In 1989, American entrepreneur Don Panoz and his son Dan established Panoz Auto Development. Their inaugural production, the Roadster, hit the market in 1992. Seeking inspiration for an exhilarating open-road vehicle in the early 1990s, Panoz acquired the rights to TMC Costin, an Irish sports car company.
Freeman Thomas was enlisted to create a new aluminum body around the frame, utilizing a Mustang drivetrain. Although originally intended to follow the TMC Costin’s frame design, early-production Roadsters featured stainless-steel tube frames. The fusion of a rigid, lightweight chassis and Mustang running gear contributed to the Roadster’s reputation as an exceptionally enjoyable sports car.
In 1994, the upgraded AIV Roadster debuted, boasting a fully aluminum chassis that substantially reduced weight and enhanced performance. Further enhancements occurred in 1996, with the integration of the Mustang SVT Cobra all-aluminum V-8 engine. Generating 305 hp and maintaining a weight of around 2,500 pounds, the SVT engine delivered impressive performance metrics. The Panoz Roadster’s production was limited to 176 units, concluding in 2000 when the Panoz Esperante took its place.