Celebrating 20 years this year, we look at Pagani’s success and drive as we meet the man himself, Horacio Pagani at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The Master in our title is not ‘The Master’ from any Star Wars film but ‘El Maestro’, 5 times F1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio, the Argentinian born racer still holds the record for winning the F1 title with the most teams – Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes and Maserati. Not only was he, and still is, considered the greatest Formula 1 driver ever but he’s also the reason behind the power units in the amazingly awesome Italian supercars Pagani.
Like the ex F1 champion, the founder of Pagani, Horacio Pagani was born in Argentina, he moved to Italy – country of the Supercar – in 1983 on personal recommendation from his friend, Juan Fangio. Horacio was once chief engineer with Lamborghini but took the brave step to move out on his own, first with his own consultancy Modena Design before setting up Pagani as we know it today in 1992.
It was when setting up Pagani that Horatio took the decision to remember his friend. Fangio was made an honory president of Mercedes Benz Argentina and when Pagani started working on his first car, his good friend Fangio helped with some development of the supercar, indeed Pagani’s first car was to be called the Fangio F1 but that changed with Fangio’s death in 1995, the name was changed to the one we know now, the Zonda, which made its debut in 1999, some 7 years after Pagani first set up.
So it was to Mercedes Benz or Mercedes AMG as the engines are, that Horatio looked for his power units, the decision was taken by Pagani to use Mercedes power to honour his old friend Fangio, a simple but effective decision which has paid dividends, making the Pagani cars some of the fastest, most exciting cars we’ve ever seen.
Of course the engines built for Pagani by Mercedes AMG aren’t ‘off the shelf’ each one is built by hand and even signed by a technician that helped create the engine, as Merecedes AMG has a team of dedicated techincians working specially on Pagani engines, as they are not the same as any in Mercedes or AMG cars. The V12 engines fitted are what you would expect from a supercar with the looks of a Pagani, big and loud.
Having used Mercedes AMG engines since the start, Pagani has no intention to change what has worked so effectively for them so far, with the support of Mercedes AMG this marriage of convenience looks set to continue for a long time to come, good news for Supercar fans maybe not for other Supercar makers.
To Pagani the engineering and design of the cars go hand in hand, both their models can be described as beautiful, from the intricate design details to the overall shape of the car, it’s fair to say Horacio can consider himself an expert on automotive beauty. Indeed Mr Pagani has a soft spot for various cars from the past, including Ferrari’s from the 1960’s but Horacio’s favourites also include the Jaguar E-Type, one of the few non-italians on his list, introduced in 1961 it had the looks and the power, no surprise it’s amongst his favourites.
Of the other supercars from the past that Pagani lists is the Lamborghini Miura, a car that practically invented the supercar term, it was also one of the first high performance, mid-engined cars ever. No surprise he also includes the Lamborghini Countach, like the Pagani’s the Countach has a V12 engine powering it, often described as ‘wild’ with it’s styling, it remains a supercar icon, one Horacio clearly appreciates.
Describing it as ‘cool’, including the De Tomaso Pantera in his list, an Italian styled car that had an American engine may seem a little controversial but Horacio describes it as having the cool factor, indeed having an Italian styled car powered by an engine from elsewhere may have given Horacio the idea for his own supercars.
So to the Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing, like the Lamborghini Countach which Pagani also lists, the Gullwing was a styling icon of it’s age, indeed it’s doors gave inspiration to those on the Pagani Huayra folding upwards as well.
Horacio’s love and respect of supercars past & present from different manufacturers, not only those from Italy, show why Pagani has enjoyed success with their Mercedes AMG powered Italian supercars, all thanks to his old friend, ‘The Master’.
Now twenty year on from the famous Chassis #1 C25 of 1999, after various Zonda’s and Huayra’s, Pagani the man looks towards the future aware of the changes in the automotive world but as of yet no one has come knocking on the factory door for an electric Pagani so the next Supercar will have a traditional V12 engine, a car we can expect to see in about two years time. That’s not to say Pagani is not looking at electric hybrid power for it’s car’s, it has set up a whole division to design, test and build the units which will one day be a part of future models.
Horacio Pagani is a very humble, honest man, he talks of how the market in which his supercars sell as a very fragile one, in which a financial crash can affect a company such as his, to which he ensures the business is self sufficient therefore if sales drop following any kind of financial downturn in the markets Pagani could carry on regardless.
This is a man who despite having a personal car collection including Ferrari’s and Porsche’s, cycles the 3 miles to work most days, not purely from a health benefit but as a means of keeping things real, staying humble. Whilst speaking to Horacio Pagani you admire his passion and desire for what he does, a real gentleman who also takes time to ask what you do. Despite his position both within Pagani and within the automotive field, Horacio gives you the impression he would be happy to talk for hours about not just his cars but art, the world indeed probably most topics.
I shake his hand and thank him for his time, he thanks me also and leaves our conversation by inviting me to visit his factory in San Cesario Sul Panaro, Italy. I tell him I shall and look forward to meeting him again…