Pagani Zonda S

Martyn Goddard
Driver Side Half View

Modena, Italy Yes, this is a motor--and motor racing--town, home of Ferrari and Maserati, a place where the local Fiat dealer, Stanguellini, made its own racing cars for decades and where a great many other hallowed and/or forgotten names have been attached to extraordinary automobiles. The lavish, round, failed Bugatti factory is just up the road in Campogalliano, and the Lamborghini works is not far away, either.

But long before internal-combustion engines existed, long before the now-gone twentieth century changed the face of the world with exotic machinery, Modena was a center of emotional and spiritual activity. There are absolutely extraordinary churches in the city, seemingly at every other intersection, outposts of the all-powerful Church to the south in Rome, with its various quantified moral structures: a holy trinity, ten commandments, and seven deadly sins. The last of these might be a little harder to avoid here than in less impassioned environs.

Horacio Pagani, an Argentine dynamo who came here in 1982, has done more than his share to put the temptation to sin before the Modenese citizenry. Compared with him and the intensity with which he works, almost every other human is guilty of Sloth. Admire one of his Zonda GT cars, note the details of its design and finish, check out the superb handmade shoes in matching leather that go with each car, and try to deny that Covetousness is stirring in your heart. Look at what Pagani has accomplished in the nineteen years since he and his new bride arrived in Italy, living in a tent and scrabbling at odd jobs to survive, and you are a good person indeed if you are not just a little bit touched by Envy. And there must be other would-be carmakers in the area who are all but consumed by Anger, seeing the apparent ease with which Pagani has reached his goals while they suffered and failed.

Full Driver Side View

Given all this, you might well expect Pagani himself to be filled with overweening Pride. But no, the man is modest and unassuming, giving credit to others for the help they have given him, understating what he has managed to do in getting his company up and running and his complex cars certified in Europe, Japan, and America. "Without waivers," he stresses.

Pagani has liked cars and design since he was eight years old, but he lived in Casilda, Argentina, a rural town in an agricultural country, the son, grandson, and great-grandson of bakers. His future was charted for him by family destiny: He would be a baker, too. Except that there was Auto Mundo magazine, enough contact with the automotive world to fire the enthusiasm of a boy who loved cars--racing cars, especially. Then a whole new world opened when he saw his first copy of Style Auto magazine, a forerunner of today's Auto & Design, both created by Fulvio Cinti.

Pagani specifically recalls seeing a picture of Gandini's Bertone Alfa Romeo Carabo when he was twelve, a sight that gave him goose bumps. An adult friend had a collection of magazines and books that Pagani yearned to buy, but his father said no. Young Horacio then made a deal to buy the material on a one-year contract. He kept it all out of his father's sight under his bed. His mother knew, of course, but tactfully said nothing to father or son.

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