He went from small-time dreamer to supercar empresario
Imagine the wildest, craziest, most outlandish-looking car you’ve ever seen. Think of every supercar design trope plastered to a single body. For many pundits, the cars made by Horacio Pagani and his upstart brand fit that description to a tee.
Though the name ‘Pagani’ sounds Italian to its very core, this Pagani is actually from Argentina. He was born to Italian immigrants in a town called Casilda, which, today, has about 30,000 inhabitants. It’s not exactly the storybook beginning for an automotive legend. But despite this, he was smitten by the gearhead bug from an early age, and went on to study engineering before setting up his own small shop.
Pagani’s talents were recognized by Renault, who tasked him to re-body a formula car. In
1983, he left his home country and moved to Italy to work for Lamborghini. He was a big believer in the use of composite materials, and this heavily influenced the design of the Countach Evoluzione prototype. He decided to strike out on his own in 1991 with Modena Design, a firm focused on carbonfiber composites; the following year, Pagani Automobili was born.
It wasn’t until 1999, however, that Pagani unveiled his company’s first car, the Zonda. Powered by a mid-mounted V12 engine from Mercedes-AMG, it was inspired by jet fighters—after all, to compete with Lamborghini and Ferrari, you need something over the top as your peg. If you’ve never seen a Zonda, imagine a fictional cartoon car coming to life, complete with a quad-exhaust setup in middle, underneath a big spoiler.
Pagani’s next creation, the Huayra, arrived in 2011. Its design is subdued compared to the Zonda’s (but what isn’t?), shying away from the
’90s styling and moving toward a more modern interpretation. This one has a twin-turbo V12 also courtesy of Mercedes-AMG, and can reach speeds of almost 400kph. It is fitted with a ‘carbotanium’ body to ensure lightness. With active aerodynamics, it can achieve minimal drag or maximum downforce as needed.
From humble beginnings, Horacio Pagani has emerged as one of the world’s leading names in supercars, able to duke it out with other legendary companies with much more storied backgrounds. He has expressed his desire to continue producing cars in low volume to ensure exclusivity and preserve the artisanal process. Despite his knack for designing some of the world’s most cuttingedge machines, he has once said that one bit of technology he can never live without is a pen— because that’s the tool that brings his ideas and dreams to paper and, eventually, to life.