By combining his firm's knowledge of exotic materials with AMG's powertrain technology and Formula 1 champion Juan Manuel Fangio's design skill, Pagani was able to create the Zonda. Most North Americans know the Zonda from its appearances on Top Gear: They drove the car in one of its early shows and claimed it was great, but the company would probably be a footnote in automotive history.
It turns out they were wrong. The Zonda continued development, gaining fans and briefly holding the production car record at the Nürburgring racetrack. The car is now ending its twelve year production run, to be replaced by the new Huayra. Expectations are, to say the least, very high.
While the exterior is very similar to its predecessor, the new car makes some major advances. The AMG V12 is now turbocharged. Power from the engine is directed through a seven speed sequential transmission: While not as fast shifting as dual-clutch systems, it weighs 150 lbs. less. Power will be routed to the rear wheels, again saving weight over competitors who are increasingly turning to all wheel drive. The body is made from a carbon titanium composite first applied to a handful of special edition Zondas, decreasing weight over more traditional carbon fiber construction. The end result is a vehicle that weighs less than 3,000 lbs. with a motor that produces 750 horsepower and 810 ft-lbs. of torque.
0-60 will take less than three seconds, with a top speed of 220 mph. Stopping is also spectacular, in part because it uses nose mounted air brakes to accompany the car's friction brakes: New drivers will probably spend the first few days with their car pressing the middle pedal to see the pair of flaps tilt up from the hood.
As cool as all this sounds, the most important feature isn't a "what," it's a "where:" The Huayra will be the first Pagani sold in America. Price for this superlative supercar is expected to be around $1.4 million.