Panoz LLC is a southern-born sports car manufacturer located in Braselton, Ga. Dan Panoz started Panoz Auto Development in 1989, and since then the company has evolved to become Panoz LLC and has made a name for itself in the motorsports world. We are going to take a tour of the Panoz history, past and current production car models, its innovations, and its rich racing history.
Soon after Dan founded the company, his father Don Panoz suggested that if he was going to produce cars, he needed to create a racing history. Dan decided racing wasn’t for him, so he suggested that his father start the racing division. In 1997, Don launched Èlan Motorsports Technologies and the Panoz Motor Sports Group. Interesting fact: Don Panoz delved into racing after decades of international success in the pharmaceutical and resort industries.
Interesting facts about the Panoz Family
- Don met his wife Nancy at the Greenbrier Military School, then both served in the U.S. Army.
- Don Panoz’s pharmaceutical companies invented the transdermal patch, popularly known as the nicotine patch.
- Don Panoz has been inducted into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame and Museum and received the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America’s Bob Russo Heritage Award.
- Dan Panoz’s dream was to create hand-built high-performance sports cars that featured American V8 engines and were easy and affordable to maintain. Today Panoz has built more street and race cars than any other small-volume American car manufacturer.
- In 1998, Don Panoz founded the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the Petit Le Mans 10-hour/1,000-mile race held annually at Road Atlanta.
- Panoz owned Road Atlanta until 2013 when he sold it as part of the ALMS merger with NASCAR’s Grand-Am Road Racing Series.
Dan Panoz’s first car was the 1989 Panoz Roadster, which featured a stainless-steel tube frame and a Ford 5.0L V8. In 1996, Dan and his team created the Panoz AIV (aluminum intensive vehicle) Roadster with an all-aluminum 4.6L 32V Ford Mustang Cobra V8 and an all-aluminum body and chassis. The Panoz AIV Roadster introduction made Panoz the first American car manufacture to build and produce an aluminum intensive vehicle, and today it is one of the hottest and rarest American production cars of the entire 1990s.
- Panoz produced 44 5.0L Panoz Roadsters.
- The company made 176 4.6L Panoz AIV Roadsters.
- All Panoz Roadsters came with a Borg Warner T-5 manual transmissions.
- Panoz AIV Roadster engines are all hand built with forged internals.
- The Panoz AIV Roadster came with 305 hp and 305 ft_lbs of torque.
- The Panoz AIV Roadster had a curb weight just under 2,600 lbs.
- The Panoz AIV Roadster goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, runs the 1/4 mile in about 13.0 seconds, and has a top test-track speed of 140 mph.
- Panoz Roadster production ended in 1999, but the company is considering possibly reviving the model.
The 1997 Panoz Esperante GTR-1, which raced in sports car endurance racing’s GT1 class, was Panoz Motor Sports Group’s first race car. When it debuted, the GTR-1 was the first race car front mid-engine race car to compete in over nearly 30 years and succeeded among competition that had moved to rear mid-engine platforms. The car featured a Roush 6.0L Ford V8 that clearly sounded different than anything else racing in the American Le Mans Series and European racing’s prototype classes.
The GTR-1 successor, the Panoz Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S, debuted a few years later when a rule change required open cockpit configurations in the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) class. Panoz Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S race cars scored wins against cars such as the mighty Audi R8 Le Mans prototypes. Those wins included the 2002 Cadillac Grand Prix, the 2001 1000 km of Nürburgring, and the 2001 ALMS race at Mid-Ohio.
Panoz is the first auto manufacturer in the world to create a successful modern hybrid race car. This car, nicknamed “Sparky,” was the 1998 Panoz Esperante Q9 Hybrid. It featured a front mid-engine 6.0L aluminum block Ford V8, along with an oil cooled, permanent magnet, brushless Zytec DC motor/generator. The car made approximately 650 hp with 500 ft_lbs of torque. Sparky’s electric motor contributed 30 percent of the car’s overall power output. Sparky weighed just under 2,500 lbs., wore an amazing prism paint job, and won its class at the 1998 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Panoz is a division of Green4U Technologies, Inc., Don Panoz’s new company that provides electric vehicles and EV technologies. Another Green4U division is DeltaWing Manufacturing, which provides engineering, design and manufacturing services and to automotive and other industries. The company has decades of expertise with composites such as carbon fiber, and also offers metal fabrication and engine and powertrain services.
