This is the new Abruzzi "Spirit of Le Mans" sports car from the American company Panoz. As well as being an interesting and newsworthy article in its own right it also allows me to talk about another aspect of it that has rather bothered me. This might turn into a rant, but anyway here goes. If you make it to the end, well done, and thanks for sticking with it.
Since it was unveiled at the La Sarthe circuit yesterday the overwhelming response on other blogs, general car forums and comment pages of the Internet has, as far as I can make out, been almost entirely negative. I seem to be in a minority of one in really liking this car. The main bone of contention appears to be the design, particularly of the front. Now, I appreciate that style, beauty etc. is subjective, that one man's meat is another man's poison and all that. People are free to find things attractive or not as they please, and tell others accordingly. What I dislike, and what appears to be the case in the majority of critiques so far, is the vitriolic fervour in which people have attacked this car, disparaged and dismissed it, without having said why they don't like it.
Let me go on record here: I like the Panoz Abruzzi. There, I said it. Now, however, I am going to do what no-one else seems to have done and qualify that statement.
I really like this car for a number of reasons. First, it is different. It is not your usual run-of-the-mill Porsche, Ferrari or Lamborghini. In this world of dull conglomerates, mediocre products and amorphous designs something as extreme as this should be welcomed and admired as a refreshing break from the norm. Even if I were not taken by the design of this car I would still appreciate it as a unique departure from the supercar template and respect the company for having the courage to make it. It has been my experience that the very fact alone of something being different from what people expect and are used to seeing is excuse enough to condemn it with no further consideration. It is an almost knee-jerk reaction by beigist people who have been brought up to accept the uninspiring designs foisted upon us by faceless corporations.
This leads me on to another point - people seem to have lost that wonderful British trait of supporting the underdog. They have been blinded by the commercial glare of the big, popular brands. The selfish attitude dominates. Nowadays it is all to easy for people to attack the little man, the Davids of this world, to say that it is not worth supporting the smaller concerns, that there is no point and no chance of success. Well I don't agree - I still root for the underdog and I'm proud to defend and cheer on companies like Panoz who wish to plough their own furrow.
Back to the design and to me there is a strong retro-futurist element in the look of this car and even perhaps a hint of Art Deco, which appeals to me greatly. Some of the [slightly] more constructive comments I've read often compare it to the early Batmobiles and to an extent I agree. That is another one of the reasons why I like it so much. It also reminds me of some of the "Cars of the Future" concepts that the big American companies put out in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Except in this case it is no concept but a fully production-ready car, albeit in tiny numbers. In their rush to censure this car many people have also overlooked the technical aspects. The fact that it is made of recyclable material that is nevertheless still as strong and adaptable as carbon fibre, or that that front end goes some way to aiding the remarkable cooling processes employed by this car. Once again people betray their superficial ideals by ignoring these factors and rush into making cheap shots at the car's looks.
Well, that's about all I have to say on that. I think the fact that this has been my longest post so far goes some way to explaining how strongly I feel about this sort of thing and I hope you have found it interesting too, dear reader.