Sometime later this summer, a curious new sports-car prototype will cruise the streets of North Georgia.
Today, on the eve of the 12 Hours of Sebring, Don Panoz announced that his company will soon build road-going versions of the DeltaWing race car.
Quick recap on the DelatWing: It's a narrow-nosed smack in the face of conventional race cars. A curiosity in the world of nearly identical race cars. The idea is to concentrate the weight, the drag, and the dynamics of the rear axle for greater efficiency. It's got about half the horsepower of comparable racers, half the weight, yet runs similar lap times. It finished fourth at Petit Le Mans last year.
Panoz, who just turned 80, announced that the narrow-front architecture will form the basis of a new family of road cars. The first will be a two-seat GT, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine pumping out about 350 horsepower. The projected cost is around $60,000.
The GT's chassis will also underpin a four-seat family sedan. Details are thin, but Panoz explained this mainstream car will have roughly 100 horsepower and cost about $30,000. According to Panoz, an independant study using the preliminary design data projected a 42-percent increase in efficiency and over 70 mpg highway.
The road-car chassis would also form the basis of a new DeltaWing GT racing car.
"I'm certainly no tree hugger," said Panoz, who is the man behind the nicotine patch yet still famously smokes, "But if you can reduce emissions and consumption, that just seems like the right thing to do."
Several key details remain undecided. For one, it's not yet clear if Panoz will sell the cars or if he'll partner with another manufacturer. Also, the powertrains could change to full electric, gas, or a hybrid combination of the two.
Before you discount this plan as vaporware, remember that many said the same thing about Elon Musk. And Panoz and his son Dan have built and sold cars before—the AIV Roadster and the Panoz Esperante.
The DeltaWing may very well be a second act.
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