Tuesday, May 27, 2008

May 2008 Dream Car of the Month - Pagani Zonda

Zonda S 7.3

Horatio Pagani was born in Argentina to Italian parents in a family of bakers. Early in life he became fascinated with automobiles and automotive engineering. His attempts to formally study engineering did not provide him with the hands on work he desired so he decided to teach himself by studying the writings and life of Leonardo da Vinci.

He opened a shop making chairs and tooling for bending tubes and later started building travel trailers including suspensions of his own design. As a result of his experience in working with fiberglass, he was asked to create a race car body which he did in just three weeks and resulted in a second place finish. After that experience, he decided to build his own race car completely from scratch. He designed and built every part himself and the car resulted in three others being built for customers. More importantly, the cars got the attention of Juan Manuel Fangio who befriended him and helped his career.

Pagani decided to move to Italy and pursue his dream of making cars. He landed a job with Lamborghini doing odd jobs like sweeping floors at first. He left and worked for other companies around Modena designing components due to his prior experience with composites from his work with his trailer business. He later returned to Lamborghini as a consultant and eventually became manager of Lamborghini's composite department.

After leaving Lamborghini in 1988, he founded Pagani Composite Research which worked with Lamborghini on several projects including the design of the 25th Anniversary Countach and the Diablo. He always wanted to design and build his own cars so he began designing what was called the C8. Fangio did some initial testing of the car which Pagani wanted to call the Fangio F1 however, out of respect, Pagani decided against it after Fangio's death in 1995. The name was then changed to Zonda.

The Pagani Zonda C12 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999. The car featured a Mercede Benz V12 producing 402HP/421TQ and could reach 210MPH. The body was almost entirely built of carbon fiber resulting in a relatively low curb weight. Acceleration to 60 required only 4.2 seconds and 100 in 8.2. The 1/4 mile was gone in 12.1 seconds and the car could pull .93 g on the skidpad and stop from 60 in 110 feet. Five of these C12s were built between 1999 and 2002 at a price of $320,000US. Of those one was crash tested and another was the show car. The rest were delivered to customers.

In 2000 the C12S was designed as an upgraded version of the original car with altered aerodynamics and a new engine. The C12S was produced from 2001 to 2002 and cost $350,000US. The car now featured an AMG modified Mercedes 7.0L V12 producing 542HP and capable of 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and the 1/4 mile in 11.3 seconds. The C12S was lighter than the standard C12 and could reach 220MPH with the proper aero configuration.

The Zonda C12S 7.3 was introduced in 2002 and continued in production until 2005. The now 7.3L AMG V12 now produced 547HP/553TQ requiring traction control. A roadster version of the 7.3L car was also introduced in a limited production capacity.

Zonda F

2005 saw the introduction of the Zonda F (Fangio) which was a thoroughly updated car featuring 594HP, even more carbon fiber and weight reduction along with adjustable aerodynamics. The Zonda F is currently the production car record holder on the famous Nurburgring where it posted a 7 minute 27 second lap, beating the previous record held by a Porsche Carrera GT.

The Zonda R Clubsport was shown at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show and is more of a track only type of car much like the Ferrari FXX and the Maserati MC12. The car is similar in design to the original Zonda but 90% of the car is entirely new. It features a 750HP/532TQ V12 and a 6 speed transverse sequential transaxle. The body is 15.5 inches longer and 2 inches wider than the original Zonda and the wheelbase has been extended by 1.2 inches. It is expected that the R will cost upwards of $1.2 million US.

Zonda R

The Zonda R is believed to be a test bed for the upcoming Zonda replacement codenamed C9, to be unveiled in 2009. Some rumors suggest that Pagani is also testing an AMG V8 powered car instead of the V12. When it is finally released, the C9 will be the first Zonda that will be fully legal for sale in the US. Prior versions did not meet EPA/DOT approval.

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