Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 28th March 2018

Building a successful car company is difficult, requiring creativity, determination and industry knowledge. Horatio Pagani, a former Lamborghini engineer, had the necessary skills to succeed, founding Pagani and turning it into a modern day supercar powerhouse. A lot of the success came down to the first model he created, the Pagani Zonda. The car was striking and elegant, becoming popular with wealthy customers. We’re looking into the history of the Zonda to understand what made it so appealing.

A carbon fibre creation

The concept of the Zonda was based around carbon fibre, with Pagani being known as the father of the material. He took what he’d learned at Lamborghini, carrying out research into advanced materials that enabled him to build a one of a kind vehicle. Using his knowledge of composite substances, Pagani created the Zonda C12. The name came from Zonda wind, a term for an air current above Argentina, Pagani’s birthplace.

The car had a sleek, carbon fibre body that made it stand out even among the supercar elite. It came with a 388 bhp V12 engine connection to a five-speed gearbox. Acquiring the engine involved reaching out to Mercedes-Benz and Pagani struck up a friendship with F1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio. As an honorary director, Fangio helped to convince other members to agree to an engine supply deal. Originally, Pagani wanted to call the Zonda the Fangio F1, though he decided not to after Fangio’s death in 1995 in respect of the family.

The suspension made the most of the carbon fibre design, being connected to a wishbone mechanism that provided comfortable handling. The interior was equally lavish, taking inspiration from a fighter jet cockpit. Drivers had good visibility on the road and there was a lot of space to move around.


The Zonda debuted at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show to critical acclaim. Motorists were impressed by the appearance and high-powered performance at their fingertips. Demand for the Zonda increased, leading to Pagani developing several variations through the years.

The Zonda S utilised a 7-litre AMG engine, propelling the car from 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. Upgrades included an elongated nose and improved aerodynamics. This was followed by the Zonda S 7.3 in 2002, featuring a larger V12 engine.

Production of the Zonda lasted until 2017, with the HP Barchetta being the final model. It was unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance as a present for Pagani’s 60th birthday. The Zonda is without a doubt one of the finest cars produced in recent memory.

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