The Panoz Esperante GTR-1 thundered its way into race fans’ memories with its cacophonous V8 roar and blistering pace on the world’s sports car endurance racing circuits. Today an important part of the GTR-1’s history returns – the original street-legal 1997 Panoz Esperante GTR-1 Le Mans Homologation Special that was created so the iconic front-engine Esperante GTR-1 race car could compete in the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans and other endurance racing events.
Panoz completed the Esperante GTR-1 Le Mans Homologation Special’s six-month restoration at its headquarters in Braselton, Ga. in October. This only remaining Esperante GTR-1 Le Mans Homologation Special is the brand’s featured exhibit at the Dubai International Motor Show. Panoz fans can see it November 10-14 in Booth No. Z277, Hall ZAB2 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
When entrepreneur Don Panoz commissioned racecar designer Adrian Reynard to create the Esperante GTR-1 for his newly founded Panoz Motor Sport Group, it was the first front-engine prototype race car in more than 30 years of motorsports. Rules required homologation – building street-legal versions – in order to compete.
The Panoz Esperante GTR-1 with its 6.0-liter Ford-based V8 engine competed in international endurance racing in various forms from 1997 to 2003. And one version, the 1998 Panoz Q9 GTR-1 Hybrid – affectionately known as Sparky – was the first successful modern hybrid race car. In all, the Panoz Esperante GTR-1 scored 20 podium finishes with five overall wins and nine class victories.
While based on the very successful GTR-1 race car and constructed very similarly to its racing siblings, this Esperante GTR-1 Le Mans Homologation Special sports a full leather interior, is street legal, and is driven locally on occasion. Here are its basic specifications as currently configured:
- 600-plus horsepower, 500 lb ft of torque (estimate)
- ZF six-speed transaxle
- 1,980 lbs (898 kg)
- 175 inches long / 78 inches wide (444.5 cm / 198 cm)
- Brembo front discs, eight-piston, four-pad calipers
- Brembo rear discs, four-piston, four-pad calipers
- 285/40-R18 tires on 18 x 10.5-inch OZ Racing center-lock wheels
It has remained in the Panoz collection in Braselton its entire existence.
Want your very own Esperante GTR-1? We can do that.
It would take a lot of persuasion for Panoz to part with the Esperante GTR-1 Le Mans Homologation Special. But Panoz can fulfill the dreams of those who wish to own a street-legal Esperante GTR-1. Using the original body and tub molds, Panoz can create either a near-exact carbon fiber replica or a modified version using alternate composites and lightweight technologies. Pricing starts at $890,000 and is dependent on the customer’s personalization requirements. Panoz prides itself on its “Extreme Personalization” program that lets owners create the car of their dreams.
Joining the one-of-a-kind GTR-1 in Dubai is the ultra-exclusive 25th Anniversary Edition Panoz Esperante Spyder GT, the company‘s supercharged 560-horsepower, two-passenger aluminum-intensive sports car. It is the more powerful, wide-body sibling of the Esperante Spyder. No more than 25 Esperante Spyder and Spyder GT sports cars will be produced, ensuring these hand-built, American-made sports cars remain special and exclusive.
Recognizing that Panoz owners expect the thrills of a manual gearbox, the Spyder GT’s powerful V8 engine is mated to a heavy duty, close-ratio Tremec® T56 Magnum six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment.
The Spyder GT features the car’s namesake Spyder open-cockpit configuration with its visually dynamic carbon fiber panel that conceals the functional twin roll hoops, and an all-new, low-slung carbon fiber windshield frame with tubular steel reinforced A-pillars. It sits on a strong and light aluminum chassis and wears the proven and lightweight SPF (Superplastic Forming, commonly referred to as ‘super formed’) aluminum and composite body revolutionized on previous Esperante models, but in a wide-body configuration.
Panoz was the first U.S. auto manufacturer to use super formed aluminum panels, a process that has since been used by some of the world’s most elite vehicle manufacturers, and it was the first in America to create an Aluminum Intensive Vehicle (AIV) when it built the Panoz AIV Roadster.
Other Esperante Spyder GT upgrades include exterior styling reminiscent of the Le Mans-winning Panoz Esperante GTLM race car; side exhausts like the Panoz Esperante GT2 race car; carbon fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, side skirts and exterior trim; 19 x 10.5-inch and 19 x 12-inch front and rear wheels; and Brembo® brakes on all four corners.
The Esperante Spyder and Spyder GT are available for order, and Panoz also continues to offer the Esperante as both a coupe and a convertible in both standard and GT configurations. Pricing remains:
- Esperante Spyder, Coupe, or Convertible: $179,120
- Esperante Spyder GT, Coupe GT, or Convertible GT: $204,750