Panoz: An American Sports Car Manufacturer

Let’s imagine for a minute that you are a businessman who has reached middle age. You have worked hard for everything you have earned and done well for yourself. Now it’s time to have a little fun.

You’re in the market for a sports car and you want to Buy American instead of giving your money to the Italians, the Germans, or the Japanese. Also, you want a car that stands out from the crowd of Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers. In this case, you should take a look at the Panoz Auto Development Company.

Panoz is an American car manufacturer based in Hoschton, Georgia. They have been building high performance vehicles for enthusiasts since 1989. It was only recently that I heard about the company, and now I’ve spotted two different vehicles at various car shows around town!

The Panoz AIV Roadster was unveiled in 1996. Though it looks like a kit car, it was actually a production vehicle. This street legal beast did not come with a roof, heater, air conditioner, or an automatic transmission. It was a pure, no-frills driving machine. According to Wikipedia, the company produced less than 180 of these vehicles – a rarity, indeed!

The AIV in AIV Roadster stands for Aluminum-Intensive Vehicle. The car’s chassis is 70% aluminum, making it the first car of its type produced in America. This gives the car great strength while maintaining a light weight.

In keeping with the aluminum theme, the car features an all-aluminum 4.6L DOHC 32-valve V8 engine from the Ford Mustang SVT Cobra. With 305 horsepower, this little two seater could rocket from 0-60mph in just 4.3 seconds!

While the AIV Roadster was awesome, Panoz raised their own bar even higher with their next project: the Esperante. This project would take everything good about the Roadster and make it more suitable for everyday driving.

Esperante is a word that means “hope” or “spirit.” It is a hand-built sports car that is available in several different configurations, one of which is an SCCA-legal race car complete with roll cage!

While the base model uses the same engine from the roadster, the GTLM version features a supercharger that bumps the horsepower up from 305 to 420 ponies.

Base models start at $92,256 for the convertible and $98,229 for the coupe. A top-of-the-line touring model will set you back around $128,319 depending on the options. Unlike the Roadster, the Esperante is available with an optional automatic transmission, air conditioning, and a roof. You can even opt for heated powered seats!

Even with its extra comforts, the Panoz Esperante is no slouch. It zips from 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. At the drag strip, it will run a surprisingly quick 13.7 second quarter mile time.

If you’re in the market for something that’s fast, American-made, and most of all unique, I would have to recommend that you check out Panoz for yourself.