I’ve been a fan of Don Panoz for years. It takes major huevos to not only launch your own car company, but to campaign your cars in endurance racing and win. Did I mention that he’s the founding father of the American LeMans series as well?
I’ve always liked the Panoz Esperante, which looks like a cross between a Ferrari California, A BMW Z8 and a Jaguar XK. Powered by a Ford V8, it’s easy enough to get serviced (or wrench on yourself), but the boutique automaker pricetag keeps it out of my league. I’m not so sure about the styling of the new, limited production Panoz Abruzzi “Spirit of LeMans”, though.
Built to commemorate the legendary endurance race, the Abruzzi “Sprit of LeMans” certainly can’t be accused of conservative styling. Only 81 copies will be built, one for each year the LeMans race has been run until production of the Abruzzi ends in 2013.
The car will sport a front engine, rear transaxle layout with rear mounted radiators. Although not named in the press release, it’s likely that Ford will continue to supply motors for the Abruzzi, and the specifications call for over 600 horsepower and 590 foot-pounds of torque. Panoz states that the car will be road legal in Europe, most of Asia, the Middle East and China, but the U.S.A seems to be omitted from that list.
If you’ve got the coin and the place to drive it, buying an Abruzzi isn’t as simple as walking into a Panoz dealer. All deliveries will take place at the Circuit de la Sarthe, and buyers will be tutored by professional racers on the Bugatti Circuit at LeMans. Included in the (yet to be named) purchase price is a guest of honor package at an upcoming LeMans race, where Abruzzi owners can drive a parade lap of the 8.3 mile circuit. Owners can then kick back in comfort, sucking down escargot and Moet on Panoz’s tab as the race unfolds.
The new Abruzzi certainly isn’t my cup of meat, but I still wouldn’t mind having an Esperante in the garage. Maybe it’s time to go buy some Powerball tickets.