1 Of 44 Made! 1993 Panoz Roadster

Have you ever wondered where Chrysler engineers got their design inspiration for the Plymouth Prowler? I can’t find any proof that it came from the Panoz Roadster, but it seems odd that both open-wheel designed cars not only look similar but were also built using aluminum body panels. This hand-built Roadster is just 1 of 44 made between 1992-1995 by the Panoz Auto Development Company and according to its seller, it was actually built for Nancy Panoz, the matriarch of the family. Currently residing in Wakefield, New Hampshire the Roadster is described as being in like-new condition and even wears its original tires. It’s available here on Craigslist for $39,000 which is only about $5,000 less than its original 1993 MSRP. That’s a pretty good depreciation rate for a car that’s in the infancy stage of being considered a classic.

The history of how the Panoz Roadster came to be is quite fascinating and you can read the whole story here on Panoz’s website.  In a nutshell, it more or less began in the late 1980s when, with financial backing from his father Don (lead researcher/inventor of what we now know as the nicotine patch), Dan Panoz set out to build a no-nonsense, lightweight, and inexpensive sports car.  According to CarThrottle.com, Dan bought production rights to a car whose chassis was designed by Frank Costin called the TMC Costin. However, Dan had a specific motor in mind for his project and he needed to reconfigure the TMC chassis in order to make it fit. Redesigning the chassis also meant modifying the TMC body. Therefore, Dan solicited a designer named Freeman Thomas to devise a Lotus 7-inspired body accented with Cobra-esque rear fenders to fit the redesigned chassis. Finally, with updates to the chassis and body completed, Dan could realize his vision and give his lightweight Roadster the powerful motor that would make it roar. Drumroll, please…

Hold on a minute!  After all of that build-up, where’s the photo of the motor?  Well, sorry, no pictures of the Ford 302 (5.0 liter) Windsor V8 were provided by the seller and that’s a bummer.  Yes, you read that right.  The rear wheel drive, 5-speed Roadster is outfitted with the same famous, powerful, fuel injected, bulletproof motor found in the Mustang (1988-1994). But think about this: the Roadster weighs 1,200 lbs. less than the Mustang!  Fast and very athletic, the car is nearly as wide as a C4 but shorter in height than a Miata. Drivers report the Roadster’s low crouch enables it to handle amazingly.

The seller mentions there are no frills in the Roadster’s cabin, and that’s not an exaggeration.  No radio, no AC, not even a heater.  According to Panoz, it was designed simply for driving enjoyment.  A true open sports car, early Roadsters came with a tonneau cover but no top.  This Roadster does have a top as well as a tonneau cover, as seen in the photos.  Located in Hoschton, Georgia the Panoz Company aren’t making any more Roadsters but they actually still service them for customers.  But if you live nowhere near Hoschton don’t let that deter you from owning such a rare gem.  One of Dan’s goals was to build a sports car that was both reliable and serviceable, which is why he chose Ford’s stock drivetrain.  Parts are easy to source and if you need help there are plenty of Ford gearheads out there to lend a hand. Have you ever seen a Panoz?


  1. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Wow. At first I was like ‘meh’ ’cause I can’t really bring up any love or like for the Prowler but that rear 3/4 view has me liking this a lot. That plus the great write up!

    Like 6
  2. OhU8one2

    I believe the Panoz family even owns a race track somewhere way down south. This car’s power to weight ratio can’t be doubted. The car should flat fly.

    Like 2
    • Nitehawk770

      Panoz owned the track since 1996, but IMSA Holdings bought Panoz’s company that owned it in September 2012.

      Like 3
    • ThreePedalSteve

      That track has a name……………ROAD ATLANTA

      Like 2
  3. David

    I’ve seen one of these once, maybe not the exact series but close. Interestingly the owner was Steven of Aerosmith as my mother is friends with the band. Another band member, Joey I believe, had one Corvette for each year produced last I knew, about 15 years or so ago. All roadworthy, registered, and insured, according to him.

    Like 2
  4. David C

    Panoz is about 10 miles from where I live. They still build, sell and race cars.

    Like 3
  5. Wayne

    I want it bad! Too many toys at this time however.

    Like 2
  6. Fran

    Much nicer looking than the copy cat chrysler.

    Like 2
  7. C5 Corvette

    A good friend of mine had one of these built for himself. It is a beautiful green with lots of chrome. He was able to enjoy it for several years before becoming terminally ill. He passed some 15 years ago. As far as I know it is still in his family, but I have not seen it in many years.

    Like 2
  8. TimM

    Shaped like a Bullett light weight good size motor!! What’s not to like??

    Like 2
  9. Gary Kish

    I always like Panoz designs. I’d forgotten about the open wheelier.

    1,200 lbs lighter than a Mustang (which is probably lighter than today’s Mustang) means it has to be a blast to drive.

    Like 1

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