From a bicycle to the Zonda: the inspiring story of Horacio Pagani
Inspired by Da Vinci and close friends with Fangio, Horacio Pagani has become a legend of the supercar world.Neil Churchill February 22, 2015
Who doesn’t love a rags to riches tale? We’re rather fond of them here at EDGAR, and while we’ve brought you some great examples in the past, the tale of Horacio Pagani might just be our favourite to date.
From moulding cars out of flour and water to creating some of the world’s greatest hypercars and building a business valued at AED 1.3 billion, Horacio Pagani’s story is an inspiring one.
The son of an Argentinian baker – who himself was descended from Italian emigrants – Horacio moved to Italy in 1983 with the sole purpose of working in the automotive world.
With no possessions to his name except a tent to sleep in and a letter of recommendation in his pocket, it was a bold move. That letter however, was from none other than Juan Manuel Fangio; a countryman and friend of Pagani’s and one of the greatest racing drivers of all time.
Thanks to his famous connection, Horacio secured a job at Lamborghini as a third level employee. Before long however, he was promoted to the role of chief engineer, leaving an indelible mark on the supercar world when he built the Countach; one of Lamborghini’s greatest ever models.
Despite his status as a superb engineer and pioneering thinker secured, Horacio failed to persuade his employer to make use of an autoclave with the purpose of the company producing its own carbon parts.
Lamborghini said that if Ferrari didn’t need one, neither did they. But that type of rejection merely served as fuel for a man who once only had a bicycle for transport – a bicycle he still keeps in his office.
Borrowing enough capital to buy his own autoclave, in 1991 Pagani left Lamborghini to start his own business, Modena Design. With the autoclave at his fingertips, Horacio began making carbon fibre composites for both Formula One cars and road cars, including Ferrari. It was only a matter of time until, and it was no surprise when, Horacio founded Pagani Automobili Modena in 1992. Seven years later and the Pagani Zonda was born.
Horacio’s relationship with Fangio left an indelible mark on Pagani and in turn on his company. After the legendary driver helped with the engineering of the Zonda, Pagani named a racing version of the car ‘Zonda F’, with the logo, design concept and name dedicated to the legendary driver. It is also understood Horacio went to AMG as the engine supplier after recommendation from the great racer.
Better described as a hypercar rather than a supercar, using an AMG 7-litre V12 engine, the Zonda F produced 650 horsepower, sending the car from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds, and giving it a top speed of 345 km/h. With the production run lasting 12 years, Pagani kept the number of Zondas limited to 135, ensuring its claim of exclusivity, as well as great appreciation value.
Answering customer demand and sticking to his word, Pagani followed the Zonda in 2012 with a new hypercar: the Huayra.
Costing AED 5.8 million each, the Huayra more closely resembles a space rocket than a car. It uses a 6-litre V12 twin-turbo engine producing 730 horsepower, and looks like something from another planet.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the Huayra had sold out. As part of the agreement with engine supplier AMG, the car run was limited to just 100 models. The motoring world now waits with baited breath for Pagani’s third car. A man who has been heavily influenced by the teachings of Leonardo Da Vinci - it was the artist’s quote “Art and science can work hand in hand” that inspired him all those years ago – Horacio Pagani is now one of the most respected and revered names in the automotive world.
Working from his office in Modena, the cars he once moulded out of flour and water from his father’s baking business are encased; given pride of place at Pagani HQ. So is Fangio’s letter of recommendation.
Recently, Horacio made a horizontal move, setting up Pagani Arte to take care of all non-car related projects. While this is unlikely to mean Pagani hats, polo shirts and shoes – a.k.a. the Ferrari method – don’t be surprised to see this Argentinian genius put his name to boats and even a hotel or two.
Whatever the future holds for Horacio Pagani, it will surely only further solidify his life story as one for the ages.