OP­PO­SITES AT­TRACT

Ever since the ‘60s, the Mini has found favour among all walks of life. We found out if it could repeat the trick with leg­endary hypercar builder, Pagani.

Mini Magazine - - Contents - Words Jeff Rug­gles Pho­tog­ra­phy Stephen Col­bran

We travel to Mo­dena in Italy to check out the lat­est ad­di­tion to the Pagani fleet, a 1998 Rover Mini Cooper Sport.

When we say we’re in Italy’s fa­mous Mo­tor Val­ley re­gion to speak to Ho­ra­cio Pagani, the ge­nius behind the leg­endary Zonda and Huayra hy­per­cars, you’d be for­given for think­ing we’ve got our mag­a­zines con­fused. With their stun­ning mix of tech­nol­ogy, beauty, per­for­mance and in­cred­i­ble at­ten­tion to de­tail, Pagani’s cre­ations are among the most revered and ex­clu­sive in the world. And yet, here we are to talk to him on rather more fa­mil­iar terms about the lat­est ad­di­tion to the Pagani fam­ily fleet – a hum­ble Rover Mini Cooper.

But be­fore we meet Ho­ra­cio, we‘re im­me­di­ately bowled over by Pagani’s awe-in­spir­ing new premises. It’s an in­cred­i­ble fa­cil­ity where the fac­tory floor has been de­signed to recre­ate a tra­di­tional Ital­ian pi­azza, and even the sink basins and taps in the toi­lets are made from car­bon-fi­bre!

It hasn’t al­ways been this way of course. When Ho­ra­cio first

pitched up at Lam­borgh­ini in 1982 on the rec­om­men­da­tion of For­mula One leg­end Juan Manuel Fan­gio, he had lit­tle more than a push­bike and a tent to his name – the con­tin­u­a­tion of an in­spir­ing tale that had be­gun in his na­tive Ar­gentina.

Born in a small town with no real cul­ture for de­sign or cars, he was in­spired by his par­ents’ love of the arts. His mother was a painter and played the piano, while his fa­ther, who worked as a baker, was keen on jazz. But at the age of six or seven he be­gan to pay more at­ten­tion to the cars on the lo­cal streets, and be­came fas­ci­nated by their en­gi­neer­ing and dy­nam­ics. The balsa wood mod­els he made still sit proudly on dis­play to­day.

ART VS SCIENCE

As he en­tered his teens, Ho­ra­cio was faced with the dilemma of whether to ei­ther ded­i­cate him­self to the arts or pur­sue a more sci­en­tific ed­u­ca­tion. It was at this point he would read a mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle that would de­fine his life. It in­cluded Leonardo Da Vinci’s Re­nais­sance claim that art and science could ‘walk to­gether hand in hand’, and it’s this phi­los­o­phy that has in­flu­enced Ho­ra­cio and his com­pany’s work ever since. The aes­thet­ics alone for the Huayra took five years to de­velop, and ev­ery sin­gle com­po­nent could jus­ti­fi­ably be mounted in a dis­play case.

Though his ap­proach would ap­pear to be at odds with Alec Is­sigo­nis’ be­lief in form solely through func­tion, there are strik­ing par­al­lels. Both men left their na­tive coun­try at a young age, and in the Mini and Zonda, both have cre­ated cars that are the ob­ses­sive works of a sole in­di­vid­ual. Tech­nol­ogy has moved on im­mea­sur­ably since Is­sigo­nis first sketched the Mini, but there’s still room for a proper draft­ing ta­ble in Ho­ra­cio’s of­fice.

While eye­ing up fan­tas­tic Pagani cre­ations past and present, in­clud­ing a For­mula Two sin­gle-seater racer de­signed when Ho­ra­cio was just 23, we’re greeted by his son, Christo­pher. The Mini is his new daily drive, pur­chased from Marco Pin­zauti at Just Minis in Mi­lan. It’s not the first time an iconic Ital­ian car­maker has been as­so­ci­ated with the Mini of course – it’s no se­cret that Enzo Fer­rari was a big fan – but this isn’t the ‘60s any­more. Here is a car orig­i­nally de­signed as a util­i­tar­ian trans­port, and seem­ingly the com­plete op­po­site of the rest of the ex­ot­ica sur­round­ing us. What role did it play in Pagani’s world? The an­swers would sur­prise and de­light us.

Thank you for tak­ing the time to talk to us. What are your first mem­o­ries of the Mini?

Ho­ra­cio: There was a mag­a­zine in Ar­gentina named Au­to­mundo. It nor­mally fea­tured rac­ing cars, with a few pages ded­i­cated to mo­tor­sport in Europe – For­mula One and so on. When a new car was com­ing out, they also had a few pages cov­er­ing it. I was born in 1955, and started read­ing these mag­a­zines when I was about 10 years old. I’d seen that the Mini Cooper was win­ning ral­lies like the Monte Carlo against much big­ger and more ex­otic cars, and I fell in love with the de­sign. It was small but very clever. And of course, Cooper was known for build­ing the first F1 rac­ing car with the en­gine in the back. It was very emo­tional to see Mini and Cooper to­gether – it was a per­fect com­bi­na­tion.

A 1998 MPi Cooper Sport, the Pagani Mini is in great con­di­tion.

Ho­ra­cio, Christo­pher and Marco dis­cuss Mini me­chan­ics - a lit­tle more ba­sic than a V12 AMG mo­tor!

The main man him­self, Ho­ra­cio Pagani.

Not quite as low-slung as a Zonda...

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