‘AT THE TECHNICAL LEVEL, PORSCHE IS THE GREATEST’
THE ESTABLISHMENT, RATED
MOST CAR-MAKERS ONLY ALLOW their own cars to be parked in front of HQ, and most car company bosses studiously avoid even mentioning the competition. But not Pagani. Horacio’s parking space outside his new factory is as likely to be occupied by his Porsche 918 or his Ferrari tdf or his Ford GT as by a Pagani. And he doesn’t conceal his lifelong enthusiasm for the other supercar makers just because he now competes with them.
Pagani on the Porsche 918
‘Porsche is the reference point when it comes to sports cars. It is the sports car maker. Ferrari is iconic, incredible, legendary. But at the technical and engineering level, Porsche is the greatest. Beyond doubt. I own a 918. I bought it because I like Porsche GT cars, even though I don’t like hybrids. But if you buy a car like that it’s not a rational choice. Why did I buy it? Because I love it, full stop. During the final tests for the Huayra BC at Imola we tested it against a 918. We said, “Which car is the standard that others are held up to now? Which hypercar of the last few years has the best performance?” We all agreed that it was the 918.’
On the Ferrari tdf
‘My Tour de France arrived recently. I drove it with a client a bit, and it started to sing. It sounded like Whitney Houston, it sang like Pavarotti, endless long notes ( sings). It gives you the goosebumps, it’s incredible. When I uncovered the car and I saw the Ferrari logo I had the urge to kiss it. Even telling the story now makes me emotional. It really hit me.
‘I drove them mad when I was ordering it, killed them, but they were excellent with me. Obviously, if you make 7,000 cars a year you can’t work personally with the clients like we do with our 40 clients. I got my wife, children and colleagues involved in the personalisation of the car, especially the design team. We did it the same way we did the Huayra. It was wonderful.’
On the Mercedes-AMG hypercar
‘I like the fact AMG is making a car with F1 technology. I will buy one. Mercedes has been incredible in its use of this technology, and it has shown that by winning F1. I think it’s fantastic that it is producing a supercar with that technology. Do you understand? I think it’s fantastic.’
On the Ford GT
‘I was the first to order it in Europe. In my view, the designer who created that car has very good little hands. I think it’s one of the most beautiful supercars of the last 20 years; one of the most original of the last 20 years. Have you driven one yet? Perhaps, the engine is a bit on the small side.’
On the McLaren P1
‘The McLaren building is truly incredible, fantastic, one of the most amazing factories I have ever seen. I have been twice to visit. The details are incredible. Ron Dennis was there to welcome me the first time, and then I spent an entire day there with Frank Stephenson, who is a lovely guy. I promise you, if the P1 hadn’t been hybrid and therefore weighed 1,4001,500 kg, I would have bought one.’
The technicians leave a gap between the subframes as they’re assembled. This is for the heart and soul of the car: that carbon tub. While the engine and gearbox and interior trim and paint are outsourced to other suppliers — and there’s no shortage of good ones in Supercar Valley — the carbon-fibre could only be done in-house. Its intelligent and beautiful use has defined Horacio’s career.
So in a room on the mezzanine (fewer dust particles than at ground level) held at a precise 20°C (to ensure perfect pliability of the pre-preg sheets of carbon-fibre) and reverberating to a bad 1980s rock station (Toto’s ‘Hold the Line’), about a dozen people, mainly women, press every curve of a Pagani into a mould by hand. Other cars might claim to be handmade, but panels are usually stamped out by a machine. On a Pagani, every sinew really has been formed by hand, the modern equivalent of the way a coach-builder would have shaped a panel with an English wheel in the past. The idea of having a stupid minor crash in one and asking these people to start that vast rear clamshell all over again is too embarrassing to contemplate.
It takes about three weeks for them to make the 250 carbon parts required for every car. The biggest components, such as that rear shell or the tub made of carbon-fibre reinforced with titanium threads, each take days to make. Building strength into stress points simply requires layering more strips of preciselytrimmed carbon-fibre fabric. Getting all the fibres to line up perfectly across a huge and complex shape like a rear shell for a car that will be left naked requires witchcraft. Yet nobody works to a plan; they seem to have memorised how to build up every
part. Pagani can train people from scratch, and looks for applicants with hobbies requiring precision, but most of the workers here have come from other local carbon-fibre shops, such as the Ferrari Formula One team’s. Once finished, the parts are put in vacuum bags for 24 hours, then slow-cooked in batches in the vast autoclave for up to 10. Then they’re trimmed, polished and checked before being sent out to be painted, and returned to the factory to be attached to the car.
It is a relatively simple process. Even a low-volume car-maker like Rolls-Royce needs complex productionmanagement techniques: at Pagan it here isn’t as wipe card or barcode in sight. In contrast to the other CEOs who talk endlessly of expansion, Horacio would like to keep things this way.
‘We arrived in 1999. That was the starting point; day one. Without any financial support it was a very, very difficult task. But we believed in it and we did it. Not only created a new way of building cars, but created a name. Now we could create a second line of cars, thousands more, to increase our profits to €500 million (Rs 3,600 crore) a year. But I don’t give a damn about that kind of thing. We never wanted to be a second Ferrari or Lamborghini. With respect to the love and passion for Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and the motor history of Modena, we want to be something small but intelligent. We want to be here, in our place.’
In contrast to the other CEOs who talk endlessly of expansion, Horacio wants to stay small
Zonda R trumps a few dusty pot plants and a grumpy receptionist Panels are checked here and any imperfections weeded out
Life imitating art imitating the state of the art
Cobbles were designed by Horacio himself
Quad pipes a trademark, as is outrageously pretty detailing