Pagani Zonda 20th Anniversary: A Mind-Blowing Weekend

An insane gathering of rare Zondas—plus what might be the wildest car-launch party we’ve ever attended.

Ken SaitoWriter, photographer

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Pagani Zonda, making it a full two decades since Horacio Pagani first introduced the world to his initial masterpiece at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. Since then, it's been celebrated and appreciated the world over, the naturally aspirated V-12-powered Italian exotic featuring a manual gearbox, wild one-off variations, and bedroom-poster good looks.

Pagani hasn't held back with the celebrations this year. The first international celebration took place in Hong Kong earlier in the year with a concours-style event at the posh Repulse Bay hotel (we were there). The party kept going on the Pagani Raduno in Italy earlier this summer where Pagani invited its top customers to Sardinia for an unforgettable five-day rally (we were also there). Thirty-plus Zondas and Huayras took over the small Italian island before making their way to Monza for a once-in-a-lifetime track day with no fewer than three Zonda Rs delighting the ears of owners and fans alike.

But at those celebrations there was talk of an even bigger soiree planned for the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed. I wasn't sure how anything could top gathering more than a dozen Paganis in Hong Kong and more than 30 in Sardinia, but I was curious to find out. Naturally, I went to Goodwood to find out.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed couldn't have been a more perfect venue. All eyes from the automotive and motorsports worlds would be on the festivities, being as it's the premier such event of the summer. A convoy of 11 Paganis started at the Pagani U.K. showroom in West London, stopped at a quaint pub near Goodwood for lunch, and ended up at the Festival of Speed, where they were joined by another dozen Zondas.

All 23 Zondas in attendance then had a go at Goodwood's famous hill climb, parading up Lord March's driveway and allowing many owners to tick an experience off their bucket lists. To top it off, the group of Zondas was unreal; unlike the Pagani Raduno, which consisted mainly of owners' cars, the Goodwood run combined private cars with cars from Pagani's own collection—including chassis 001. Horacio led the pack driving that one, while an example of pretty much every other Zonda followed behind, including the C12, C12S, F, Cinque, Tricolore, various one-offs, and 760s. With the HP Barchetta in attendance, the parade included both the first and last Zondas produced.

Beyond this rare opportunity to see such special cars in motion, spectators also were able to admire the evolution of the Zonda in this moving timeline. The simple design of the C12 and C12 S and the harder-core 760 commissions stood out, but in my opinion, the Zonda F remains the perfect balance in terms of beauty and aggression. The parade was a one-off event, but the factory's Zonda Revolucion track-only special ran the hill for the rest of the weekend.

But none of that was the main event of the celebration, as it culminated in a massive party held an hour away at Folkington Manor. Think of it as a sort of Downton Abbey-looking mansion with its backyard converted to accommodate a music-festival-style stage and grounds for a "big surprise."

Towering speakers, smoke machines, and laser lights were of course in effect, and music was spun by the DJ pandas of Pink Panda. Organized by Taiwanese superstar musician and actor Jay Chou's production company, it was hands down the craziest, most outlandish automotive-related party I'd even attended. And the event also featured the introduction of the Zonda Venti, the 20th-anniversary edition Zonda, to its owner and 50 other guests.

Famed violinist Vanessa Mae played a 30-second piece to introduce the car before the 3D projector and laser lights kicked into high gear. It ended with a fireworks display that illuminated the night sky over the Southern English countryside for several minutes while lots of confetti rained down. (Like, a lot of confetti). It may have been the most excessive car-launch party ever—it was certainly one everyone in attendance will never forget.

The aim was to have the biggest Zonda 20 celebration of the year. Mission accomplished. Between the hill-climb drive and the insane Zonda Venti party, I don't think anything will top that particular weekend any time soon.

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