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.

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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.


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