By on February 19, 2019

What luxury sports car combines a multitude of components from other manufacturers with a custom-fabricated body all its own? It’s the Panoz Esperante, naturally.

Your author has always put the Esperante in a class with the Qvale Mangusta, which was featured on a previous edition of Rare Rides. In the early 2000s, start-up manufacturers made custom, low-volume sports cars for a well-heeled clientele they thought eagerly awaited such vehicles.

To be fair, the Esperante was not Panoz’ first time at the car manufacturing rodeo. Founded in 1989, the Esperante’s predecessor was also the premier offering from Panoz — the AIV Roadster. With a form similar to that of a Caterham 7, the AIV Roadster was produced from 1992 to 1995. Panoz began Esperante production in 2000, building standard road car variants and factory-ready racers which competed in SCCA competitions.

The chassis under all Esperante models was a custom, modular one, made of aluminum and attached to a steel subframe. Up top, the uniquely shaped body was hand-assembled out of aluminum for extra lightness.

All examples maintained a rear-drive layout, but Panoz mixed it up with engine offerings. Depending on the year and trim specified, the engine under the long hood was either a Ford 4.6-liter V8 (with or without supercharger), or a V8 sourced from General Motors. It seems the company was more fond of using Ford engines, which were built by Elan Motorsport Technologies rather than sourced directly from Ford.

Said Elan Motorsport engines produced 305 horsepower when naturally aspirated. Those horses were distributed to the rear wheels via a five- or six-speed manual, or four-speed automatic transmission. In standard configuration, the base Esperante accelerated to 62 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds.

Toward the end of the Esperante’s production run, Panoz developed a racing version called the GT-LM. The racer was ready for entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2006, where it competed in the GT2 category. The GT-LM won first place that year in its category.

Panoz followed the Esperante with another coupe offering which took a while to get off the ground — the Avezzano. But it didn’t hit the road until the summer of 2017. It seems the Esperante is still in production, as variants are presently listed on the Panoz website, with prices and company contact information for custom orders.

Today’s Rare Ride comes to us from Atlanta. In silver over black and with just 7,800 miles on the odometer, the coupe asks $35,900.

[Images: seller]

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