production cars to roll out of a factory with ‘hidden headlamps’ (the official name) in 2004. That is until the Ares Panther begins production this October.
Now, if you’ve never heard of Ares, it’s understandable. It’s a relatively new startup coachbuilder based in the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy only churns out a small handful of made-to-order custom cars based on mass-produced vehicles like the Mercedes G63. Project Panther, however, is looking like a change in the company’s strategy. Based on the Lamborghini Huracan, the radically reworked and redesigned Panther started life as a one-off commission paying homage to the De Tomaso Pantera, but since the announcement of the project, enough customers came forward to convince Ares to put the mid-engine supercar into limited production.
Ares didn’t just borrow a car from its neighbors up the road in Sant-Agata, slap a body kit on it and call it a day. No, Ares went deeper than that, fiddled with the engine, redesigned the interior and, some might say crucially, brought back pop-up headlights. Using the Huracan architecture as a starting point it made sense to use the same mid-engine V10 for power too, but instead of keeping it at 5.2-liters, Ares bored the cylinders out to 5.6-liters, resulting in a healthy output of 650 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. Inside, the track-focused Lamborghini interior is a little more stately with a considerable amount of brown leather, suede and brushed aluminum accents replacing the blacked out upholstery.
As for the headlights, it wouldn’t be a proper homage to the De Tomaso Pantera without pop-up headlights, for ultimate nostalgia. To be fair, pop-up headlights are technically still legal, it’s just that with current safety and design regulations, it makes it incredibly difficult for big manufacturers to develop and implement them on a global scale. Either way, getting a retro design inspired by an obscure supercar from the ’70s back on the road — powered by a bored out Lambo V10, nonetheless — is precisely the type of car we need, right now.