For $43,500 This 2002 Panoz Esperante Convertible Could Make You Feel Like a Million Bucks

It may have a Ford Mustang Cobra engine under the hood, but this bad boy is rarer than most Italian thoroughbreds.

Let’s just say you’ve got a nice chunk of change saved up and you’re looking for an original ride with a pep in its step—something with muscle. No Mustang or Camaro will do because that’s for the masses, and you’re also hesitant about going European. Well, how about a Panoz Esperante?

According to this listing on Facebook Marketplace, a 2002 Esperante Convertible can be yours for the not-so-cheap price of $43,500. The car in question, a black-bodied unit with black and red leather seats, only has 21,621 miles on the odometer, which means it’s only seen little over 1,200 miles per year since the day it rolled out of its Georgia factory. And judging by the photographs accompanying the ad, the car looks to have been babied its entire life. Even the factory carbon fiber accents are pristine while the convertible top cover looks practically new, as do the sleek BBS wheels.

Wayne Poe FB
Wayne Poe FB

Under the hood of this American front-engined, rear-wheel-drive muscle machine is a 4.6-liter V8 Ford engine built specifically for that generation’s Mustang Cobra. However, the engine was rebadged as Élan Motorsport Technologies at the factory. The Ford powerplant produced anywhere from 300 to 310 horsepower on a good day and was paired to either a Tremec five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. In the case of this specific unit, the seller claims that his fiance can’t drive stick, and although he doesn’t say it, we can imagine that’s one of the reasons why the car must go.

Back in the day, the Esperante Convertible was good for a zero to 60 run in 4.9 seconds and it could trounce the quarter-mile in 13.4 seconds at 107.3 miles per hour.

A number of improvements and maintenance items have been performed to make sure this rare American stallion is in tip-top shape, including the addition of “modern” Pioneer navigation, handsfree, and audio unit. Professional paint correction, ceramic coating, clear bra, car cover, and two sets of floor mats are also included, as are all the maintenance records for the car. All in all, it’s easy to see this has been someone’s prized possession, although there’s no word on whether the seller is the first owner.

Let’s talk about the price of $43,500. It’s not an insignificant amount, but it’s also not exactly Mercedes-AMG or BMW M kind of money. Other comparable listings (like these on Hemmings) prove that this Esperante is well priced and in considerably better shape than most—especially the leather seats. Plus, unlike a picky European, you can service this bad boy at your local Ford dealership. Speaking of Ford, for the price of this Panoz you could also buy a brand-new Mustang Convertible EcoBoost Premium, but you’d come short of a V8-powered GT with similar equipment as those start at $45,130.

The Esperante was produced from 2000 to 2007 in Braselton, Georgia, otherwise known as the small town home to the Road Atlanta racing circuit and Chateau Elan winery and resort, both of which were funded by Italian-American pharmaceutical magnate Don Panoz. The Esperante was made in a variety of trims ranging from bare-bones racer to luxury sports car, or at least Panoz’s idea of luxury. The Esperante was even homologated for racing, and it participated in the American Le Mans racing series as well as in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

If American muscle and a healthy dose of panache are what you’re looking for, this might just be your ticket.