Nancy Panoz’s Personal Car: 1993 Panoz Roadster

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Here’s a car I almost forgot existed: the 1993 Panoz Roadster. In some ways, these odd looking roadsters were the American interpretation of the widely used formula of a loose Lotus 7 replica that mainly served as a means to develop a light-weight chassis with a powerful engine up front. That was the genesis of the Panoz brand, as the company purchased the production rights to a car known as the TMC Costin, which was produced by a European company on the skids in the late 80s. The Costin was reimagined into what you see here, the orginal Panoz Roadster, fitted with a Ford 302 V8 under the hood. This example listed here on craigslist was built for the matriarch of the Panoz family, Nancy Panoz, as her personal car, and it’s listed for $35,000.

The styling of the Roadster was a mixture of eras and personalities, featuring motorcycle fenders up front that recalled the Plymouth Prowler with rear haunches that seemed like a throwback to the original Shelby Cobra. The bugeye headlights are a homage of sorts to the Lotus 7, and the long hood and short body a tribute to American muscle cars everywhere. I wouldn’t call it attractive, by any means, but it sure looks like a lot of fun. The wheels and tires could stand to be upgraded, as those big rear fenders beg for a set of staggered wheels out back to accentuate the wide track. The color is supposedly a special order for Mrs. Panoz, and the only Roadster in existence to wear Mocha Mist paint.

The Panoz Roadster is a bit rudimentary in some ways, as evidence by the low-buck top design. When you read through the history of the car, it seems like it was perpetually caught between being a cheap track toy and an exclusive offering by a low-volume manufacturer. I don’t know that it ever truly achieved status in either category, as it’s not like you see these Roadsters lining up next to Miatas and M3s at the local track days, nor do I see them among the priceless lineup of cars that tend to show up at local Cars & Coffee gatherings. The Roadster is an attainable vehicle these days, if you can find one. Later Panoz product offerings seemingly found more favor among enthusiasts, such as the Esperante, and their on-track success is well-documented.

Still, if you want a performance vehicle with a drivetrain that will cost very little to maintain while still enjoying tons of exclusivity, it’s hard to go wrong with a Roadster – especially the only one painted this color. The seller notes there’s a plaque inside denoting that this Roadster was built for the mother of the company’s founder, Daniel Panoz, and the wife of Don Panoz, who helped fund the creation of the company thanks to his success in launching the Nicotine Patch (yes, really.) This example has just 26,000 original miles, and the seller notes it is one of just 23 made in 1993. Change the wheels to a design slightly less in-period and I bet it will sell quickly. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find.

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  1. Weasel

    Nancy who?

    It looks like it has a coolant leak parked in that puddle.

    Like 3
    • Greg Davis

      Exactly what I thought. That’s no provenance worth touting. Except maybe to one of the other three dozen that bought one of these back in the day, or who haven’t been able to sleep a wink lamenting lost opportunity in the decades since they didn’t by one.

      Like 0
      • doone

        Its a reflection of the trees in the puddle, not coolant.

        Like 2
  2. Fred Alexander

    Fun Car – -not a fun purchase price though.

    Like 1

    Complete impracticality and color (as is the case with all brown vehicles), aside, I like it. I’d venture a guess that few are for sale at any given time. Accurately evaluating this car’s monetary worth is difficult.

    Like 0
    • mike

      in the car business we called it “stay around brown” always a tough sell..thats more of a mini van “sun city gold” !!!!!

      Like 6
  4. scott m

    Wow! Usually a fan of purebreds, but I would drive the hell out of this mongrel!

    Like 0
  5. Paolo


    Like 0
    • Steve R

      This is what the Prowler should have been. Chrysler decided to go with a V6 and automatic rather than a V8 and manual transmission like the Panoz.

      The asking price may not be that far off, Prowlers seem to sell in the low to mid-20’s. If the seller is willing to negotiate someone might be able to strike a deal.

      Steve R

      Like 6
  6. Claudio

    Yeah, the price is high!
    Yeah,the color is sh**t !
    Yeah, the wheels have to come off!
    But, this is an awesome car
    Spice up the engine a bit
    And go driving
    A lightweight car with a v8
    These things were made of aluminum
    But, the price makes it a dream …

    Like 4
  7. Dusty Stalz

    I wouldn’t be caught dead in this. It looks like something a child would draw.

    Like 4
  8. bobhess bobhessMember

    When Don Panoz was at his Sebring office during our race weekends there was usually one of these in the parking lot and one of his race cars in the hotel lobby. The roadsters look much better in person than pictures. I always thought that having 400 plus hp didn’t hurt them either. Those are the factory wheels and I’ve seen wider on some of the cars. Don’t know if they were specially made for the car but it seem I’ve seen them for sale in catalogs etc.

    Like 5
  9. PRA4SNW

    Looks aside, it would be nice to hear from someone who has actually driven one.

    Like 1
  10. Mark

    Anybody who dislikes this car, is a complete blithering idiot & should never be allowed to drive, IMHO. And NO it has NOTHING to do with the Prowler.
    If you want a comparison, try mixing a Cobra with an Ariel Atom.
    If you’d ever get the chance to drive 1, within moments you’d be willing to sell everything to buy it. The Panos AIV Roadster is 1 of the greatest cars I’ve ever driven. It’s like a feather attached to a rocket, all the while feeling safe & comfortable. Is it practical? Of course not, it’s NOT a minivan nor SUV.
    Is it realiable? Nearly bulletproof. It can be taken to any Ford dealer.
    This is the perfect car for old/older guys, no longer able to ride motorcycles & like manual transmissions like me. The only downside to this particular example is it’s coloring. The 1 I drove was dark sapphire blue with grey leather.

    Like 3
    • Dusty Stalz

      Keep in mind Mark that your opinion doesn’t mean anything, and having to resort to name calling just shows where you’re coming from. I still think it’s ugly and wouldn’t be caught dead in it, but wouldn’t knock whoever likes it.

      Like 3
      • Mark

        Hence the reason I added IMHO. In My Humble Opinion.
        I’ve said to people for decades, beauty is in the eye of the beholder & perfection is at best “subjective”.

        Like 1
    • PRA4SNW

      Thanks Mark.
      This is exactly the post I was hoping for, someone who has actually experienced the car.

      Like 2
      • Mark

        You’re welcome. TYVM for your kind reply. And if you found my post “abrasive”, I apologize. If I had the money & were 20-30 years younger, I’d gladly buy a Panoz. It’s truly 1 of the best & most exciting cars I’ve ever had the privilege of driving. Imagine it as a Cobra but 1 that’s comfortable enough to be used as a daily, if you lived in the right climate. Have a Blessed Day :-)

        Like 1
  11. Mark Evans

    I’d certainly like to have it. Seems like a bargain.

    Like 0
  12. chrlsful

    this is more of a form is function, functionally beautiful etc. On the other hand No One can explaine fashion – home style, furnature, hair cuts, clothing, etc. All opinion.
    May B brand new to me, only 2nd time fr that (name & seeing) but probably not (sounds quite familiar). This guy is selling it in atlanta CL as well (out of same address).

    Like 0

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