Together with components like the MHG titanium and inconel exhaust system that weighs only 22 lb, the weight distribution is 44/56% and the center-of-gravity is in front of the rear bulkhead. “This weight distribution helps reduce the tendency to oversteer on the limit,” said Horacio Pagani. “We build in some stabilizing understeer, but if a client has the skill, he can adjust the suspension accordingly.”

That strong central tub protects the occupants from the fuel tank and engine in a big crash. Potential fuel spillage was also reduced by placing the pumps and ECU inside the tank, with a single tube running to the fuel rail.

The front and rear subframes were built from ADV15 chrome-molydenum steel and bolted to the tub. They were designed to collapse progressively and can be easily replaced.

The immense strength and easy repairs was highlighted during US crash testing, where Pagani was able to use the same tub for the first seven of 14 mandatory tests because it emerged unscathed. “In fact, after the 35mph test, which is head-on into concrete, the windshield wasn’t even cracked,” said Luca Venturi from Pagani.

“When it came to the new engine, we started discussions with AMG in 2005,” Horacio explained. ‘We told them about the new car and asked what they had in the pipeline, since the Zonda’s V12 wouldn’t meet EU6 emissions laws that were looming. They proposed a tuned 700hp version of the M157 V8 bi-turbo motor that would be going into production.”

“We spoke to some customers and they all wanted a V12 or nothing. So AMG told us the V12 would need to be turbocharged to meet the new emissions and fuel economy targets,” Horacio continued.“However, I told them I also didn’t like turbochargers because of the lag, and that Pagani clients wanted the response of a big, naturally aspirated V12. So AMG announced it would be able to overcome these issues with an evolution of its M158 V12 bi-turbo engine.”

Horacio Pagani Pure Genius

We first met Horacio Pagani during the Zonda’s debut at the ’99 Geneva Auto Salon, where he calmly informed us his sensational supercar had EU type approval and was ready for production.

Exactly 12 years later, Pagani unveiled the Huayra (pronounced why-rah) at the ’11 Auto Salon, and he told us he’d begun work on the Zonda’s replacement, (known as Project C9), back in ’03.

Defying conventional wisdom for company startups, Pagani’s name now carries the gravitas of Ferrari and Lamborghini. “The turn of the 20th century saw a renaissance of the supercar,” Horacio explained. “The huge financial commitment from some major manufacturers gave us the Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari Enzo, Lamborghini Murciélago and Mercedes SLR McLaren. All raised the bar even higher, so we had to seriously reassess the competitiveness of our Zonda, which was designed in the early ’90s, frozen in ’94 and launched in ’99.

“In the course of thinking about its successor, we conceived a car with a different form, dimensions, technology and dynamics. It had to bear the Pagani hallmark, because our philosophy comes from the tenet of Leonardo da Vinci; that the disciplines of art and science must harmoniously coexist.”

Believing air is fundamental to his car in terms of aerodynamics, power and cooling, Pagani again named his creation after a wind. Where Zonda took its name from a strong wind in his native Argentina, Huayra comes from Huayra-tata, the god of wind worshipped in the Andes.

The car’s basic shape was longer, had a 70mm wider track and a more spacious cabin positioned 40mm back. It was given a supercar’s silhouette, using ellipses as a hallmark in the front and rear design. So the front air intake embraces a clear ellipse, with the headlights enclosed in smaller ones. At the rear, the central exhaust is another ellipse formed by the engine grille and the roof canopy.

“During the C9’s development, various Zonda models evolved in parallel, which showed us it was far from being obsolete when compared to newer rivals, as I had originally feared,” said Horacio. “So my teams worked on projects simultaneously to feed off each others findings. In the course of sharing engineering concepts, the Zonda R became a rolling laboratory for the Huayra, particularly in its suspension design.”

Excluding its powertrain, the Huayra is constructed from more than 4000 components. During the prototype stage, the 1100 titanium fixings used on the first mule cost 90,000 euros alone!

Thankfully, the volume needed for the production cars has reduced the sum dramatically, but it highlights that Pagani doesn’t compromise anything. “To create and assemble these parts requires creativity, patience and a passion I share with my fantastic team and the best industry partners I could ask for,” said Horacio, who can sometimes be found on the factory floor, assembling part of a customer’s car.

North American deliveries will begin in 2013 after the first cars being built have been shipped to Hong Kong later this year. It turns out, last year’s Pagani Far East dealer tour was wildly successful, so a new factory is being built to double the output from 20 to around 45 cars per year.

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