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by Jay Traugott
With a Ford Mustang V8 under the hood, this sleek convertible will turn heads everywhere it goes.
Panoz is one of those small car companies that too many people don't know about. Founded in 1989 by Dan Panoz, the automaker has exclusively relied on Ford V8s as its engine of choice. The company is small and it's only produced three road models with a fourth on the way, but not only have each of those cars been fine pieces of automotive excellence, one of those cars has also been modified for track use. In addition to the retro Panoz roadster, the automaker's other car is the Esperante.
Although it's a more conventional model when compared to the Panoz, it's had some solid successes in motorsports. More specifically, the Esperante GTLM won the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 2006. The following year, Panoz worked with Prototype Technology Group, who's been BMW Motorsport
's partner for many years, in order to take the GTLM to compete in the American Le Mans season as well as Le Mans in France once again. For those who care to know some industry trivia, the American Le Mans Series was created by Don Panoz, father of Dan Panoz.
The front-engine, rear-wheel-drive Esperante road car was first launched in 2000. Initially sold with a 4.6-liter Ford V8 under the hood, subsequent versions were later upgraded to the newer 5.0-liter unit. Aside from the track-developed GTLM, other versions included the base model, the GT, GTS and JRD. Each of these was a bit different from the other in order to make them more special. For example, the GTLM took advantage of a supercharger that increased power from 305hp to 420hp and sheered a whole second off its 0 to 62 mph time, now rated at 4 seconds flat.
The GTS was made specifically to SCCA standards and came complete with a roll cage, harness and side bars. It also weighs less than the base car and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 182mph. In addition to those trims, there were also some limited edition road cars, such as this Jan Magnussen Edition that's up for sale on eBay. The seller claims that only 10 of these editions were built and this particular one is #10. Power comes from a Ford V8 mated to a five-speed manual. What really separates the Jan Magnussen Edition apart from the base model is its exterior which features a rare magnesium red metallic paint and carbon fiber trim.
There are a few blemishes throughout the body, such as a bit of worn carbon fiber and some paint fade, but overall the car is still in solid shape. The power convertible top works without a glitch and the optional 18-inch factory chrome BBS wheels remain in good condition. It has a total of 49,507 miles on the clock and as of this writing, the top bid was only $22,100, but the reserve hadn't been met yet.
For those wanting something that's not only special but has supercar looks and a Ford V8 under the hood, this 2003 Panoz Esperante could be just the thing.