By the time the Panoz Esperante was introduced in 2000, it was clear that Danny Panoz had managed to do something that hadn't been accomplished since Chrysler was incorporated in 1925, start a successful American car company. Using a race-bred aluminum chassis designed by an Irish engineering firm known for its work with Lotus and Maserati, and a rumbling American V-8, Panoz Auto Development Company created the AIV Roadster.

2000 Panoz Esperante
The 2000 Panoz Esperante blends elegant lines with rock-solid performance.

Despite its impressive performance the roofless, windowless Roadster appealed only to hard-core driving enthusiasts. Responding to demand for a more practical car, the luxurious Esperante was added to the eleven-year-old Panoz line. With its roll-up windows, leather interior, and power top, Esperante appealed to drivers that craved performance as well as daily drivability.

2000 Panoz Esperante, Interior
The all-leather interior of the 2000 Panoz Esperante
is as luxurious and classy as its exterior.

The lightweight Esperante featured an all-aluminum body and an engine purchased from Ford. The double overhead-cam 4.6-liter engine is the same V-8 used in 2001 Mustang Cobras and produces 320 horsepower. At a modest 3400 pounds and with its strong engine, Esperante sprints from 0-60 mph in about 5 seconds.

Panoz hand assembled about 100 $80,000 2000 Esperantes at its Hoschton, Georgia, factory. At the end of the assembly line Panoz employees that worked on a car etched their signature on an aluminum plate mounted under the hood.

Fast and rare, each Esperante is a tribute to the American institutions of top-down motoring and entrepreneurial spirit. An Irish chassis, a Mustang engine, and an upstart factory in suburban Atlanta combined with surprising results: a new American car company and an exciting convertible.

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