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Panoz launches newest sports car, the Abruzzi

Tue, 08 Jun 2010

The spirit of Le Mans--along with the spirit of the out-of-production Panoz Esperante--lives on in Panoz Auto Development's latest creation, the Abruzzi.

Named for the people from the south-central Abruzzo region of Italy, the Abruzzi draws its inspiration from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the car is making its world debut on Tuesday, and its styling from the 1935 Delahaye Type 135 tear-drop coupe.

"It is about the true spirit of Le Mans, a car you can drive from home to the racetrack, race it, and then drive home again," Panoz chairman and American Le Mans Series owner Don Panoz said.

A three-year production run for the Abruzzi "Spirit of Le Mans" road car begins late this summer, and Panoz said his company will build just 81--equal to the number of 24-hour races run at Le Mans since 1923. Each will carry cues from an individual Le Mans race year.

Panoz will homologate the car for Europe, and it will be sold in European countries only, priced at 400,000 euros ($480,000). Panoz refused to comment about whether he plans a U.S. version.

The Abruzzi is powered by a front-mounted, supercharged Corvette racing engine, a 6.2-liter V8 producing 640 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Power runs to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transaxle. A key technical improvement over the Esperante is a unique "Trifecta" cooling system, with rear-mounted radiators in addition to cooling systems that reduce temperatures of coolant as it flows in and out of the radiator. Panoz said that re-locating the radiators to the rear of the car improves top speed by cutting down on aerodynamic drag.

The car's body panels are formed from REAMS, short for Recyclable Energy Absorbing Matrix System, a composite-like material that is lighter, more durable and easier to repair than carbon fiber.

An Abruzzi GT2 race car likely will run its first event at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October, followed by a complete American Le Mans Series campaign in 2011 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans next June.

By Bob Gritzinger