Unfortunately, none of those new details involve building a U.S.-spec model. The plan is still as we described it back in June: Panoz, best known in the U.S. for its Esperante sports car, will hand-build just 81 copies of the car (one for each Le Mans race held from its inception in 1926 through 2013, the year the car will cease production) and they will only be road-legal in Europe and some Asian, Middle Eastern and South American countries, not the U.S.
Bummer for us, especially since the cars will be built at Panoz's headquarters in Hoschton, Georgia. After all, who wouldn't want to take a spin down the Tail of the Dragon in a car with a front-mounted V-8 sending 640 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque to the rear-mounted transaxle? Not to mention a car using a new lightweight material for its body called the Recyclable Energy Absorbing Matrix System, which is claimed to be lighter than carbon-fiber but just as strong and both dent-resistant and shatter-proof. We'd also like a peek at the Trifectacooling system that apparently places auxiliary radiators before and after the primary rear-mounted radiator to increase cooling capacity.
In addition to this photograph, which reveals changes to the headlights but an otherwise intact design, Panoz also dropped a hint about the future of the company. Though the Abruzzi "Spirit of Le Mans" will be a strictly limited-run vehicle, Panoz has hinted that a "series of versions" of the Abruzzi could be on the horizon, so there's still hope for a U.S.-spec car in the future.
The rest of the plan also remains. Each car will be shipped straight to the Circuit de la Sarthe to be delivered to the new owner, who will then enjoy professional driving instruction on the Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans. Each car will also incorporate the initials of each winning driver and the date they won in each Vehicle Identification Number and can only be serviced at the ACO facilities at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Finally, each owner will be invited to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race the year they purchase the car as guests of ACO and Panoz and when they're not hanging out in the suite, they'll get to drive a parade lap on the full 8.3-mile track. That, of course, is after the "Spirit of Le Mans" reception before raceday at the clubhouse of the famous Golf Des 24 Heures where they'll rub elbows with the likes of "Spirit of Le Mans" winners like Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell.
Before then, though, Panoz will be wrapping up the final details required to get the car on the road. The company expects to be finished with all the paperwork by the end of this year and begin sales early in 2011 at a still unspecified price. Though the car won't be sold here, U.S. citizens will get the first peak at the real thing when it makes its racing debut at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta at the end of this month, the final round of the American Le Mans Series where Panoz has had great success in the past. Because the road car hasn't been finished yet, the car isn't homologated and will run as an unclassified entry. Following that debut, the car will make its international debut at the final round of the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series at Zhuhai, China, on November 7.