‘AT THE TECH­NI­CAL LEVEL, PORSCHE IS THE GREAT­EST’

THE ES­TAB­LISH­MENT, RATED

Car India - - FEATURE -

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

Cob­bles were de­signed by Ho­ra­cio him­self

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

Quad pipes a trade­mark, as is out­ra­geously pretty de­tail­ing

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