Panoz Roadster Registry

Superform Body Panel

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Superform Metals
The Superform Metals Company built all the aluminum body panels for the Panoz Roadster. The unique process for making these is called superplastic forming (SPF). Superform Metals is the world’s leading manufacturer of SPF components. Founded in 1974 specifically to serve the aerospace industry, Superform still makes parts for commercial and military aircraft. They have headquarters in England and the U.S. In 1985, a factory was established in Riverside California. I was given a tour through the facility by general manager Mike Reynolds (owner of a 1998 Roadster). He explained the process and allowed me to photograph how body panels are made. SPF is a hot forming process in which a sheet of superplastic grade aluminum alloy is heated to about 900 degrees and forced over or onto a single surface tool using high air pressure. The advantage of hot forming is that formed components exhibit no “spring back” or residual stresses commonly associated with cold working fabrication processes. Form tools can be either ferrous or aluminum and require little or no maintenance during the production life of the build. Superform parts are found on the F-18, Boeing 777, Saab 2000, Airbus, BAe Hawk, Tomahawk missile and many other planes, helicopters and weapon systems. Superform started in the automotive area making parts for Aston Martin. Today, in addition to that company, they make body panels and other parts for the Panoz Esperante, Ford GT, the new Rolls Royce Corniche, Bentley Arnage S2, Morgan Aero 8 and Lamborghini Gallardo. The Panoz Roadster was an early innovative use of aluminum in body panel construction.