One interesting project to come out of the Don Panoz motorsports world was the DeltaWing Roadster and DeltaWing Coupe prototype race cars. The DeltaWing originally began as a new Indy Car Series design for the 2012 season. Its approach was to develop a race car that was half of the weight, had half the horsepower, used half the fuel, and created half of the aerodynamic drag of its competitors while still being competitive. The DeltaWing featured a Mazda-based 2.0L, 350-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine developed by Èlan Motorsports Technologies that weighed only 173 lbs.
The DeltaWing Roadster first raced at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans as the inaugural Garage56 entrant, a slot reserved for innovative racing designs. It wowed the fans until an unfortunate collision with the Toyota entry forced it to retire from the race. The race car competed in North American road racing as the Roadster then the Coupe version from 2012 until its final race, the 2016 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The experimental race car proved to be very competitive and even led 29 laps at the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona before it unfortunately collided with a stalled race car and after insufficient warning to on-track competitors. The three remaining DeltaWing race cars reside at the company’s Braselton headquarters, and one is for sale.
Have you ever wanted to get into racing but do not have the technical expertise to build a car? The good news is that Panoz has race cars for the intermediate driver. This Esperante GTS has all the racing necessities and a cool look that will surely grab spectators’ attention.
In 2005, the legendary builder Jesse James from the “Monster Garage” TV show set a goal to make a Panoz Esperante fly. The “Monster Garage” team equipped the Esperante with a rear mounted airplane engine, collapsible wings, and a rear tail fin. They tested this creation near Kitty Hawk, N.C., which is close to where the Wright brothers made their epic first flight. The winged Esperante lifted off the ground for three seconds and flew a total of 350 feet at 80 mph. Coincidentally, a Panoz will fly without the wings.
All Panoz creations are hand built for each customer. The car is built around you and your personal tastes and needs. They even go to extent of measuring your hands for perfect steering wheel thickness. When you purchase a Panoz, they offer numerous exterior and interior options for you to choose from to make the car truly your own. Panoz calls this Extreme Personalization.
Finally, Green4U Technologies Inc. and Don Panoz want to change racing, again. On June 15, 2017 Don Panoz and Green4U co-founder Jack Perkowski unveiled a new concept race car called the Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. The GT-EV has two electric motors that individually power the front and rear wheels. The goal for this concept car is to have an all-electric race car demonstrate comparable performance of an internal combustion engine race cars in long-distance endurance races. The goal is for the GT-EV to go as far as a GT-class race car can travel on one tank of fuel, then swap batteries during a pit stop in the same time the petrol car takes to refuel. Green4U and Panoz hope to demonstrate this technology in the very near future.
Additional Panoz LLC Facts
- Panoz has been in business for over 28 years.
- Panoz cars are race track tested.
- The street versions of its cars are designed to be very similar to the race versions.
- Panoz sports cars are manufactured production vehicles featuring Panoz-designed bodies and chassis platforms, not rebodied Mustang ‘kit cars.’
- Production Panoz sports cars use warranted and certified engines and components from General Motors and Ford. Most everything can be serviced at dealerships and many auto repair shops.
- Panoz sports cars have European style with an American attitude.
- Look for our Panoz Avezzano, the company’s latest V8 sports car review soon. This new car finished second in it’s first Pirelli World Challenge season.
Check out these related links:
Dave King: Photography/Blog
Pat Moon: Video Production/Social Media
Rain Photography AL: Various Photo Editing
Some Photos Courtesy of Panoz LLC
We want to give a big Thank You to Don Panoz, Gary Fong, and John Leverett!