The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Midsummer's Day quick story


This summer sucks on so many levels.
The end.

A rare and somewhat misunderstood BMW Z1 in Bologna downtown in a rare moment of sun so far.
I know better about it.



From dictionary.refference.com

SUMMER:  
3 a period of hot, usually sunny weather
 ...
5 the period of finest development, perfection, or beauty previous to any decline: the summer of life


All Watermarked Pictures and Words Copyright: Damiano Garro for The Italian Junkyard
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Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 Vanishing Point: Pagani Zonda LM, bespoke endurance racing at its finest


With the introduction in June last year of the already featured Zonda Revoluciòn, something more needed to be done on the road going side of the Zonda world. The Zonda itself takes its roots back to the good old Group C days, an era of monstrous prototypes that could spank Formula 1 cars, with the added bonus of being raced at the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. The only racing effort of a Pagani car, and a completely unofficial one, saw a Zonda race car, called the Zonda GR, enter at Sebring and Le Mans in 2003, with very little success, and giving it a try again at the 2004 Le Mans test days, only to retire from the actual event because of a crash during a test at the Vallelunga race track prior to the race. To this day, the Zonda GR is still raced in Eastern Europe with somewhat decent results, finished in a green and black livery. Little is left from the original 2003/2004 version.

Here it is at Sebring 2003, Le Mans 2003, Le Mans Test days 2004 and at Hockenheim about 10 days ago.


So while Pagani was always adamant there were no racing intentions for the Zonda, race cars always offered inspiration. One might say the Zonda 760 RS was quite enough of a road going race car, as one Lewis Hamilton might say referring to his own Zonda LH, but apparently there is at least one customer that wanted something more. Take the Zonda 760 series and it monstrous 760+ BHP engine, 7 speed actuated gearbox and revised aero, add a stronger Le Mans flavor, build a completely new and so far bespoke front end almost directly taken from the Revoluciòn, a modified rear end plus a new massive wing, new headlights and some other bits and bites, and you get the brand new Pagani Zonda LM. LM obviously standing for Le Mans. Another good name would have been Zonda Monstrous Beast edition, or even the Pagani "I want one now" Zonda. You get it.


The car was already spotted in Andorra where its registered and at Pagani factory of course, but it was yet to completed in all its details. Now the customer can fully enjoy his new ultimate Zonda in all its glory, and what best occasion than a private rally around Italy with other customers and Pagani entourage? Added bonus, this is the 10th anniversary of the first Vanishing Point Pagani meeting, and it's probably still ongoing right now as I write.

Full disclosure, I said the event is private, indeed only customers, partners and friends are invited. While taking pictures outside of Pagani headquarter, I noticed people coming and going from the showroom, people clearly not part of the event and not invited. So I walked in, wondering if indeed it was OK. No one seem to bother, so I took a couple of shots of the blue Pagani Huayra #001, the first production car. A few seconds later, I was kindly shown the door. I felt so bad for it, so let me post my apologies here in public, my bad.


As you can see the front of the car is modeled after Le Mans prototypes, perhaps those from the more recent years rather than those pointy ends on the cars from the 80s and 90s. The new headlights are a complete departure from the usual Pagani design, with now all four elements under a single cover reminiscent once again of LM prototypes. A new LED DRL element is visible too. While I think the new front ads some freshness to the Zonda profile and nicely integrates in it, there is quite some gap between the front clam and the cockpit/windshield, but perhaps that was done on purpose for ventilation reasons, indeed you can spot two massive radiator fans underneath it. Autofocus played a fast one on me this time and I didn’t notice at first, an almost useless picture is the result.


As for the other major modifications, the rear end was adapted, rather than built from scratch as the overall design seems quite the same, to integrate a lower spoiler and additional tail lights quite similar to those found in the Zonda R and Revoluciòn, this time though they feature a built-in spoiler too. The main wing is massive, even more than the 760 series and mimicking that from the Revoluciòn cars, but this time the side planes/pillars have a more complex design. Maybe it’s the less homogenous feture of the car, but not something I’d call a deal breaker for sure. As for the interior, it seemed pretty much standard issue, except for the chrome finish of the metal plaques, something else I’d rather do without.


