A conceptual version of the planned road-going Panoz Deltawing GT sports car has been revealed in the US.
The launch of the sports car and a subsequent four-seat saloon - which as yet hasn't been given a timescale - is portrayed as a comeback for the US-based Panoz. The sports car is based heavily on the Deltawing racer, which currently competes in the IMSA Tudor Uniter SportsCar Championship in the US.
While the car's makers have yet to reveal the powertrain which will be used in the road car, the company has described its vehicle architecture as a "green technology multi-tool", saying it could incorporate engines powered by petrol, diesel and compressed natural gas, as well as hybrid and electric powertrains.
Autocar understands that both cars will be built around a lightweight aluminium chassis and feature engines mounted transversely at the rear. The GT two-seater will have a turbocharged four-cylinder engine of undisclosed origin producing in the region of 340bhp, while a three-cylinder engine with 105-110bhp is planned for the saloon, in which the rear seats would be mounted over the drivetrain.
Both cars will retain the narrow front track and 30/70% front/rear weight distribution central to the lightweight Deltawing racer, which was conceived to achieve the same performance as its rivals while using half the fuel.
Panoz envisages a price of $60,000-$70,000 for the GT and $27,000-$30,000 for the saloon. The cars will be made by the Deltawing Technology Group, which incorporates the currently dormant Panoz.
Deltawing boss Don Panoz said: “I’m certainly no tree-hugger and have no opinion on global warming, but if you have better fuel economy and lower emissions, then that makes a contribution to society.”
Deltawing first revealed a concept for a road car last May at a time when it envisaged selling its technology to a large manufacturer. Now it has decided to build road cars itself – although it hasn’t ruled out licensing deals - and has recruited Brian Willis from Multimatic, where he was a key figure in the design of Ford’s forthcoming carbon fibre-bodied GT, to lead the programme.
Development of the two-seat Panoz will begin in earnest first, and the firm has set a target of beginning real-world testing by the end of this year. The plan is to develop the car in a racing environment, with race outings late this season on the cards.
Willis, who joined Deltawing at the end of February, admitted that he was facing “some aggressive development goals”.
Panoz’s previous road car project, the front-engined Abruzzi ‘Spirit of Le Mans’, which was revealed at the race from which it took its name in 2010, never made it into production.
Panoz and US team owner Chip Ganassi, who are among the rights holders to the Deltawing concept, were known to be pursuing a legal action against the creator of the car, Ben Bowlby, and Nissan, which turned the 2012 Le Mans race programme into a reality with the supply of engines, finance and technical resources.
They alleged that last year’s Nissan ZEOD RC, which, like the Deltawing, was given the ‘Garage 56’ entry reserved at Le Mans for experimental machinery, violated its intellectual property rights.
An attempt by Nissan to have the case dismissed failed early this year. The continuation of the action, which also names Nissan global motorsport boss Darren Cox, comes at a time when the manufacturer has gone quiet on its plans for the narrow-track BladeGlider concept, revealed at the Tokyo motor show in 2013.
Speaking to Autocar at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, Nissan bosses described the BladeGlider as an "exploratory concept", despite it being 18 months since the car was first revealed. Chief planning officer Philippe Klein has said producing BladeGlider is "not among the immediate priorities" of the firm.
The BladeGlider was originally scheduled to go on sale in 2017, priced from around £30,000.
Read more: Dramatic Nissan BladeGlider concept returns (August 2016)