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By Jim Flammang
April 15, 2005
Vehicle Overview 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 gets several modifications for 2005. Coupes and convertibles are available in base, GT and GTLM trim levels.
A new rear subframe was introduced in 2004 with the supercharged GTLM edition. For 2005, it's standard on all Esperantes, lowering mass while increasing rigidity. The GTLM can now have polished or painted 18-inch wheels. GT and base models can be equipped with 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels in new styles. The normally aspirated 4.6-liter V-8 has been retuned to develop more torque at lower rpm. The final rear gear ratio also was revised.
Wood, carbon fiber and billet interior accent packages and two new Blaupunkt sound systems are now available.
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.
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, 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 atop 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 RK 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.
Interior Two handsewn leather bucket seats are installed. 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 at 5,800 rpm and 320 pounds-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm 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 teams exclusively with a six-speed-manual gearbox. Esperantes can be serviced at Ford or Panoz dealerships.
A limited-slip differential is standard. Panoz claims 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 accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds.
Safety Antilock brakes are standard. The traction control system has a deactivation switch.