Page 1 of 2 Next >> Established in 1989 by Dan Panoz as a manufacturer of straightforward sports cars, Panoz stepped up to international motorsports in 1997 with the purpose-built Esperante GTR-1. With substantial backing from Dan's father and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Don Panoz, the relatively small manufacturer was able to call in the services of leading British racing car specialist Reynard to develop and build the new GT racer.
As the GTR-1 was designed to the latest GT1 regulations, it strictly speaking should have been based on a road car. Instead, a slightly toned down, road legal version was created alongside the racer for homologation purposes. While this popular interpretation of the regulations gave designer Nigel Stroud virtually free reign, it was decided to go for a front-mounted engine. By going down this path, Panoz created the first purpose-built sports racer with this layout since the 1960s.
As a result of the unusual engine location, the GTR-1 featured a three-part chassis. The most substantial was the carbon-fibre monocoque cockpit, which was connected to the front crash structure by a steel tubular frame that cradled the engine. The suspension layout followed the design ethos of the day with double-wishbones and push-rods on all four corners. Powering the GT1 racer was a Roush-tuned Ford V8, which was mated to a Panoz-modified XTrac sequential gearbox.
It was immediately obvious that the GTR-1 was no conventional sports racer due to the relatively long nose and the proximity of the cockpit to the rear axle centreline. Fresh air was directed to the engine by intakes right above the splitter. Conventionally mounted alongside the cockpit, the radiators were fed by intakes on either side of the V8. Although the engine was mounted in front of the cockpit, it sat completely behind the front axle, so the GTR-1 was effectively still a mid-engined machine. Page 1 of 2 Next >>