Georgia On My Mind Edition


Founded in 1989, Panoz Auto Development is the brainchild of Dan Panoz. With the help of his father Don, they formed a racing team which builds their own cars and happens to produce a few for the street.
One of those models is the Panoz Esperante seen above. I have spied this car running around Huntington Beach for the last few years but I finally had my camera sitting shotgun. I have always noticed the car but this was the first time I noticed the license plate. I wouldn’t go as far to advertise that this car has brute force. However, it does provide fun in the from a 302 hp 4.6L V8 engine. Per the Panoz website, this car will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a hair over 5 seconds. Not too shabby. More exciting than the performance numbers however is the fact that you can drive a stylish sportscar which is produced in low numbers, right here in the USA. Panoz is based Hoschton, Georgia. Besides the car company, Panoz also owns Road Atlanta…that’s right he OWNS an amazing race track that is home to such great races as Petit Le Mans.

20 Comments

  1. If you've got Brut Force, it's probably time to cut back on the cologne. But since this guy drives a convertible, do you think he can tell he's got a problem?

  2. That LP would be acceptable on a Viper, SLR McLaren (which looks like a G'd up Viper, but whatever), or any number of twin turb Porsches. On a Panoz powered by a DOHC 4.6 Mustang engine, notsomuch. Thanks for playing, buh-bye now.

  3. I've always had a soft spot for Panoz. I've also been really curious about their history, and how they came to be sold here. Were they fully federalized, with EPA compliance, crash testing, etc? If so, it's really impressive that a small company could do so and sell the cars at their price point while still turning a profit. That last point might be key to why they don't continue to sell them.

    1. Very wealthy people own the company… Its basically an excuse to supplement some cash for their race team.

    2. Panoz is the American version of Ferrari. Their passion is racing, but they sell customer cars to feed their racing addiction. It's a cool story, though.

      1. Their passion *was* racing, but now their passion seems to be collecting sanction fees and changing series rules for no reason whatsoever. The replacement for the Esperante, called Abruzzi, will be designed and built by Prototype Technology Group in Virginia, after which point what's left of the Panoz group (most of them got walking papers last year) will put out just enough road cars to satisfy homologation requirements.
        The mighty have truly fallen.

        1. I didn't realize they owned Sebring and Mosport, too. It seems maybe they've been sidetracked by running ALMS and race tracks and have lost their first love.

    3. I believe that if you sell under a certain number of cars annually, you do not have to meat crash regulations, such as Airbags and side markers etc. Emissions, I'm not quite sure, but since it's a ford engine, it shouldn't be too hard to make it meet emissions. This was actually talked about on CarCast this past weekend.

      1. I am pretty sure we don't get an exception like that in the US. I can't be certain, though! But that's why cars like the Atom, Ultima, and such are sold as a kit (sans drivetrain) if you want to title them for street use. You have to title it as a "self built" car, as an individual and not as a company, in order to get around the DOT crash test requirements. And those are really expensive to meet! But I would love to find out that isn't the case.
        You're right on the ford engine, it wouldn't be too hard to meet emissions with that.

    4. I've had a few friends of friends that worked there. Even got a chance to tour the "factory". Basically, Dan, the son, wanted to start building someone else's copy of a Seven. At some point Daddy Don got involved. Don decided to go racing. Don now owns Road Atlanta, Sebring (long-term lease), Mosport, IMSA, and ALMS (the sanctioning body). Don holds the patents for trans-dermal drug patches (like the nicotine patch) and has more money than he knows what to do with. I don't think Dan has ever worried about turning a profit. Other than a few custom chassis and body components, I would guess at least 75% of the parts are these cars are raided from a larger corporation's parts bin (in the past Ford). These cars are closer to a Superformance Cobra than a Ferrari. Don bought Dallaraha to run the race side of things a few years ago.

      1. Talk about an awesome resource (the funds from the patent). Now he gets to live the dream and doesn't have to worry about the money! It's impressive that he got where he is without his desire for crazy car stuff getting crushed.

  4. The Panoz story is pretty cool and if you ever get a chance to read up on them or watch a documentary about them, do it.
    The styling of their cars is sometimes a little off, but you can't call them bland. On the other hand, they had the cajones to compete at Le Mans and in GT racing with a front-mid engine layout, as opposed to their competition's more elegant rear-mid layout.

    1. Certainly better than the Esperante, but I'm still not too sure whether I would call it attractive though. Maybe they should have just bought some moulds from TVR and have some crazy-arsed designs that are attractive.

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