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Panoz Unveils Abruzzi; So Wild It's Nearly Pornographic

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On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 11:46AM | By: John Welch

Panoz Unveils Abruzzi; So Wild It's Nearly Pornographic

The Internet has a funny way of taking rumors and running with them. Like scissors. The Panoz Abruzzi is the source of a few rumors, and the Internet has sensationalized every aspect of the new Panoz supercar in any way it could.

"2,300 brake horse pressures!"

"Carbon-Kevlar dead-pedal and a licorice dispenser on the ceiling!"

"The nose doubles as a sweet three-blade razor! Lifts and cuts!"

On top of these ridiculous claims, the Internet has provided us with several concept drawings that were far from accurate. What I find hilarious about this is that the actual car is more outrageous than any of these fake Panoz drawings depict. I mean, geezus, this car is front-engined?! Where, exactly, does the engine go?! Not being manufactured by some elves in an Alpine cave somewhere, the Panoz Abruzzi has a lineage that helps us ease past the slightly Sci-Fi aerodynamic treatment. This is a real car, screwed together well, and the badge on its hood has the racing credentials to give it more cachet than, say, a Gumpert Apollo . . . which is built by some elves in some Alpine cave somewhere . . .

How about some particulars? The Abruzzi is nicknamed "The Spirit of Le Mans" and, ronically enough, was unveiled this morning at the La Sarthe circuit in France. It is hand-assembled using innovative technologies pioneered by Panoz and its sister company, Elan Motorsports. It is manufactured at the Panoz facility outside of Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.

The Abruzzi is a front-engined, rear-drive coupe. The transmission and radiators are carried in the rear of the vehicle. The car is currently road legal in Europe and countries in Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

A departure from typically Ford-sourced Panoz power plants, the Abruzzi is hauled around by an engine based on the fire-breathing Chevrolet LS9 V8, the engine used in the Corvette ZR1. With a four-rotor Supercharger crammed into its valley, this pushrod-actuated monster generates well over 600 horsepower. Combined with a light-weight and what appears to be an excellent center of gravity ( rear-mounted radiators??!) the Abruzzi should be able to keep up with or out-right decimate most production "Loooggitme!" cars.

Speaking of those ass-oriented radiators, Panoz is very proud of the cooling system it has engineered for the Abruzzi. Referred to as “TRIFECTA COOLING”® by Panoz, the Abruzzi's cooling system employs two extra radiators in conjunction with a normal high-efficiency radiator. The stage two and stage three cooling systems lower coolant temperature on both the inflow to and the outflow from the main radiator. Pretty trick stuff.

Also trick: the body panels are constructed using another unique Panoz technology, “REAMS®". Standing for Recyclable Energy Absorbing Matrix System, REAMS is an advanced body construction material, and the process has never before been utilized in a road car and offers unprecedented environmental, performance, and structural advantages. What those advantages are, specifically, has yet to be disclosed.

“This is culmination of equal parts time, effort, and dreams,” said Don Panoz, founder of the Panoz Motor Sports Group. “The Panoz brand always has prided itself on hand-building and delivering an exotic automobile and experience to our customers. Our new offering takes this to a completely new level." There have been set-backs, of which Dr. Panoz is well aware. “I can tell you about four weeks ago I wondered if it would ever make it, but the guys really stuck to it and put in a lot of effort and finished it,” Panoz added. “We had a few hiccups with some suppliers, which is normal. Everything came together and the car was built. It was a little closer to schedule than we wanted, but everything worked the first time. As they say in Georgia, I mashed the button and took over and ran and here we are.”

The car will be priced right around $500 grand, and there will be 81 road-going examples built. The number 81 is significant because it is the number of 24 Hours races that will have been contested at Le Mans, between 1923 and the 2013 race, the car’s final year of production. The Abruzzi is currently undergoing FIA homologation inspection, and should be ready to race in the ALMS GT class next season.

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