Which muscle car do you consider to be the most underrated?

Panoz Esperante: A Forgotten Gem of American Muscle Cars

When asked about a favorite performance car, most car enthusiasts will mention well-known names like Porsche 911, Corvette, Mustang, and Ferrari. However, what about the lesser-known performance cars that only hardcore car nerds are aware of? What is your favorite forgotten high-performance car?

It should be noted that the answer does not have to be impressive or well-received by the public. In fact, the favorite forgotten muscle car can be downright bad. Many performance cars have a certain charm, even if they are not widely recognized. This is the place to express love for the misfit toy of the automotive world.

For many enthusiasts, their favorite forgotten sports car is one that brings back nostalgic memories. In particular, one enthusiast shares a personal experience with the Panoz Esperante. The Panoz Esperante is a name that brings him great joy, as it was featured in one of the Gran Turismo video games. The car was exotic, fast, and challenging to control, which made it feel special and unique. The enthusiast fondly remembers feeling informed and ahead of his peers by knowing about the Panoz Esperante, despite the fact that he was not actually as informed as he thought he was at the time.

Panoz cars were prominent in racing games during the 1990s and early 2000s, showcasing various street and race cars, including the Esperante GTLM which secured a class win at Le Mans in 2006. It is the street version of the Le Mans-winning GTLM that is the forgotten performance car being celebrated.

The Panoz Esperante was ahead of its time when it debuted in 2000, featuring an aluminum and carbon fiber chassis, an all-aluminum body, and pushrod rear shocks. Initially, it was equipped with a 4.6-liter modular V8 from the Ford SVT Mustang Cobra, producing 350 horsepower. In its later years, GM LS engines were also offered. Power was transmitted to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. Most Esperantes were two-seat convertible GT cars, although a few coupes were built for homologation purposes.

The Panoz Esperante was a unique, rare, and largely unknown American sports car that made a significant impact in the racing world. Despite its competing at Le Mans and achieving victory, only a select few car enthusiasts remember it today. Although it is incredibly hard to find and drive, it holds a special place as the favorite forgotten sports car for many enthusiasts, including the previously mentioned individual.

The Panoz Esperante may be a relic of the past, but it certainly deserves recognition as an underappreciated gem in the world of American muscle cars. Its legacy lives on in the memories of enthusiasts who had the privilege of experiencing its allure. If you have any tips or stories about forgotten high-performance cars, please send them to tips@thedrive.com.