The thing is, this car is the result of the dedication of Pagani to provide customers and the automotive world with yet another gem, and a customer willing to get his dream car completely tailored according to his liking. Apparently he also owns the Zonda Cinque Roadster #1/5 also featured at the gathering and a Zonda R too. I might add that some Zonda Rs are presently being updated to Revoluciòn specs, for good measure.
Even if the result may or may not be our first choice, we should be simply happy that there are people out there willing to commission, and to build, such bespoke and extreme creations. The same goes for the ever growing Ferrari Special Projects program, some of their cars are awesome, other less so, but it’s simply exciting that they exist. So now you just have to go out and make some millions, no more excuses separating you from your ultimate supercar!


I also feel like Italian companies are better at building such special cars, something to do with the heritage, racing history and Mediterranean passion for all things wild and personal. I don’t see Porsche pulling out such bespoke and exotic models. Mercedes have been building unique versions of their cars for some very loyal and wealthy customers, but most of the time we are talking about special version of existing cars, with maybe a different engine, or transmission (those fifteen E 55 AMG 4-Matic W210 anyone?) or refurbished internals (the eleven or so 300 SL rebuilt with modern suspensions, engines, steering, etc).
The raw nature of Koenigsegg’s cars allow for some additional madness to be infused by a willing customer, and the One:1 program is a great example of what more can be done, but maybe their product is so extremely designed to reduce the margin for modifications. I’d expect the aerodynamics on the Agera to be pretty much the best they could come up with for those outstanding top speeds, but a new balance may be found nonetheless.
Bugatti has shown already that all they are willing to do is a new set of wheels and body finish, but maybe McLaren can prove me wrong with some additional bespoke models after the somewhat weird but fascinating X1 Concept from 2012. Also the new Special Operations division of Jaguar might be in for some suprises. Last year Project 7 Concept was very promising, although the death of the C-X75 program is hard to justify in my mind. That was one sexy supercar.


Some other pictures of the event and the 2014 Terra di Motori with the 100th Anniversary of Maserati and a Pagani Zonda Revoluciòn will follow soon.

All Watermarked Pictures and Words Copyright: Damiano Garro for The Italian Junkyard
Other shots copyright: Guy Golsteyn, Ultimatecarpage.com, Belgian-Motorsport.com
This article can be linked to from other websites but its content and the pictures can't be reproduced on any other website without my written permission Want to know more?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Motori e Sapori, two Pagani Huayras are better than one: one for the Dark Knight, one for St. Patrick's day!


There isn't much to be said about Pagani, the Zonda or the Huayra that I haven't written here already.

We've been to the factory, we've seen the assembly of the cars, talked with the men and women who put those masterpieces together, and we even got to interview the man himself, Horacio Pagani.

As usual with Pagani stuff, there is no better source of material and information as the Pagani Zonda Forum. Be sure to register over there and feel free to contact me if you have any problem.

I'll admit that seeing these cars at events and shows is definitely not the same as the occasional spotting on the road, possibly far away from their own factories. It feels like cheating and it takes away a bit of the specialness built into these cars. They are called exotics for a reason, but when you see them relatively often, you risk to think they are as common as they get.

There is no risk in finding them ordinary though. Among the stars of the 2014 edition of the "Motori e Sapori" event in Castelfranco Emilia (Modena, Italhy), a matte shocking green Huayra is definitely no red Ferrari 458 Italia.


This specific car is the third prototype ever built (ZA9C900P3) and it was rumored to have been used primarily for electronics development, therefore often being referred to as the Bosch prototype. Indeed you could have seen a few videos of a matte black Huayra testing at various locations. It's the same car, bar the vinyl wrap.


It could often been found at Idiada Test Circuit. What's that? Well, you may know it already as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, as they are the same venue.

IDIADA became slightly more notorious when it readied the most powerful electric prototype car with the help of APPLUS, the car in question being actually based on the stunning Rimac Concept One from Croatia.


During this past winter the Huayra P3 has been completely disassembled and rebuilt so to incorporate some production specs details, and possible parts of future evolutions of the Huayra.


Rumors about the production run for the regular Huayra quotes various figures raging from 75 to 110 units, and every time some Pagani official is quoted as the source so it's hard to say which figure is the right one. Presently, about 40 customer cars have been built, and by the end of 2014 that number should double thanks to the new factory and workforce. Therefore it seems the right time to start testing the next chapter in the Huayra history, and the P3 might be hiding in plain sight.


