Supercars On A $50,000 Budget: A Cobra-Powered American Roadster That Can Rip Your Face Off


If you've never heard of Panoz, get ready to be surprised.

Everyone knows about the American car company Panoz, right? Don't worry, you're not alone. Panoz is a small sports car company in Georgia that also builds race cars for Le Mans. Panoz is set to release a new model called the Abruzzi, but we thought we would focus on one of its original cars, the Roadster. We found a 1999 Panoz AIV Roadster with only 4,375 miles on it for sale in Illinois. The car is one of 176 ever built and is currently being offered for $49,995. This thing is practically new.

You may think that this Panoz looks a bit like a Plymouth Prowler, but unlike the Prowler this car is powered by a V8 engine. The Panoz utilizes a 4.6-liter V8 that is sourced from an SVT Cobra. With just 2,570 pounds to tote around, this 305- horsepower 32-valve V8 can really rip. With a five-speed manual transmission, the Roadster can hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and top out at 143 mph. This particular Roadster is the later AIV version which stands for Aluminum Intensive Vehicle. The car is made of 70% aluminum material which contributes to its light curb weight. The car was so light, and the SVT power was so prodigious, that Panoz even fitted an air conditioner because it didn't effect performance.

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Obviously, there are some drawbacks to owning a car like the Panoz Roadster. It does come with a roof, but some assembly may be required and the windows need to be zipped up. You never really think of a roof and functioning windows as a luxury feature, but when you don't have them you remember how important they really are. Also, because the front is an open-wheel configuration, driving this car in the rain is probably pretty tricky. Basically, this is more of a weekend car than a daily driver. No wonder why this one barely has over 4,000 miles. Even though this car has its drawbacks, that is what supercars are all about. You think Countach owners didn't endure a bit of misery?

We love this Panoz as a supercar for under $50,000. Not only could it be a great weekend toy, it would be an awesome track-day weapon. No one on the road will expect this little car to pack a powerful V8, and even vintage car guys will love the classic styling. Of course $50,000 could buy you a new Corvette or Mustang, but why go with a boring car that anyone can go into the dealership and buy? You should take a look at this hand-built aluminum supercar, instead.

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