Luxury Autos: It's easy to find a pick-up truck or SUV if you want to buy American but a true sports car is more elusive. One car maker has recently come under detection--surprisingly, it's a small, suburban Atlanta-based sports and racecar builder.
Founded in 1989, Panoz Auto Development Company caters to a select clientele of wealthy automotive enthusiasts. Its first car was the Roadster, with their current model, the Esperante, launching in 2001. The rear-wheel-drive Esperante was designed to have the power and agility of an exotic sports car, but with the practicality and comfort of a vehicle that's driven daily. A high-performance GT version was added to the Panoz line, as well as a convertible GTLM model in 2004, featuring a more powerful engine and aggressive bumpers and side skirts. A Trans Am racing version is also available. For 2005, the new rear sub-frame that was introduced on the GTLM last year was added to all Esperante versions, which is meant to reduce mass while increasing stiffness, translating into improved performance with less noise, vibration and harshness.
The car rides on a fully independent double-wishbone suspension with gas-charged aluminum coil-over Dynamic Dampers and a one-inch tubular anti-roll bar. Panoz has tuned the all-aluminum 4.6-liter V8 engine in standard and GT versions to generate added torque at lower engine speeds (rpm). The motor now roars with 305 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 320 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm, which help this no-nonsense sports car reach 62 mph in 5.1 seconds.
Comparable sports cars include
the Dodge Viper, Maserati Coupe, Acura NSX, Mercedes-Benz SL500, and the Porsche 911 Carrera GT3. Regardless of the model you choose, Panoz is the ultimate sport scar for the all-American auto enthusiast for whom exclusivity and performance matter above all else.
For LxM Amy Covington
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