Panther Solo

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Panther Solo
Panther Solo (10969915873).jpg
ManufacturerPanther Car Company
Production1989 - 1990
between 12 and 25 produced
AssemblyWeybridge, England
DesignerRobert Jankel
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupé
2-door 2+2
LayoutRMR layout / RM4 layout
Wheelbase99.6 in (2,530 mm)
Length171.0 in (4,343 mm)
Width70.1 in (1,781 mm)
Height46.5 in (1,181 mm)
Curb weight2,954 lb (1,340 kg)

The Panther Solo is a mid-engined sports car that was made by the British company Panther Car Company. It was available as a two-seat coupé, with the option of additional rear seats to make it a 2+2. SsangYong Motor Company, which had become the owner of Panther Westwinds, made a concept car called the SsangYong Solo 3 as a tribute to the original Solo and Solo 2,[1] as well as a racing version called the SsangYong Solo Le Mans.[2]

Solo 1[edit]

The first Solo, the Solo 1, was a simple mid-engined rear wheel drive car. It had a Ford 1.6 CVH Engine (as fitted in the Ford Fiesta XR2) and was designed as a replacement for the marque's volume model, the Panther Kallista. The car used relatively simple technology, had contemporary styling and was clad in a fibreglass body in order to save weight. However, Toyota launched its second generation MR2 around the same time and the Solo was unable to compete with this Japanese rival.

The South Korean original owner of Panther, Y. C. Kim, made the decision to amend the Solo after taking a vacation in Guam where he saw one of the early MR2s. A new styling design for the Solo was created by Ken Greenley of the London RCA vehicle styling school. The restyled car featured a slightly larger 2+2 layout with a composite upper body, permanent four wheel drive and a mid-mounted engine from a Ford Sierra Cosworth. This would be called the "Solo 2". The body engineering designers involved were Martin Freestone (composites), Keith Hunter (underbody and structure) and William "Bill" Davies (details).

Solo 2[edit]

The Solo 2 used the Ford Sierra RS[3] 1,993 cc (121.6 cu in) engine with twice the horsepower of the Solo 1.[3] It was mated to the Borg-Warner T-5 (same as in the RS),[4] which drove a Ferguson four-wheel drive system modified by Panther to use XR4x4 components, including both differentials.[4] The company decided also to stretch the wheelbase to accommodate 2+2 seating,[3] which was partly done by ex-Ford Europe engineers who had worked on the Sierra Cosworth and XR4x4.[5] March did the aerodynamics, producing a Cd of 0.33,[6] as well as producing the composite construction, encouraged by March chairman Robin Herd.[6] One of the development cars had a twin turbo setup due to the known turbo lag issues.

A troublesome area was with the 4 wheel drive transfer box. This was a custom made part, the internals were chain-driven and the chains had a propensity for self-destruction under heavy engine load.

The lower body of the Solo 2 was a space frame[6] made primarily of steel with the upper body being made from aluminium honeycomb sandwiched between multiple sheets of impregnated glass fibre bonded with epoxy. The upper body was to be glued using an aerospace adhesive to the lower chassis.[6] No rollbar was needed.[6] Suspension used Escort struts in front, while the disc brakes were fitted with Scorpio-derived ABS.[4]

It is not known exactly how many vehicles were built (believed to have been between 12 and 25), as sometimes Panther would change the chassis number of prototype cars. All but three Solos were sold to the public, two were destroyed and one is still owned by the owner of Panther. One vehicle was written off by a motoring journalist who walked away unhurt from the wreckage.

As of 2011, eight examples survive in the UK, but all are listed as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification, to legally notify the government that the vehicle will not be driven on public roads), with the last licensed example registered until 2010.[7]


Chassis Number Colour Owner Country Registration Number
012 Blue - South Korea F59SWC
013 Crash test vehicle
014 Red Y C Kim, passed on to his son South Korea G846 WEV
015 Silver Andie Wills United Kingdom D15 OLO (formerly G521 FNO)
016 Red - South Korea -
017 Red Scott McDonagh - -
018 Red Stephen Allan Vine United Kingdom G308 XAR (formerly SPC 21)
019 Metallic Red Bruno Eismark United Kingdom G307XAR (formerly RT 40)
020 No car produced
021 No car produced
022 Metallic Blue Jamie MacRae - G99 EDA
023 Red Vince Jones - H736 HEV
024 Metallic Green David Carter United Kingdom H732 HEV
025 Yellow - Japan G559VYW
026 Red Adrian Brown United Kingdom D5 OLO (formerly H731 HEV)
027 Metallic Silver Robin Tracy United Kingdom BNZ 5010 (formerly 11 JKP)
028 Green Kenny Rogers Spain H733 HEV
029 Red - California, USA -
030 Metallic Red Johnathan Wootton United Kingdom H75 OLO
031 Red George Forrest - H734 HEV
032 Grey - South Korea -

Sources and further reading[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Archived 20 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ [2] Archived 17 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c Hutton, Ray. "Preview: Panther Solo 2", in Car and Driver, 1/88, p.125.
  4. ^ a b c Hutton, p.127.
  5. ^ Hutton, pp.125-6.
  6. ^ a b c d e Hutton, p.126.
  7. ^ Olly Smith. "PANTHER SOLO - How Many Left?". Retrieved 3 December 2011.
  8. ^ [3] Archived 7 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  • Hutton, Ray (January 1988). Sherman, Don (ed.). "Preview: Panther Solo 2". Car and Driver. Ann Arbor, MI USA: Diamandis Communications. 33 (7): 125–128. ISSN 0008-6002.