Pagani brings haute couture to the roads

Pagani lifts the price stakes at Zagame Automotive

HORACIO Pagani is a man on a mission. He’s spent 20 years designing, developing and delivering some of the most exotic and desirable sports cars to the world’s most discerning sports car collectors. And it’s for those people that he wants to keep lifting the bar.

Pagani is a person of interest to Madam Wheels not just because he’s found a portal through which to bring his other-worldly vehicles to the Australian market. But his hand-built creations are classified as hypercars, considered the peak of automotive capability which present as the fastest, and most powerful and expensive vehicles around. 

These rigs are generally so souped-up that they can’t legally take to public roads. Not so for Pagani’s mean-machines, however, which are claimed to be the first street-legal hypercars available in Australia. It was worth being at the official opening of Pagani’s first and only dealership in Australia, in Melbourne’s Zagame Automotive stable - one of just 24 Pagani dealerships in the world - just to see them.

But I was also keen to meet Pagani himself because all of his cars - though there aren’t many of them - command asking prices of at least $A5 million. That’s an incredible feat when you think about it, identifying a permanent - and growing - market of people willing to pay that sort of money for a car. Or two.

'If you’re paying $5.5 million for a car, would you really want to take it out and expose it to the general population?'

Pagani describes his astonishing new, all-carbon-fibre Huarya Roadster, which is the centrepiece off the Zagame Pagani showroom, as “the elegant woman” of the Italian brand. I asked him if that might lead more women to being among the buyers of the one to two cars a year the brand expects to sell in Australia each year. Through an interpreter, the Argentinian-Italian speaker says he doesn’t know, but Pagani Automobili has female customers in the US and Europe.

The Huarya Roadster is certainly something to look at - think of it as “the haute couture of automobiles” - and that alone will appeal to some ladies. Anyone could be excused for having an emotional experience when in the presence of a car like this. The layer upon layer of minutely considered detail result in an exquisite creation that defies description. Even the smallest screw is designed to be both beautiful and functional, Pagani says.

It’s obviously worth the spend for those in pursuit of attaining the near-impossible because, of the 30 to 40 cars made each year, they all sell - usually years in advance. Pagani says he feels “a great responsibility” to take care of the “very fine, low-profile collectors” which return year after year for another car.

“The team is dedicated to creating the best bespoke cars you can buy today,” he says. “This is the motivation … to continually improve and be dedicated to every client in terms of beautiful design, safety in the cars, the performance and the beauty of the driving experience found in the Pagani brand.”

Because the cars are so rare - each one takes four months to hand-build and only 100 of each model is made - none of them depreciate in price, according to Zagame Automotive Group’s managing director, Bobby Zagame. Like precious art, these cars are considered investment pieces that continue to grow in value over time. 

But the Huarya is more than a car. “This is a synthesis of art, jewellery and technology coming together to create the ultimate automotive masterpiece,” Zagame says. “A true collector’s piece.” 

Which begs the question: if you’re paying $5.5 million for a car, would you really want to take it out and expose it to the general population? Bad things happen out there, as Madam Wheels discovered the other day while driving another outstanding (in every way) sports car, this one a Lamborghini Huracán Performante. High-performance cars attract a lot of attention on Australian roads (and I’m not just talking about people leaping out on to the street in front of you to take photos with their smart phones, though that happens. A lot). My guess is a Pagani is going be like a red flag to the bull in those people. I’d keep the thing locked up.

'Anyone could be excused for having an emotional experience when in the presence of a car like this.'

The Huayra is named after the god of wind, a force used to good effect on this car. A fully computerised “Active Aerodynamic System” directs airflow to keep the car grounded and the bottom of the vehicle always parallel to the road. That’s incredibly reassuring, given the Huayra is powered by the Mercedes-AMG M158 engine, a twin-turbo, 12-cylinder beast capable of stupid speeds and delivering a driving experience as relaxing or electrifying as you wish. It even comes with two, interchangeable roofs, depending on the conditions you’re likely to be driving in.

Zagame says he’s been besotted by the Pagani brand for almost 15 years following a visit to the Pagani factory in Italy’s famed Motor Valley (so named because the Emiglia Romagna region is also home to Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati) where he ended up driving Pagani’s first model, the Zonda, around the back streets of Modena. “I dreamt back then of one day bringing Pagani to Australia,” he says.

It was a pivotal moment in the life of a man who would go on to build an automotive group which today houses 13 luxury car brands, among them Rolls Royce, McLaren and Aston Martin. Pagani is the jewel in his crown.

Pagani says he remembers Zagame’s visit well. “I recall him as a hard-working man full of dreams, full of passion, though he didn’t have white hair yet,” he says.

Perhaps the white hair is not surprising given how many expensive cars Zagame  now must need to shift across all those fancy marques to keep his dream alive. 

Pagani, anyone?