The Panoz Esperante was the Corvette competitor that Ford never built. The American-made two-seat sports car uses a Mustang drivetrain, firewall, Cobra independent rear suspension, brakes, and gauges with a European-grade luxury interior. That interior is gone, as is the excellent Mustang drivetrain. The former is replaced by a fire supression system and twin Recaros. The latter, by a supercharged LS-series V8. Consider it Daniel Craig’s take on James Bond: an Ivy League graduate who’s just looking for a good, old-fashioned bar brawl. Find this 1998 Panoz Esperante racer for sale in Jefferson, GA for $21,000 via craigslist.
Yes, this Panoz has traded its 4.6l modular ford engine for a blown crate motor from the other guys. It is at this point where most people would weigh the virtues of the two power plants. I’ll offer one insight, and then let someone else pick up the fight in the comments: Panoz offered its own supercharged 4.6-liter engine from the factory as part of the GTLM package. It produced 420 horsepower. Here, in the 6.2-liter LS3, horsepower leaps to 605 on just 5.5psi. What is it they say about a replacement for displacement?
In full trim, base Esperante models weighed 3,200 lbs, thanks to key use of aluminum in the chassis. Steel-frame GTS racing variants had a curb weight of 2,772 pounds, and were required to weigh at least 2,880 by the SCCA for GT2 classification. Expect a similar figure for this version, race-ready with a fiberglass body and window nets.
Panoz continue to rack up plenty of motorsports experience in various racing series around the world. There’s plenty of support for Panoz-specific parts and issues, plus the host of Ford (and now, Chevy) parts used throughout the car. Besides consumables, keeping it on the track should be cheap for the first few seasons. This one has been for sale around different circles since August or earlier, and could probably be picked up for much less than the asking price. With no hope of converting it back to road use, its fate is secure: hunting down Corvettes, Mustangs, and Porsches at track days for years to come.
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