Pick of the Day: 1994 Panoz Roadster

Rare, light, impractical and loads of fun – with genuine motoring history

3
6261

Don Panoz and his son, Dan, had an incredible impact on motoring beginning in the 1990s, and it all began with this particular model car. The Pick of the Day is a 1994 Panoz Roadster offered by a Lebanon, Missouri, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com.

Don Panoz, the son of an Italian immigrant, made his mark on the world with his invention of the transdermal patch; in layman’s terms, the time-release patch used most frequently as a smoking-cessation tool. Panoz never used his own invention, though, smoking his entire life.

In his family’s announcement of his passing in 2018 from pancreatic cancer at age 83, “…he enjoyed his last cigarette and said goodbye to the world in the early hours of the morning, surrounded by his loving family.”

Roadster

But in the early 1990s until the time of his passing, Panoz also made his mark on the world of motoring, when he purchased Road Atlanta, bringing the track back to spec, starting the American Le Mans Series and providing the seed money for his son, Dan’s, formation of Panoz Auto Development. This car, of which only 44 examples were built in a three-year span, began that journey of road and race cars with an exclusive clientele.

RELATED:  Pick of the Day: 1957 Ford Ranchero with tasteful resto-mod upgrades

Panoz

The basis of the car was a deal Dan made with Frank Costin who designed chassis for Maserati, Lotus and Lister, buying the rights to a frame. The Panoz Roadster, ahead of its time in the auto industry but a harbinger of things to come from the Big 3, was a neo-retro design. America’s automakers would take note and follow up with the Plymouth Prowler, the Chevrolet SSR and a revival two-seat Ford Thunderbird.

Interior

The bespoke, hand-built sports car has a fuel-injected Ford 5.0-liter engine under its hood, connected to a Borg-Warner T-5 manual transmission. Many of the car’s components including the brakes were Ford off-the-shelf items. With a curb weight of only 2,570 pounds, the Panoz Roadster is a rocket.

Engine Bay

According to the dealer, “This is documented to be the second of six 1994 models sold to the public and one of the 44 ever manufactured. The Panoz is finished in Ford Emerald Green with a tan leather interior.”

Offered at $55,000 and with only 6,127 miles on the odometer, this would make a great car for any enthusiast as an investment – or just a heap of fun.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Advertisement

3 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, I loved your article on the Panoz Roadster. I worked for Don Panoz and his wife Nancy from 1992 – 1994 at Chateau Elan Resort in Georgia. My career at the Chateau started as their horse and carriage driver.

    From time to time, Don would stop in to talk, ask me if I needed anything, check to see if guests were happy with rides around the vineyard, and inquiring about their horse Perry, making sure he was in tip top shape.

    I have so many fond memories of working for Mr. & Mrs. Panoz.

    I remember all the wonderful wine tasting events that took place, and amazing car shows.

    Later, I took a position in the shofar department, and had the opportunity to test drive a yellow Panoz roadster. What an amazing vehicle.

    I moved back to Ohio in November of 1994, but paid visits to the Chateau a couple times, visiting old friends, and saying hello to Mrs. Panoz.

    I never seen Mr. Panoz again, but he was a good man and is greatly missed!

  2. In about 1995 I had been doing regular product reviews for The Auto Channel for a few years when I met the Panoz PR guy at the Detroit Auto Show. I garnered a commitment to get a little road time with that wonderful little brute but it would need to wait for good weather. Well, that June we met up at the Whitmore Lake exit off US 23 north of Ann Arbor. We spend most of the day along the twisties of the end moraine that defines that area with lunch at the then-famous Dam Site Inn in the quaint village of Hell. The burger bar’s name comes from the site of the adjacent dam that holds back flow into Hell Creek from Bruin Lake. Best burgers in Livingston County. And that wonderful Panoz Roadster was a treat to drive. I most love watching the front fenders bounce along independent of the bonnet. It was sophisticated enough to be civilized but it had the driving dynamics of a powerful sports car. Love to have one in my garage.

  3. Oh, such a thing from America. A Saleen without the baggage and weight. A Lotus/Caterham with a real 5.0/Tremec.
    I am old enough to remember when Panteras were sold at Lincoln Mercury dealers.
    Why couldn’t Ford have promoted these as well?
    I will never have the disposable income to have one of these, yet…
    Sigh.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here