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If a spine-shattering ride is your kind of thing, Panoz will build you a street-legal racecar

panoz promises street legal racecars can it deliver esperante gt lm
With suspension designed for the track, the Panoz street-legal racecar should be spine shattering. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Many carmakers say their products are like racecars for the road. Soon hey may have to eat those words.

Panoz Auto Development is known for its endurance racers, but it has built a few road cars as well. According to Endurance-Info, it will resume production of cars for people who don’t wear helmets to work – but with a twist.

Panoz will build one-off versions of its racecars for the street, completely customized for individual buyers.

“If you want a Panoz GTR-1 for the street, we will produce one for you,” Panoz vice president of sales John A. Leverett said at the opening of the company’s new showroom and museum in Braselton, Georgia.

The GTR-1 began racing in the FIA GT Championship  in 1997; it also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the American Le Mans Series. Additionally, Panoz campaigned the open-topped LMP-1 Roadster-S in top endurance races.

Neither car was designed with street driving in mind, so the experience should be – to say the least – unique. Panoz says it will equip the road-going versions with new chassis, powertrains, and interiors, but owners will still have plenty of regulatory obstacles (not to mention speed bumps and potholes) to avoid before enjoying the cars on the road.

These won’t be the first road cars from Panoz, though.

Panoz launched the Roadster in 1992, with an aluminum body shaped like the love child of a Plymouth Prowler and a Light Car Company Rocket covering Ford Mustang running gear. Panoz eventually added an aluminum chassis and the 4.6-liter V8 from the 1996 Mustang Cobra, turning the roadster into the AIV (Aluminum Intensive Vehicle).

Panoz also built the Esperante (GT-LM racing version pictured), a convertible with more classic proportions; it also used Ford Mustang engines. It’s last attempt at a road car was the Abruzzi Spirit of Le Mans, unveiled in 2010.

Purpose-built road cars are one thing, but putting license plates on a racer is a whole other matter. We’re eager to see if this far-fetched plan comes to fruition.

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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