The company also have other factory cars, including this matte dark gray Huayra, chassis #76014 and based on the second to last validation prototype, the ZA9C900P5 finished in silver and featured at the Huayra unveiling in Geneva 2011, next to the validation prototype ZA9C900P6 finished in red and carbon fiber, and later rebuilt into the first series production Huayra, #76001. That car is now finished in blue and clear coated carbon fiber, often seen in London and Paris registered with plates from Qatar. This blue car is however often seen at the factory too, so it's unclear what kind of a deal is in place between Pagani and the owner.


Other factory cars include the ZA9C900P1 that was recently featured on the TIJ a few weeks ago, and a third prototype, the ZA9C900P4 which was used to develop and refine the drivetrain and was therefore stationed primarily at Affalterbach, not far from Stuttgart, AMG headquarters. It's unclear though what the present status of this car is, and where it might be. The ZA9C900P2 is rumored to have been the crash test prototype, so we lost that for good. Actually, if you're lucky, you can spot it remains inside the Pagani factory.


The #76014 Huayra has changed its skin many times: while the actual bodywork has been mostly the same after its rebuilt into a production car in Spring 2012, from then on it was always wrapped with various vinyls. It all started with the 2013 Mille Miglia when the car featured a matte gray finish with a sketchy map of the Mille Miglia depicted on it, and then they never stopped. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013 the matte gray wrap was still in place but adorned with weird Italian flag stripes all over the bodywork. It was then finished again in matte gray with a black and red longitudinal stripe. Eventually the car was wrapped in matte bronze with the canopy finished in matte black, but it didn't last much as you can see because this has been its finish ever since January 2014. Stealthy, I approve, and I'm not a fan of matte cars.


The car was recently used for a very special task. Another customer car, believe to be the 34th produced car and featuring chassis #76031, was delivered to a customer from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Paris. For some reasons, the car arrived with the left rear view mirror damaged, and was temporarily fixed with duct tape... because that's what does the job when years of studies and development just won't cut it!


#76014 was promptly dispatched with famous test driver Davide Testi at the wheel, and the next day both car could be seen together in Paris. Next thing you know, the #76031 Huayra had a new mirror and Mr Test-i Driver was heading back home.

If you think it doesn't make much sense, I'll have to disagree. First of all, you'd have needed to send both the new mirror and a technician to repair or assess the damage, so a two way airplane ticket to Paris was required. It was probably a bit cheaper then sending a supercar about 1.050 km away from home, but eventually you have to consider test cars and test drivers are meant for one thing: to drive. No better occasion to do it too, as that must have been the best customer service ever.


As for Davide himself, in Castelfranco he was a nice chap as usual, allowing people to take pictures of the car, opening the door and so on. When he wasn't on duty, you could see him walking around with his son, showing him cars and introducing him to the great automotive culture. Lucky kid? You can bet on that!


Final note on the finish of the cars. While I won't say much on the refinement of the green Huayra P3, it's a prototype after all and you could see that some parts were missing, the quality of the wraps was a bit disappointing. Maybe the quality of the panels of the P3 has something to do with it, being finished in a raw matte black texture (perhaps primed only?) and having faced many miles and extreme conditions over the recent years.


Performed by Car Wrapping Milano from Milan obviously, northern Italy, the wraps were already showing bubbles, cracks and other signs of wear all over both cars, and the job is barely 3 months old on the matte gray car, and less than two months old on the green prototype. Now taking into account that the matte gray #76014 Huayra was wrapped no less than 5 times over the past 12 months, (even if I assume the base vinyl was always the same in the three initial schemes prior to the bronze one), it may be that the job isn't performed with the best attention to quality as it's going to be removed pretty soon anyway, and probably a sponsorship agreement between the two companies is in place. It's also an effective way to save the actual paintjob from dirt and chips over the years.

Indeed you could spot additional layers been added right after all four wheels to add further protections against small stones propelled towards the bodywork by the massive tires. I hope customer cars won't be affected by this, even if they surely get driven much less than the company cars, plus it's a very common problem among basically all high end supercars. Not surprisingly Pagani added the small carbon fiber element we photographed also on the red Huayra P1.

That said, if you have the means to purchase it, you better take care of it too!


You can really say this is not Ferrari home turf...

All Watermarked Pictures and Words Copyright: Damiano Garro for The Italian Junkyard
Other shots copyright: Pagani Automobili
This article can be linked to from other websites but its content and the pictures can't be reproduced on any other website without my written permission
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