Panoz has been flying under the radar lately, but a visit to Jay Leno's Garage should change that. To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the all-American sports car manufacturer is launching an updated version of its Esperante, and company namesake Don Panoz brought the one and only prototype to California for Jay to check out.
Panoz will build just 25 of these anniversary-edition models, including a mix of Spyder and more potent Spyder GT models. The standard engine is a 430-horsepower V-8, but there's also a 560-hp supercharged option. Both engines come mated to a Tremec T56 Magnum six-speed manual transmission (customers will be able to specify a six-speed automatic as well).
Boutique sports car brands are a dime a dozen, as Jay notes, so for one to reach the quarter-century mark is pretty impressive. Especially considering that Don Panoz wasn't too interested in the cars at first: He tells Jay that his son started the car business, and claims he didn't become a "car guy" himself until 1997, after the company had been building them for about seven years!
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The Espernate doesn't look too different from the original model, but the 25th anniversary editions feature numerous updates, including a revamped interior with a digital gauge cluster and increased leg room. The body also gets some modifications to improve aerodynamics, plus a chopped windshield.
The updated car looks (and sounds) pretty good cruising down an uncharacteristically empty California road. It's also pretty good at doing burnouts, as Jay demonstrates.