Panoz Pulls the Wraps off its New Abruzzi Spirit of Le Mans
Cottage sports car builder Panoz has built two roadgoing models in its history (not counting the homologation models of the Esparante GTR-1 “Batmobile”): the cycle-fendered throwback AIV Roadster and the handsome Esparante. Now the company has unveiled its third road car, the Abruzzi Spirit of Le Mans, and it’s a break with tradition in more ways than one.
The first departure from the norm is the body. It’s made from a material called Recyclable Energy Absorbing Matrix System (REAMS) and is the first automotive application of the material. In addition to being recyclable, REAMS is also lighter than, and yet as strong as, carbon fiber. It is also dent resistant and shatter-proof.
Another change is the fact that the Abruzzi will not be offered outside of Europe, at least for the foreseeable future. This is ironic considering Panoz is based in Georgia, and corporate chief Don Panoz is also the founder of the American Le Mans Series. But the company is at least taking full advantage of the car’s Europe-only status by delivering the 81 cars (one for each running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans through 2013, which will be the final year of production) to their buyers at the circuit in Le Mans. Customers will then go through a two-day high performance driver training program on the historic facility’s shorter Bugatti Circuit. Not a bad idea, since the Abruzzi will pack in excess of 600hp.
Customers will also be invited to the next running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans following the date they took delivery as guests of Panoz and the ACO (the organization that puts on the race). But even more exiting, they will also have a chance to drive their Abruzzi around the roughly 8.3 mile full course before the race. Not a bad deal, assuming you have a place in Europe and have roughly $480,000 to spend. Of course, we can’t check either of those boxes. Sigh…