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,,
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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