Why Pagani is so different - The inside story behind the exclusive Italian supercar brand

Pagani is the last independently owned Italian supercar brand. Lamborghini belongs to Audi and Ferrari is now a listed entity, but Pagani remains under the control of its founder, Horacio.

We sat down with Pagani's head of Middle-East and Africa, Mansour Al Yasin, in Cape Town to better understand what make these cars so valued and desirable. He is currently accompanying a promotional Huayra Roadster BC on its South African marketing tour.

The company's history is remarkable. Horacio Pagani traced his Italian roots after a childhood in Argentina, chasing a dream to design the world’s best supercar. He understood that advanced composite materials would be the future, and before Formula 1 had even started embracing carbon-fibre, Pagani was honing his skills with carbon-fibre.

Since 2000, Pagani has only built 400 cars. It limits production to less than 50 units a year, unlike Lamborghini and Ferrari, which have increased production volume to meet corporate revenue targets for shareholders.

Pagani Huayra Roadster BC

2020 Pagani Huayra Roadster BC. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

Carbon-fibre and other detail

The moment you take station in a Pagani, the level of detailing encountered, is unworldly. All the tabs and switches are milled by hand and have that positive mechanical feedback lacking in most modern switch gear.

Perhaps the most telling feature of Pagani's obsession with industrial design purity is the company's bolts. They could all be steel, but are titanium, saving a negligible amount of weight. Each bolt also has 'Pagani' engraved around the head.

With a combination of lightness, strength and direction compliance, Pagani's carbon-fibre is produced in the company's factory. This guarantees some unique properties.

You simply won’t see the same carbon-weave fibre alignment, even rounding curved shapes, with any other supercar. Pagani's carbon-fibre also features titanium-reinforced threads.

Pagani Huayra Roadster BC

2020 Pagani Huayra Roadster BC. Image: Pagani Media

How the Pagani-AMG V12 happened

Since its first Zonda in 1999, the large naturally-aspirated V12 has been an anchor feature of Pagani's product portfolio. But how did a tiny Italian company manage to get a deal sealed with AMG? Pagani was going to use Lamborghini’s 60-degree V12, but it was a heavy engine, featuring a cylinder block design from the 1960s.

Fortuitous intervention came from multiple F1 world champion, Argentina's Juan-Manuel Fangio, who had extensive contacts within Mercedes-Benz.After casually discussing engine options for the Zonda, Pagani benefitted from Fangio's immense influence at Mercedes-Benz during the 1990s. The famous Argentine driver convinced a very conservative AMG engine department, to take a risk on an unknown Italian supercar start-up. The rest is history.

Pagani Huayra Roadster BC

2020 Pagani Huayra Roadster BC. Image: Pagani Media

Consulting to Airbus

The company’s deep expertise with composites and exotic leather-making has enabled it to run a tidy consulting business. One of Pagani’s most interesting projects, outside of supercars, has been its interior design input on the Airbus A319 Neo business jet. It features a fantastic custom cabin, with the quality of materials and design that you’ll find Pagani’s current Huayra Roadster BC.

Commitment to manual

Pagani values the product feedback from its incredibly loyal customers. Horacio knows each customer and considers their desires valuable. This is the reason that Pagani's next-generation hypercar, the as-yet-unnamed C10-series, will feature a manual transmission.

In a market where virtually all British, Italian and German supercars are now only available with a dual-clutch or automated manual transmission, the promise of Pagani keeping the manual alive, is heartening and typical of its independent streak.

Pagani Huayra Roadster BC
2020 Pagani Huayra Roadster BC. Image: Pagani Media
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