- RM Sothebys 2020

An open-top sports car weighing just 2570lbs (1166kg) with a glorious V8 sounds like the ultimate recipe for a Sunday drive, and it is. The Panoz Roadster's journey begins all the way back in 1992 at the hands of father and son duo, Don and Dan Panoz; founders of the legendary American manufacturer, Panoz.

The original Roadster had a chassis composed of stainless steel and underwent vigorous testing to be certified for the US market. Panoz felt they could do even better in the performance department, and so in 1994 they developed a 70%-aluminium chassis for the Roadster, creating the AIV (aluminium intensive vehicle) Roadster.

RM Sothebys 2020

RM Sothebys 2020

It features a Cobra V8 and a manual transmission

The Roadster was only ever offered with a 5-speed Borg-Warner manual transmission; no automatics here. The original steel-based roadster used a Ford 5.0L V8 but Panoz state that its exhaust note would "drown out the sound of the radio". Anyway, the newer AIV Roadster uses the Mustang SVT Cobra's 4.6L V8 that allowed for a 100hp power increase up to 305bhp. Torque rests at a cool 300lb-ft (410Nm), all of which allows for 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds and onto a top speed of 140mph (225kmh). The car also featured bigger brakes, a longer wheelbase and a new independent suspension. None of this beats the addition of air conditioning and a soft top roof which were previously not included.

RM Sothebys 2020

RM Sothebys 2020

It is ultra-sleek but is it stylish?

You may have noticed that the AIV Roadster looks a tad similar to another lightweight sports car, the Plymouth Prowler. They were both built using similar chassises hence the design similarities. Everything about the exterior design screams 1990s, from the round lights to the dark gray cladding on the rear wheel arches. The flowing curved bodywork is somewhat abruptly disturbed by the front and rear bullbars, which I suspect were mandatory due to US regulations. Or perhaps they were there just to prevent minor dings from low-speed collisions, who knows?

RM Sothebys 2020

RM Sothebys 2020

The interior is compact but is it quirky?

Panoz claim the cramped cabin size was increased in the AIV Roadster but it's still a tad on the cozy side. Needless to say, there are no cupholders or usable storage areas. You do get leather seats, carpeted floormats and a stereo though. The instrument cluster is offset and located at the top of the centre tower, not an ideal location but it's ever so slightly tilted towards the driver. Those airvents look familiar, don't they? That's because they're straight out of a Ford Mustang. Overall, the cabin is still elegant due to the lack of switchgear and gimmicks. It all just works... until you need to put the windows up or down.

RM Sothebys 2020

RM Sothebys 2020

What is the present market value?

You are looking at between $30-40,000 USD for an AIV Roadster in good shape, or a nudge above $45,000 for a low-milage example. The vehicle showcased throughout the article will be up for bidding at RM Sotheby's Arizona auction from the 16th-17th of January. As it only has 300 miles on the clock and is one of 176 AIV Roadsters produced, the expected price is between $60-80,000. There is no reserve value.

RM Sothebys 2020

RM Sothebys 2020

Would you bid on an AIV Roadster if you had the money?

Thanks for reading and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

You can access the listing below and read more about the Roadster's history below that.

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