For Sale: The Original DeltaWing Race Car

The original DeltaWing is for sale. That weirdest and most-phallic of all race cars is posted on with an unlisted price. Few cars have been so divisive in the racing world, since the DeltaWing existed largely outside normal sports car regulations, was the centerpiece of legal battles, and suffered very public teething troubles. But here it is for sale with offers of Panoz support for anybody who takes it racing to its first race.

The principles of Ben Bowlby’s design of the DeltaWing are simple: Less frontal area means less drag and higher top speed and better fuel efficiency at speed. Less weight means better acceleration and the opportunity to use a smaller, lighter, less-powerful, and more efficient engine. It took some time to prove the merits of the design over two design generations of the car—one open-topped car (the one for sale) and a later closed-top prototype—but after Panoz worked out the mechanical kinks, it was indeed as advertised: very fast and efficient.

Unfortunately, chronic gearbox problems sidelined the DeltaWing regularly throughout much of its development. When it at last was running perfectly at the 2016 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the second closed prototype was totaled in a wreck at Turn 1. A third DeltaWing was built and is apparently stored in a museum, but the first DeltaWing that ran with a Nissan engine and Nissan branding—the source of a dragged-out and finally settled lawsuit between Panoz and Nissan—at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That open-topped car, which was built from the tub of a leftover Aston Martin AMR-One, took a couple of big knocks, first being punted out of Le Mans with side-swipe contact from the Toyota LMP1 car and then later getting sent airborne at the 2012 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta by an inattentive Porsche driver. The DeltaWing would do on to finish 5th at Petit Le Mans, however, a remarkable recovery.

The DeltaWing’s legacy seems yet to be written. Bowlby’s outside-the-box thinking led, directly or indirectly, to the development of the ill-fated Nissan GT-R LM Nismo LMP1 car. That alone is a serious knock on Bowlby, but one has to wonder if the DeltaWing’s proven principles of extreme lowered frontal area, light weight, and downsized engine will work its way further into race car design. Check out Bowlby explaining this to Chris Harris in the video above.
We figure it’s been cleaned up since its 2012 crashes, although pictures in the WireWheel ad are few.  Indeed, details on the sale are scarce; it’s mostly the DeltaWing’s Wikipedia page pasted verbatim (down to the sources). Does it come with the Nissan 1.6-liter four-cylinder or the later Elan 1.9-liter engine? What’s in the spares list? I suppose this is a “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” kind of situation. The biggest challenge, one imagines, is finding someone to build the pair of narrow front tires housed in the nose. But again, if that’s a concern of yours, you probably aren’t going to be dropping the serious money required to buy the DeltaWing.
[Source: | Image: Wikimedia]

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8 responses to “For Sale: The Original DeltaWing Race Car”

  1. mdharrell Avatar

    I already turned down the opportunity to purchase the Eco-Fueler American Roadster #001 from a used car lot in North Bend, OR (much to the shock of my wife and my father, both of whom were with me at the time), so I’m good, thanks.

    1. crank_case Avatar

      Were you ill?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I could say something about it being far too new for my taste or perhaps make some comment about the wheels which, despite being from the factory, clash horribly with the vehicle’s, um, aesthetics, but the truth is I’m a cheapskate and the guy wanted way too much for it.

  2. outback_ute Avatar

    The other question is what do you do with it?

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      The dealer is in Vero Beach, which means the car presumably is already in Florida, so go ahead and license it for street use as a Panoz. Or as an Aston Martin. Or as a Nissan. Or as a Chevy. Florida doesn’t much seem to care.

  3. Wayne Moyer Avatar
    Wayne Moyer

    We finally have the prop needed to restart the Austin Powers franchise. We just get him to race it in an F1 race at the beginning of the race. We’ll just paint it pink and have union jacks all over it.

  4. theskitter Avatar

    Half the weight, half the drag, half the horsepower, half the fuel consumption…
    Half the price?