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Small series manufacturer: Pagani: A visit to Pagani in Modena

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Small series manufacturer Pagani
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E in mystery surrounds the name Pagani. The incomprehensible is just as much part of the fascination as the prospect of not being able to get to the bottom of the mystery completely. The phenomenon is spread across three pillars: Horacio Pagani, the founder and boss, the Pagani Automobili company and of course the Pagani Zonda itself, the carbon fiber super sports car.

Pagani sets a record on the Nordschleife

But one must also understand the doubters. After all, it's hard to imagine that a jack-of-all-trades like Pagani could design a racing car at the drawing table and build it with a team that is hardly as big as the PR department of a premium manufacturer. And then it is not a rickety prototype that emerges, but the benchmark for processing carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. A headbirth that thundered around the Nürburgring-Nordschleife in 6.47 minutes this year.

At Pagani everything is created except the engine

The Pagani Zonda is the result of a passion that only the greats in their field consistently bring to the point of ultimate success. The degree of maturity of the playful-looking athlete remains a mystery, because it sounds so unbelievable that a team of almost 50 employees is now driving a project so skillfully. The advances made since the presentation in 1999 repeatedly raise the question: Who is really developing the Zonda?

Indignantly, the company founder emphasizes that everything except the engine is created in-house or, like the gearbox, is manufactured according to your own specifications. Whoever meets Pagani today will still discover the enthusiasm of a child in the 55-year-old's eyes; especially when he can pensively demonstrate his cars. If he sees a camera, he takes a step to the side so as not to cover his Zonda. Quite the opposite of Enzo Ferrari or Ferruccio Lamborghini - men who were almost bursting with pride.

Carbon fiber competence began at Lamborghini

Pagani's career tells the storyfairytale dishwasher ascent including fateful support from foster father Juan Manuel Fangio. The story is spiced with a good pinch of backyard ambience - where great success stories usually begin. Such constellations are good for creating legends.

Unlike his peers, twelve-year-old Horacio not only paints sports cars, he even shapes them out of clay. Eight years later, the Argentine designed a Formula 3 racing car - this time for real. Then Pagani meets his great role model, compatriot Fangio. The five-time Formula 1 world champion is fascinated by the young autodidact's determination, and he brings him to Lamborghini. There Pagani rose from a simple mechanic to a specialist in composites and laid the foundation for his carbon fiber expertise. In 1987 he worked on the P140 project - which later resulted in the Lamborghini Gallardo.

V12 engine in the Pagani Zonda comes from AMG

Pagani is still consistently pursuing his dream: his own super sports car to build. In order to finance his plans, the Italian by choice founded Pagani Composite Research in 1988 and carried out orders for Lamborghini - not without secretly developing his own project. The first model was in the Dallara wind tunnel in 1993 and is now in Pagani's office.

Fangio is still inaugurated. A year before his death, the 83-year-old won his former employer Mercedes for the project, and AMG contributed the V12 in 1994. The trust in the ability of the Pagani company continues to this day - the Zonda successor to be released next year will also receive an AMG engine.

This collaboration belies any doubts that have been expressed about the profitability of Pagani Automobili. 117 Zondas have been built since 1999, which are a good source of income for Pagani: the current Cinque Roadster model costs 1.4 million euros. Modena Design, another division of the Argentine, also develops prototypes for other manufacturers.

Every detail on the Pagani Zonda has to look good

Because Pagani’s old production facility is in an industrial area is bursting at the seams near Modena, a new street is currently being built - in the building of a former Porsche dealer. The team should have three times as much space as before. The current company headquarters are being converted into a beauty farm for the aging Zonda. The next vision that Horacio Pagani wants to realize with his typical perfection. Because on the Pagani Zonda every detail has to look good, even if it is hidden; only total works of art are allowed to leave the court in San Cesario sul Panaro under the strict control of the master.

He has found his own master in Leonardo da Vinci, the world-famous painter and researcher, esthete and inventor. He admires the most progressive artist of the Renaissance as he adores this age.Because there, according to Pagani, brains and craftsmanship have come together in an ingenious way and have left traces to this day. It is not difficult to establish a kinship between Pagani and da Vinci.


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