Simply put: absolutely bonkers With eco-laws and regulations becoming stricter and more and more public pressure, it’s sad to say that these cars are a dying breed.
The modern supercar club is an elite group with well-established marques such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bugatti, and McLaren. Each with their own identity and unique blend of styling, performance, luxury and racing pedigree, supercar status has exclusivity of the highest order. Even when new companies come up with extremely fast cars, it’s often not enough to deserve a place up on an 8-year old boy’s wall. To be considered the best, there needs to be that “je ne c’est quoi” factor that captures the imagination of the 8-year old inside all of us. The only company to have recently joined the supercar hierarchy is Pagani and they did it by being absolutely insane, such as this Pagani Zonda R.
In 1999, Pagani launched their first car, the Zonda C12. Genesis. At the time, the Zonda C12 was nothing like the public has ever seen; it looked almost extra-terrestrial. It was like Pagani designed most of the car and then let a kid finish it off, as if the only thing missing from the picture was the afterburner off the Batmobile. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. However, unlike most supercar startups who think they know better than Ferrari and Lamborghini, the Zonda’s build-quality and engineering prowess were second to none. Luckily for us, that pantomime styling and potent power plant carried through the DNA of each successive Zonda.
So here it is, the Zonda R. With the Huayra already on the roads, this was indeed the last example of what Pagani could do with no rules, no boundaries. I went to see this amazing car at Legendary Motorcar in Milton, Ontario. It’s honestly weird to see a $2 million dollar supercar at home in a relatively small and rural town, but I wasn’t one to complain. This was a special day. In its presence, it took my breath away. There is an immediate sense of occasion and theatre. The perfect blend of form and function. The first thing you notice is the bare “carbo-titanium” body, which utilizes titanium in the carbon fiber weave to increase strength. They didn’t even bother to paint it, which is awesome, because naked is always better. They say it’s the little things that matter, and in the Zonda R’s case, that is indeed true. The carbo-titanium weave, the aero components, the massive vents all over the body, the mirrors, the blue tips on the titanium exhaust, and even the fuel filler cap are all works of art on their own.
As you sit inside the Zonda R, you immediately are made aware that you are in something special. There are only 15 Zonda R’s in the world. Once again, the small details just demand your complete attention. The bespoke buttons and gauges, the tachometer in the middle of the steering wheel, the carbon fiber bucket seats, and the lack of carpet means you see every single nut and bolt. The experience is completely different from what you’d get from any other car.
The details don’t stop there. As you take off the engine cover, you reveal an engineering wet-dream: the chassis components, the structural bracing, the suspension geometry, the titanium exhaust, various reservoirs and catch-cans and of course, that fantastic Mercedes Benz AMG V12 power plant. The massive 6.0L unit is sourced from the late Mercedes Benz CLK-GTR and produces an almost ridiculous 740 horsepower and 524 lb-ft of torque. In addition to all that power, it weighs just over 1000 kg. That’s the same as a Mazda 2, and have you seen a Mazda 2? It’s about the size of a shoe. As you can imagine, that power-to-weight ratio translates to some savage performance. Coupled with a slick 6-speed sequential gearbox, 0-100 kph takes less than 3 seconds and although I’ve never driven the Zonda R, I have driven a race car with similar performance, and I can say that the acceleration is brutal. A flex of the right foot causes a rush of speed that punishes your entire body. A lap record of 6 minutes and 47 seconds at the Nurburgring? Can’t say I’m surprised. It’s worth mentioning that the Zonda R is in a bit of a niche category. It’s not road-legal for obvious reasons and it also doesn’t meet the regulations for any racing series, therefore it can only be used at private track events. It sits alongside the Ferrari FXX and Maserati MC12 Corsa as my favourite “extremely expensive track day toys”; those two are very great company indeed.
When people ask me what the craziest car is that I’ve ever seen or been in (and that question does come up a lot), my answer every time is the Pagani Zonda R. As you can probably tell by now, this article is not so much a piece about a car, it’s certainly much more than that. It is a story of my personal experience with the Zonda R; my first Zonda at that. Just being in the same room as one of these incredible machines leaves its mark in your memory. With eco-laws and regulations becoming stricter and more and more public pressure, it’s sad to say that these cars are a dying breed. One day, these incredible machines will merely be just a part of history: but I know I will never forget the day I spent with the Zonda R.
Pagani Zonda R Gallery