Based in Georgia, Panoz (pronounced "PAY-nose") doesn't always change its products on a model-year schedule. The hot-performing, rear-wheel-drive two-passenger Esperante last received substantial modifications for 2005, including new wheel choices, interior accent packages and sound systems. For 2008, the supercharged GTLM model gets a new engine and restyled interior as well as minor front and rear styling changes.
Base and GT convertibles are available, while the supercharged GTLM can be ordered as a coupe or convertible.
Well known to sports-car enthusiasts and racing fans, Panoz Auto Development started 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 hand-sewn 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. Base and GT models receive 17-inch wheels and the same brake hardware. GT and GTLM coupes and convertibles feature a longer nose and tail than the base Esperante.
Leather bucket seats can be ordered in varying colors with contrasting stitching. 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 a hand-assembled 4.6-liter V-8 that 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 new supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 generates 500-plus hp and works exclusively with a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox.
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 includes a deactivation switch.