Similarity is bound to occur in an industry where most of the products follow the same basic formula. But once in a while a new design comes along that doesn't quite reinvent the wheel, but comes pretty damn close. The DeltaWing project was one such design – and Nissan, the car's designers allege, stole that design.

Nissan ZEOD RCAfter the DeltaWing proposal was rejected by the IndyCar series, its creators took it to Le Mans and brought Nissan on board to supply the power. Nissan subsequently pulled out of the program and came out with the ZEOD RC hybrid racer (right), bearing a suspiciously similar design with an unusually narrow front track at the end of a long nose cone, and a wider track at the back. The Japanese automaker then displayed the BladeGlider concept (below, right) at the Tokyo Motor Show, envisioning a translation of the same formula into road-going form.

The similarity did not escape Don Panoz, who – after making sports and racing cars under his own name and founding the now-defunct American Le Mans Series – was a central figure in bringing the original DeltaWing to life. Now Panoz has filed a lawsuit against Nissan, soliciting the courts to issue a cease-and-desist order on both the ZEOD RC and BladeGlider projects, naming Nissan motorsport chief Darren Cox and Ben Bowlby (who defected to Nissan from the DeltaWing program) as part of the suit.

Nissan BladeGlider ConceptWhether the courts side with Panoz's claim over intellectual property rights related to the design remains to be seen, but it's clear Panoz has big plans for the DeltaWing project beyond racing. Now retired from the pharmaceutical industry where he made his millions and with ALMS now merged into the new United SportsCar Championship, Panoz has started Delta Wing Technologies, hired Bridgestone's former motorsport director Al Speyer to run it, and has two designs – one for a two-seat roadster and the other for a four-door family sedan – in the cooker. One thing's for sure: we haven't seen the last of this debate, or this design.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      Hek!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ben Bowlby, who now works at Nissan, was the designer of the original DeltaWing. It was his idea. I guess he must have sold/signed away the rights to his idea somewhere along the line. If he didn't Panoz does not have a leg to stand on.
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Hek!
        Just speculating. If Bowlby worked for the Delta Wing company when the idea was developed, then the company owns the idea, not Bowlby.
      Eggshen
      • 1 Year Ago
      The only people who will win in this argument are the lawyers.
      mitytitywhitey
      • 1 Year Ago
      I agree Nissan has developed a similar car - that much is obvious. But I thought the point of the DW was to demonstrate how LMP cars could save fuel... which would imply the whole field of LMP cars would eventually take up this design. Was Panoz hoping to supply cars to all teams? I assume so, if he's not in favor of Nissan having a narrow-front car.
      JB
      • 1 Year Ago
      Can someone explain to me how having such a narrow front track NOT a bad design?
        edward.stallings
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JB
        It is a great design for driving into the rear of the bagelmobile.
        fordskydog
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JB
        Yes, and they have. There is a thing called an internet to help you. Hey look, you've already stumbled on it! search youtube for deltawing and chris harris. Test drive and interview with tech dude.
          edward.stallings
          • 1 Year Ago
          @fordskydog
          That does not answer the question. Narrow track at either end is bad design. You do not seem to have the technical ability to discuss it. You do seem good at stooping to name calling and insults. - always handy when mentally challenged.
        JB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JB
        Looks like this car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crLIKf03u1I
      edward.stallings
      • 1 Year Ago
      Panoz probably realized this is a loser design and the only way to recover funds is to sue Nissan. Who at Nissan was stupid enough to do this? This is an idiot design that needs special rules to be competitive, it looks like the Ambiguously Gay Duo car from Saturday Night Live, has all the negative attributes of a 3 wheeler and all the baggage of a 4 wheeled car. The whole saga does have some entertainment value! Ha!
        EVnerdGene
        • 1 Year Ago
        @edward.stallings
        Every time I read something about Panoz, or see something he's built; his reputation slips another notch.
        Dave D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @edward.stallings
        edward, you really need to go ahead and come out of the closet. You're obsession with all things phallic shaped and anything you can label gay is really obvious.
          Dave D
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave D
          Nah, I just can't stand how negative you always are about any type of advanced tech if it's in any way electrified. You're hang up with phallic objects comes up every time someone writes an article about any delta wing so I was just wondering what you had to cover up. LOL
          edward.stallings
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dave D
          Apparently you are the one obsessed with it and you are upset that I used a gay reference in a negative way. I hate it, but not only because of its shape, but because it is a bad design that needs special rules to compete, a sophisticated differential to make it driveable, and will not support high power levels due to extreme rear bias in weight distribution, among other things. Very telling that you want to personally attack me rather than argue in favor of the Deltawing.
      Jm
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nissan should go **** themselves. I can't believe this car is allowed TO RUN after they **** on Don Panoz? Surprised he didn't get them blocked from racing.
      mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Telling Asians to respect patents is like telling a Feral cat to let go of a rat.
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mbukukanyau
        First china. Now we're stereotyping the whole continent? I didn't get that memo. So we're to include all of Asia, or just those who look different? What about Russia?
          edward.stallings
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          He really meant oriental, not asian.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @BipDBo
          "He really meant oriental, not asian." So he does intend to say, "those who look differently."
      Pininfarina
      • 1 Year Ago
      What's interesting to me is the article mentioned nothing of Ben Bowlby, who was the principle designer of the Delta Wing project, who now works at Nissan as the Director of Motorsport Innovation. Did Don Panoz come up with the idea of the Delta Wing? No~ Bowlby did. I am with Nissan and Bowlby on this one.
        fordskydog
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Pininfarina
        I am with Bowlby only. I hope he still has intellectual property rights but he probably doesn't.
        edward.stallings
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Pininfarina
        Ben Bowlby deserves a salesmanship medal for selling this idiot idea to multiple groups who should know better. His main talent must be hypnosis.
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @edward.stallings
          we're on the same wavelength - again
      Shiftright
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dick move by Nissan
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I side with DeltaWing on this one. This was blatant and sad, especially to any small inventor with a dream. Nissan looks like the big bully who took a little kid's lunch money and said "What are you going to do about it!?" It looks like Panoz did the only he could. He ran and told the teacher.
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        More like Panoz took Nissan's money and ran with it. There's more to this partner breakup than we'll ever figure out on this blog.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          You apparently know more than I. I would like to hear Nissan's side of this story. I should be careful, though, what I wish for. I have a feeling that we are in the long haul to hear every argument and analysis and speculation of every rebuttal ad-nausium.
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          @bipdbo, there is more to this story than you know, as i get it Ben actual design the car before he went to work with this company, the question is did he have some other waiver or something before panoz?
      SloopJohnB
      • 1 Year Ago
      What a pile. If I were on the jury I wouldn't gig Nissan. It's a car with four wheels….it's like Ford suing Oldsfor bringing out a 4 wheel car! Many different front/back systems have been tried; I recall a six wheel F1 car a few years backs…two axles with small wheels up front and big ones in the back. If they don't work no one will complain…Panoz is just a crybaby. Besides, he took Nissan's yen, right?
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
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