Based in Georgia, Panoz (pronounced "PAY-nose") doesn't always change its products on a model-year schedule. But the hot-performing, rear-wheel-drive two-passenger Esperante received several modifications for 2005, including new wheel choices, interior accent packages and sound systems. Coupes and convertibles are available in base, GT and GTLM trim levels.
For 2006, chassis refinements are meant to improve ride and handling. Carbon fiber side vents now are standard, and new wheel styles are offered. Well known to sports-car enthusiasts and racing fans, Panoz Auto Development commenced business early in the 1990s. Production soon turned toward the Esperante roadster. In February 2001, the first car was delivered.
Exhibiting classic sports-car styling, the Esperante features elegant flowing lines and a long-hood/short-deck profile. Mounted to a modular aluminum chassis are aluminum body panels, which are shaped by a forming process that was adapted from the aerospace industry. Panoz says this method produces stronger body panels that are more dent-resistant.
The front section of the convertible top is made of aluminum, while the rear is handsewn canvas. The pieces are hinged in the middle, so the top lies flat on the rear deck. Esperantes have a fully independent suspension and all-disc brakes. Each car can be hand painted to customer specifications.
Standard equipment on the GTLM includes 18-inch aluminum BBS wheels and dual-piston aluminum PBR brake calipers with Brembo vented rotors. GT and GTLM coupes and convertibles feature a longer nose and tail than the base Esperante.
Two leather bucket seats are installed, and there are new color choices and optional contrasting stitching for 2006. All gauges are positioned in the center of the dashboard. Standard features include a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, remote keyless entry and variable intermittent wipers.
Under the Hood
Ford supplies the hand-assembled, 4.6-liter V-8, which produces 305 horsepower and 320 pounds-feet of torque in base and GT Esperantes. The engine teams with a Tremec five-speed-manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. In the GTLM, a supercharged 4.6-liter V-8 generates 420 hp and works exclusively with a six-speed-manual gearbox. Esperantes can be serviced at Ford or Panoz dealerships.
A limited-slip differential is standard. Panoz says the Esperante GT can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds and run a quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds at 107.3 mph. The GTLM can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds.
Antilock brakes are standard. The traction control system has a deactivation switch.