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Project Car Hell: Would You Buy This Wrecked De Tomaso Pantera, and More?

The Pantera is just one of many wrecked exotic cars for sale at PorFor Auto Dismantlers in Los Angeles.

They say you should never judge a book by a cover or a house by its front door. You don't want to judge Porche Foreign Auto Inc., or PorFor Auto Dismantlers as it's well known to its regulars, by its seedy looking exterior in South Central Los Angeles. Since 1967 the place has been selling parts for some of the most exclusive and exotic classic cars ever built. And even with the demise of company founder Rudi Klein more than a decade ago, PorFor shows no signs of slowing down. Rudi's sons now own the operation and, slowly but surely, they're getting through years of inventory, selling parts and entire wrecked exotic cars as projects. And a thoroughly totaled De Tomaso Pantera is just the tip of the iceberg.

You may have heard of Porche Foreign Auto before. The name is intentionally misspelled after Porsche Cars North America issued the wrecking yard a cease and desist order against using "Porsche" in its official business name. Mostly frequented by enthusiasts "in the know," the owners have historically been quite secretive about what's stashed inside. Rudi himself stashed away many cars for himself; rumored to be among them are a custom 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K built for famed Mercedes pre-war grand prix driver Rudolph Caracciola, a pair of Iso Grifo convertible prototypes, an alloy-bodied Mercedes 300 SL "Gullwing," and perhaps a handful of Lamborghini Miuras. Those cars aren't for sale, but below are several that are.

1972 De Tomaso Pantera

Most of the cars in the yard were obtained years ago, when they were just wrecked high-end luxury and sports cars. With a cost to repair far exceeding their value, many were parted out. Some just sat. This 1972 De Tomaso Pantera was supposedly wrecked early in its life, in 1978. The damage, as you can see, was extensive, making the car almost unrecognizable. A wrecked exotic-car restoration project? Probably not. PorFor recommends calling for a price on this one. Today, a good Pantera can be worth the better part of $100,000, but this will never be a good Pantera again.

1975 Ferrari 308 GT4

While PorFor's owners are said to not allow photos inside the wrecking yard, they do occasionally offer complete cars for sale which give a glimpse at what's beyond the exterior walls. From these, we see stacks and stacks of mostly German cars, Porsches, Mercedes, and the like. Dozens of 356s, 911s, some 190 SLs, 280 SEs, etc. Some of these can be seen behind this 308 GT4, Ferrari's first V-8-powered mid-engine road car, styled by Bertone. This member of the wrecked exotic cars club is an early example, desirable for its small European-style bumpers and smog-exemption status in the state of California. Unfortunately, its front end was damaged heavily in 1990, and three decades in the sun have done it no favors. This one's priced at $19,500, while an excellent 308 GT4 is worth perhaps $50,000 or so.

1970 Porsche 914-6

Here's a sad story: In 1972, a rare Porsche 914-6-yes, the one with the 2.0-liter Porsche flat-six engine-suffers an engine fire that scorches the car's rear. Back then, the 914-6 is just a used car, and the 914 in general is somewhat of a running joke among 911 and 356 owners. So, years go by, pieces are picked off—a door here, a trunk lid there, then the roof. Today, with excellent 914-6s bringing more than $100,000 on the market, it's possible this car could be returned to the road, but it probably still won't be profitable.

1959 Porsche 356 A

This Porsche 356 Coupe is among the last of the A-series cars, with the less-loved Bs arriving by the end of 1959. Originally a black car, it had a fairly big wreck in 1973 when a used 356 was just another old car of slight interest. Today, fearless Porsche fanatics restore rare Speedsters and Carreras from less, but even with a solid 356 A Coupe's ability to bring $100,000 or so, this car looks too far gone to even start thinking about it. With a price tag of $18,500, it'll probably sit a while longer still.

1975 Alfa Romeo Montreal

The Montreal is one of Alfa's most misunderstood cars, with a front-mounted V-8 and very exotic styling. Well, at least before it joins the list of wrecked exotic cars. PorFor thinks this is one of 175 Montreals built in right-hand drive, and the sellers probably hope for a little international love for this one. The back story is wild: This Montreal was imported to the U.S. from England, and then stolen, set on fire, and finally recovered by police in 1983. It went to PorFor next, where it continued to disintegrate for decades, with various pieces pulled off of it through the years. It's for sale today at $16,000, but you're better off saving double that and getting a complete, running project to restore.