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By Jim Flammang
April 7, 2004
Vehicle Overview Panoz (pronounced “PAY-nose”) doesn’t always change its products on a model-year schedule. But the stylish, rear-wheel-drive two-passenger Esperante gets some major modifications for 2004.
The Georgia-based automaker will offer both a convertible and a coupe for 2004, and a supercharger on the V-8 engine may be installed. A new automatic transmission is available as an option. The 2004 Esperante gets a cupholder and a Rockford Fosgate stereo system with a CD player. Revised suspension geometry includes fabricated tubular control arms. All suspensions now use Dynamic Dampers.
New GT and GTLM coupes and convertibles are available. They’re lighter, leaner, and feature a longer nose and tail than the basic Esperante; Panoz describes the new models as having an “aggressive” rocker treatment. Panoz provides an expanded options list for 2004.
The Esperante’s spring rates were revised in 2003. The entire superstructure is now made of carbon fiber, and the body and chassis are composed of aluminum.
Well known to sports-car enthusiasts and racing fans, Panoz Auto Development came to life early in the 1990s as a low-volume manufacturer of a vehicle called the AIV (aluminum-intensive vehicle) roadster. Production then turned toward a new Esperante luxury roadster that featured such contemporary styling touches as flush oval headlights to lend the overall look of a classic European sports car. In February 2001, the first car was delivered to a customer.
In 2002, Panoz issued the first of a series of limited editions; each commemorated a Panoz Motorsports team driver. The first was the Magnussen Edition, followed late in the year by Panoz’s first coupe, the David Brabham Edition; it was equipped with a 390-horsepower supercharged engine.
Exterior 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 shaped by a superplastic forming process that was adapted from the aerospace industry. Panoz says this method produces stronger body panels that are more dent-resistant and accept paint more effectively.
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 top of the rear deck. The Esperante has a fully independent suspension, all-disc brakes and 17-inch Michelin tires on aluminum wheels. Built on a 106-inch wheelbase, it measures 176.3 inches long overall and stands 53.4 inches tall. Each car can be hand-painted to customer specifications.
Buyers can choose BBS or Panoz custom alloy wheels with Michelin tire packages, as well as Brembo brakes and custom-fitted luggage.
Interior Two handsewn leather bucket seats and wood trim are used in the interior. All of the gauges are positioned in the center of the dashboard rather than mounted in front of the driver. Standard features include a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power windows, remote keyless entry and variable intermittent wipers. Cargo capacity is 11.6 cubic feet.
Under the Hood Ford supplies the hand-assembled, 4.6-liter, dual-overhead-cam V-8 engine, which produces 320 hp and 315 pounds-feet of torque. A supercharger can be installed for additional power. The engine teams with a Tremec five-speed-manual transmission or the new automatic. A six-speed gearbox is available for the GT and GTLM versions. Esperantes can be serviced at Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships or by nearly 50 Panoz dealerships in the United States.
A limited-slip differential is standard. Panoz claims the Esperante can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 5.1 seconds, reach 100 mph in 12.6 seconds and run a quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds at 103.5 mph.
Safety Antilock brakes are standard. The traction control system has a deactivation switch.