Photo by: Pagani

HORACIO PAGANI

Automotive exotica

His first workshop was in a small room at home, where he made car models out of wood and Nesquik tins; later, at the age of fourteen, he discovered the world of Leonardo da Vinci. Having explored the legacy of the greatest genius of the Renaissance, who made a perfect combination of art and science, Horacio Pagani firmly decided what he wanted to do when he grew up.

I’m going to Modena to design the most beautiful car in the world, he announced to his parents, who perhaps did not believe him at first. However, ten years later he dropped out of college that was full of armed soldiers parading around its classrooms and left his native Argentina – a land suffocated by the military dictatorship – for Italy, where he arrived with a suitcase full of ideas and plans. Armed with a letter of recommendation written by the great Juan Manuel Fangio, he went on to contact Ferrari, De Tomaso, Alfa Romeo, Osella and Lamborghini, but times were tough. The oil crisis left its mark, and only in his second attempt did he get his break in Sant’Agata Bolognese. Giulio Alfieri hired the determined young man, who was ready to sweep the floors and water the flowers just to become part of Lamborghini.

And, in the beginning, that is exactly what he did; however, his talent and hard work did not go unnoticed. He soon got a place in the Experimental Bodywork Department, where, among other things, he collaborated with Gian Paolo Dallara. In the following years he worked on developing cars that were to become Lamborghini’s iconic models: the LM002 truck, the 25th Anniversary Countach and the first editions of the Diablo. Having found out about all the advantages of carbon fibre, he very quickly surpassed what Lamborghini was doing and went out on his own in 1991.

Halfway between Sant’Agata Bolognese and Maranello, in the small town of San Cesario sul Panaro, he first founded Modena Design, followed by Pagani Automobili, and his dream started to become reality. The Zonda debuted at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show, the Huayra was presented to public in 2011, and in late 2017 a new facility was opened in San Cesario, which produces the most exclusive and desired super sports cars in the world. When he first arrived in Italy with his then girlfriend Cristina Perez, who is now his wife, Horacio spent several months living in a tent on the shores of Lake Como with two suitcases and two bicycles; today he owns a company with an annual turnover of 60 million euros.

I’ve never been an exceptional individual, but hard work, sacrifices and dedication have made it possible for me to accomplish what I dreamed of as a child. My father was a baker and working hard is something I inherited from him; my mother painted and taught me to love beauty and art; and I’m just a proof that if you have a clear idea in your mind, you can make it work, says the 63-year-old Horacio modestly, looking back at his life while we scrutinise the Zonda HP Barchetta. It is the first of just three to be produced and, despite the astonishing offers that have reached 12 million euros, it is not for sale. The reason? The Barchetta is intended for Horacio himself.

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