Select Page

The Real Story Behind Pagani – HotCars

by Oct 29, 2022Blog0 comments

Based in Modena, Pagani Automobili produces incredible sports cars that the world’s richest gearheads are proud to own.
As an automaker, Pagani’s story is quite remarkable. For starters, Pagani is currently the only Italian supercar maker still standing as an independent company, unlike how Lamborghini sold out to Audi or Ferrari that’s now a publicly traded company. With the marque entirely under the control of its founder, the creative and design direction isn't chained to the regulatory and profit-driven requirements of a conglomerate or public company.
The company restricted production to just 50 a year, while Ferrari and Lamborghini increased production to make money for shareholders. Pagani’s founder saw carbon fiber as the future of high-performance supercars and was already experimenting with it before Formula One cultivated the lightweight polymer.
The result is that Pagani cars are as incredibly fast as they are gorgeous. With only about 400 cars built in its three decades of existence, the company isn’t as big as the Prancing Horse or Raging Bull, but still building with such raw insanity that Ferrari and Lamborghini used to have before getting caught in the corporate trap. And yes, Pagani is still in business, with new models slated for release in the coming years.
Related: 10 Greatest Supercars Of The 21st Century
Born 10 November 1955, Horacio Pagani is an Argentine-Italian businessman and automotive engineer who worked at Lamborghini and Renault before founding Pagani Automobili S.p.A in 1992.
With the Pagani Zonda as the first fruit of the new company, Pagani cars sell for millions of dollars, and not as aftermarket models, although some pre-owned Paganis have changed hands for up to ten to twenty million dollars at auctions. It’s an interesting turn of events for the Argentine-born and raised Horacio, whose dad was a baker from Italy.
Although he caught the engineering bug in the country of his birth, Horacio Pagani knew from the onset he needed to trace his roots back to Italy to be in the right environment for his dreams to fester. He honed his engineering skills in a small 80 sq-m-shop he opened at an early age in Argentina in 1977 called “Factory.” There, he designed and built his first car – an F3 racer – when he was 20 years old.
However, Horacio Pagani caught his first real break when Renault hired him to refine the body of a race car, allowing him to really showcase his talents. In 1982, he finally moved to Italy to pursue his supercar dreams, and there, he met Lamborghini's then-chief technical director Giulio Alfieri. He got a job sweeping the floor at Lamborghini, but moved up the ladder until he became the head engineer, overseeing many Lambo projects, including the P140, Diablo, and Countach Evoluzione prototypes.
Those who claim that Pagani exists in the first place because Lamborghini didn’t care about carbon fiber truly have a solid point. Realizing that carbon fiber was the future, Horacio tried to convince the decision-makers at Lamborghini to invest in an autoclave to expand its production of carbon fiber components for the Evoluzione. But, Lamborghini’s bosses didn’t see the need, perhaps because their arch-rival, Ferrari, didn't have an autoclave either.
But, Horacio Pagani, obsessed with the idea of building carbon fiber-bodied incredibly lightweight cars, took a bank loan and bought the autoclave himself in 1987. Thus, in 1988, Horacio Pagani, who managed Lamborghini’s composite department, founded Pagani Composite Research and worked on many Lamborghini projects, including the restyled Countach 25th Anniversary Edition.
Horacio Pagani began designing his own car in the late 1980s, calling it the C8 Project. He’d later rename the prototype “Fangi F1” in honor of the Argentinean five-time F1 winner, Juan Manuel Fangio. At this point, Horacio Pagani had grown into a recognized name in automotive engineering and design, giving him the impetus to establish a company called Modena Design to meet the increasing demand for carbon fiber composites used in F1 cars and by automakers such as Ferrari, Daimler, and Aprilia.
Modena Design would later morph into Pagani Automobili, a small factory that made hand-built supercars. With the construction beginning in 1992, the Fangio F1 prototype (later renamed the Pagani Zonda after the wind blowing over the Andes) was halfway home in 1994 after Mercedes-Benz agreed to a deal for its AMG V12 engines.
Seven years later, Pagani unveiled the $2.3 million Zonda C12 at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. Over the years, the Zonda has spurned several million-dollar special editions, including the three HP Barchettas, one of which set a customer back some $14.5 million right out the gate.
Related: These Are The 10 Most Expensive Supercars On The Market Today
A Pagani is super-exclusive because it's so over the top with manufacturer's overall details, such that only a few wealthy collectors can afford and appreciate the true worth of the machine. The Zonda R set a new record on June 30, 2010, when it completed the Nürburgring in 6:47, ahead of the Ferrari 599XX. The automaker tripled its production volume to enter the U.S. market in 2007.
In 2013, Pagani offered an 800-hp AMG V12-powered Zonda Revolucion toting a $2.2 million price tag to match. The model line wrapped up with the $23.65 million HP Barchetta, with only three produced, including the one in Horacio Pagani’s personal collection. You see, the Barchetta, unveiled in 2017, should’ve been the last Zonda among the numerous special editions. In 2019, the Italian automaker said it'll henceforth make only variants of the hypercar based on existing chassis.
Also, in 2022, the London-based 3D modeling and graphics company LMM Design teased a new Zonda via their Instagram page. The company revealed it is creating the full specification for what will be the “fifth final entry into Pagani’s insane 760 Series.” Neither LMM Design nor Pagani has muted how much the new car will cost the client, but one need not look far to make a calculated guess.
After all, it's been less than a year since Lewis Hamilton exchanged his ultra-rare Pagani Zonda 760 LH for $11.5 million. Interestingly, the F1 champion claimed the one-off supercar is “terrible to drive" despite being "the best-sounding car I own" while making nearly $9.5 million in profit after about eight years of owning the car.
Moving on, the Zonda refuses to die a permanent death, even though its ten-year-old replacement, the Pagani Huayra, is getting usurped by an all-new model. If you have the cash, the Italian marque will build you a Zonda like Lewis Hamilton’s 760LH from the 760 Series. Along with the incoming hypercars, Pagani is also developing an all-new naturally breathing V12 for the Huayra R in partnership with HWA AG, the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR’s builders.
Philip Uwaoma, this bearded black male from Nigeria, is fast approaching two million words in articles published on various websites, including,, and After not getting credit for his work on Auto Quarterly, Philip is now convinced that ghostwriting sucks. He has no dog, no wife- yet- and he loves Rolls Royce a little too much.