With the racing ability of the Panoz Esperante GTR-1 and the roar of its V8 engine still unforgotten among enthusiasts, it is only right that it should return. If you recall, the Le Mans Homologation Special was specifically made to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997, among many other races.
This special edition of the Esperante GTR-1 has been restored by Panoz at its Braselton, Ga. headquarters. The restoration process took six months and was finished in October. This makes it the only Le Mans Homologation Special in existence and as such, it wowed audiences at the International Motor Show in Dubai which began on November 10 and concluded on November 14.
The special edition was displayed at Booth No. Z277, Hall ZAB2 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The Esperante GTR-1 was originally designed by Adrian Reynard at the request of Don Panoz who had just started the Panoz Motor Sport Group.
This was the first ever prototype race car to have a front engine after 30 years of motorsports history. During this time, the rules required that in order for a car to compete, it had to be street-legal. With its Ford-based V8 6.0-liter, the Esperante GTR-1 managed to compete in different endurance races between the years 1997 and 2003.
Panoz has always been known for innovation, a reputation that was further cemented when it released the 1998 Panoz Q9 GTR-1 Hybrid. Known by many as Sparky, it was the first hybrid race car. To date, the Esperante GTR-1 has managed to achieve 20 podium finishes with nine class victories and a total of five overall wins.
Though the special edition Esperante GTR-1 was founded on the GTR-1 race car, it was not only street legal but also had its interior in full leather meaning that it can be driven on the streets on occasion. In terms of dimension, the Le Mans Homologation Special was 175 inches (444.5 cm) long and 78 inches (198 cm) wide while weighing 1,980 lbs. (898 kg).
The engine is capable of delivering more than 600 horsepower with maximum torque of 500 lb.-ft. Paired with the engine is the ZF six-speed transaxle. The front portion has Brembo discs with four-pad calipers and an eight-piston. The rear portion has almost the same specification with the exception that it only has the four-piston.
The center-lock OZ Racing wheels measure 18 x 10.5 inches and has the 285/40-R18 tires. For the period that it was not used, this special edition was part of the Braselton’s Panoz collection. This special edition isn’t for sale but there is a way to have your own street-legal Esperante GTR-1. Panoz can make a replica of the Le Mans Homologation Special that is made of either carbon fiber or a composite that is combined with other lightweight components.
We should be thankful that Panoz still has the original tub molds and body. This customizable version comes at a hefty price of $890,000. After all, Panoz has been known for its “Extreme Personalization” program that allows customers to create their own cars.
The Dubai International Motor Show though did not only displayed the Le Mans Homologation Special but also the 25th Anniversary Edition of another Panoz original, the Esperante Spyder GT.
This aluminium-made and two-passenger sports car has a supercharged engine capable of 560 horsepower. While narrower than the Esperante Spyder, it offers more in terms of power. Both of these models however remain exclusive as only 25 units will be manufactured between them.
With the assurance that they will also be hand-built, this makes them all the more special. Since Panoz has always had a preference for a manual gearbox, the V8 engine of the Spyder GT is paired to the close ration but heavy duty Tremec T56 Magnum six-speed manual transmission.
The Spyder GT name also serves another purpose. What this means is that it has an open-cockpit configuration. Furthermore it has a panel that is made from carbon fiber and hides the twin roll hoops. In addition, it has a low-slung windshield frame that is made of carbon fiber but whose tubular steel has been strengthened with A-pillars.
The chassis is made up of aluminium in Superplastic Forming ensuring that it is both light and strong. Combined with a composite body, it is better than prior models though it has a wider body. This is not surprising as Panoz is the first automaker in the U.S. to utilize aluminium panels that have been super formed.
This is the same process that is being used by a few of the top automakers around the world. Panoz is also the first in the U.S. to show an Aluminum Intensive Vehicle with its AIV Roadster. In addition to the standard features, the Esperante Spyder GT can be upgraded to have its exterior be the same as that of the Panoz Esperante GTLM race car, which had won the Le Mans in the past.
It is also possible to upgrade the side exhausts to make it similar to the Panoz Esperante GT2. Other possible upgrades include a front splitter made of carbon fiber, exterior trim, rear diffuser and side skirts. It will also have the Brembo brakes on each of its corners plus 19 x 10.5-inch wheels on the front and 19 x 12-inch on the rear.
Both the Esperante Spyder and the Spyder GT however are only available for ordering and cannot be bought from any dealerships. Panoz assures that the Esperante will be offered as either a convertible or a coupe for both the standard configuration and the GT format.
The Esperante Spyder, Coupe or Convertible, are priced at $179,120. Meanwhile, the starting price for the Esperante Spyder GT, whether it’s the Coupe GT or the Convertible GT, is $204,750.