PAGANI HUAYRA READY FOR LIFT-OFF
PH visits the Pagani factory on the eve of its latest reveal
First things first though - how the hell do you pronounce that name? Even the Pagani staff seem uncertain, our Italian host opting for an elongated 'Hoo-aye-rah' too temptingly like a 'who are yer!' football chant to avoid the comparison. The multi-lingual Italian-German PR man opts for a simpler 'why-rer', which is less of a mouthful.
Through a door at the side of the showroom and, bang, there we are in the midst of the Huayra's final preparations for its first public appearance. With all the panels open it's hard to make out the actual shape but even in this exploded view it's clearly a thing of incredible beauty.
The bodywork seems to fit tighter, the flowing curves much more sinuous than the brutal functionalism seen in recent Lamborghinis or even Ferraris. In character and positioning the most obvious rival is the Aston Martin One-77, both cars taking an almost pornographic approach to extravagant engineering as art. Both have been designed to look as good naked as they do clothed too and having taken the Huayra in whole it's exciting to once again peel back the bodywork and really soak in the detail.
Everything on the Huayra celebrates a distinctively Pagani take on form and function, the air vents as structural members just one example. Another would be those ribbed, gold anodised aluminium covers on top of the intercoolers. Machined from one solid lump of aluminium they enclose expansion tanks for the coolant system and intercoolers themselves.
So how does he feel about launching his new baby at the same motor show former employers Lamborghini will also be showing their new supercar? Speaking through an interpreter he shrugs. "I will go to their stand to look at the car and like a child say 'bella, bella'" he says. "And then I will go back to mine and be nit-picking about what we can improve!"
Fangio's influence weighs heavily on Pagani too, the Mercedes engines in the Zonda and now Huayra famously a result of a suggestion from Fangio himself. The Huayra's gullwing doors, though they raised considerable engineering challenges, are a reference to the 300SLs raced by Mercedes when Fangio was a factory driver there in the 50s.
But there's new stuff too, our hosts demonstrating the front aero flaps that can move through 40 degrees to modify the flow of air over and through the Huayra's body. Similar ones at the back do the same and, like the wing on the McLaren MP4-12C, work as an air brake to reduce pitch under heavy braking. On the Pagani this is combined with active front dampers that actually stiffen and raise the front of the car to maintain the optimum attitude. Or avoid embarrassing, Top Gear style nose scraping exits from underground car parks.
Appetites suitably whetted we've finally outstayed our welcome and from this enclave of carbon fibre and million-dollar supercars the reality of a rain-soaked Italian industrial estate is a harsh wake-up call. In just a few hours time the Huayra will be making its debut in Italy's fashion capital, in just a few days fighting for the limelight at one of the most supercar packed motor shows in years. The Lamborghini had best be something special, because the ambitious Argentinian who used to work there has come up with another show-stopper of his own.