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Dr Sedhu's DeTomaso Pantera GTS

POSTED BY admin ON 29 March 2012

Perlis, with a population of slightly over 200,000 people, is presumably the state with a modest or least number of automobiles, judging primarily from the vehicle registration numbers.

According to the Road Transport Department’s web portal, it is the only state in the peninsula which still registers new vehicles with two alphabets preceding serial numbers.

The streets of Perlis may not be abuzz with automobiles as in other parts of the country but the state does pride itself with one of the more prominent car connoisseurs in the nation.

When in Kangar, try to find Dr. Sedhu Ahmad Faisal and don’t be surprised if the instant reaction is, “Oh, cari doktor kereta ke?” (Are you looking for the car doctor?)

Dr. Sedhu (as he is popularly known) is not a mechanic or a car dealer but a qualified medical practitioner with a deep passion for automobiles and is widely reputed for his warm and hospitable disposition towards his patients, relatives and friends.

Upon completion of his housemanship in India, Sedhu, a Johorian by birth, was posted as a medical officer to Kangar in 1971. After a short stint with the Armed Forces in Kedah a year later, he got married and settled permanently in Kangar in 1973. He ventured into private medical practice with the opening of his Klinik Sedhu in 1974.

Infected with the car bug as a young doctor and family man, Dr. Sedhu’s first purchase was a pre-owned 1,300cc Ford Capri Mk1, a stylish British coupe which was then popularly marketed worldwide as “The Car You Always Promised Yourself’.

A few years later, he traded the Capri for a brand new rival German coupe – the Opel Manta 1900 Sport Rallye (SR) which bore the registration number R5757.

Dr. Sedhu still has fond memories of this car and is looking to re-purchase the same if it is still in existence. He recalls selling the Manta in a hurry during a period where many car loving Malaysian doctors went on a Jaguar buying frenzy.

Being an avid two-door car enthusiast, he went on to purchase the most stylish of all models in the Jaguar range – a Series 1 E-Type roadster (JP 71). That was the beginning of his love affair with the marque, which saw the acquisition of various other models like a XJ12, XJ6 , XK120 (WB 484), XK150 (JAG 150), XJS and XJ40.

A member of the English Jaguar Drivers’ Club since 1974, Dr. Sedhu is highly regarded today as one of the leading authorities on Jaguar cars in Malaysia and has judged at many concours meets locally.

We visited him recently to gain some insight into his current collection of classic cars and but it was his library of automotive literature that took us by surprise. The wide array of books and magazines featuring almost all cars known to mankind can be found in Dr. Sedhu’s private library, clearly portraying him, in our minds, as a great fan of the automobile. In the midst of the Jaguars that he once owned, Dr. Sedhu also indulged himself with some Italian automotive flavour with the purchase of a Ferrari Dino in the 1980s. Over the years, the Dino and all the Jaguars were sold with the exception of the XJS and XJ40.

His abode, a bungalow which sits on an acre of land with lush green surroundings, features a few attached garages.

Within his domain lies three variants of Saab’s 900s, a Pontiac Trans-Am and a 1973 DeTomaso Pantera GTS, reportedly the only one of its kind in the country. This right-hand drive car was brought into Malaysia in 1974 by a local politician, sold to a physician and later acquired by a member of a royal family. Sedhu purchased the Pantera through a renowned restorer, James Wong, some 25 years ago.

The story of the Pantera is a unique one as it embodies the struggles of the DeTomaso founder, Alejandro de Tomaso, an Argentinean of Italian origin who had practically no formal school training. He materialised his vision of turning the DeTomaso brand of cars into “junior supercars” by using his strong business acumen and pure passion for the automobile. He facilitated a Ford and DeTomaso marriage and realised his ambition of building his brand of high performance mid-engine GT cars.

Ghia stylist Tom Tjaarda was tasked with the styling of the Pantera while Giam Paolo Dallara was assigned to the chassis and production design. Presented at the 1970 New York Motor Show, the Pantera featured a full steel monocoque design and was powered by a Ford 5,763cc V8 engine.

In 1973, the enhanced GTS models for the European market came with a more powerful engine quoting 350hp, which gave a top speed of about 280km/h.

Today, DeTomaso Pantera’s enjoys a huge following worldwide especially in North America and can command up to £50,000 (RM242,215) in value for an immaculate and original unit.

“I have been offered top money for my Pantera GTS but I don’t think my kids will let this one go,” said the father of four.

Dr. Sedhu can be contacted at 012-267 3458 for any enquiries.