The Panoz Roadster was designed by Freeman Thomas (currently a designer for Ford) with direction by Dan Panoz. The resulting roadster has been called a cross between an English style sports car from the 40’s and 50’s and an American hot rod in the vein of a track roadster. Various comments by the designers in publications of the time shed light on what they were attempting to accomplish.
Freeman Thomas: “Panoz wanted a look that was neither ‘too vintage’ nor ‘too 90’s’. We wanted to stay away from fads because, for example, things that looked good in 1973 looked stupid in 1976, and we can’t change our model every two years.”
Danny Panoz asked Thomas what a hot-rodder might do with a Morgan, but added that the car had to be able to go over a speed bump.
Danny said “You can take (the Panoz Roadster) to a hot rod meet and it’s a hot rod, or you can take it to an English car meet and they’ll assure you that it’s English.”
In the 40’s and 50’s, English sports cars and American racers and hot rods had some similar features.
Torpedo (cigar or bullet) shaped body
Grill opening without grill
Nudge bar bumpers
Huge rear wheel haunches (Cobra rear look)
English pup-tent top
Plastic side curtain windows
Center dash panel
Center gas cap in back of cockpit
The Shelby Cobra was clearly a major influence, especially from the rear. The torpedo bodied European cars were the major influence in body shape. The Panoz Roadster also had the look of the American track racers and the hotrod Track T. In the styling photo gallery below, you can see some of the features mentioned above.