June 8, 2020
Terra di Motori 2020 - Massimo Delbò
Whenever you hear the name Leonardo da Vinci, you probably immediately think of the Louvre Museum in Paris, home of the Mona Lisa, or of some place in Florence adorned with the great man’s sculptures. But actually, there is a small place called San Cesario sul Panaro, 12 kilometers from Modena, that is as closely linked as any to Leonardo. It is the home of a successful entrepreneur who happily admits that, from the age of 14, he drew inspiration from the Renaissance genius.
Horacio Pagani, founder of the eponymous hypercar manufacturing company, is of Italian descendant but was born and grew up in Argentina. As a young teenager he was already mad about cars, but unsure whether to focus on the technical or the aesthetic side. He found his answer in a Reader’s Digest Selection article about Leonardo da Vinci, the genius of the Italian Renaissance, which stated that sciences and arts can go hand in hand. Young Horacio, blessed with a natural artistic bent and manual dexterity, readily admits that the man he is today, and the company he founded, both developed from that realisation.
To illustrate this point, Pagani’s factory, which covers 5,000 square meters, is arranged as a main square surrounded by “botteghe”, or small shops. What is more there is also a bell tower with a clock! “In the Renaissance village,” says Horacio, as his workers call him, “the shops represented knowledge, while the square was the focus of social life and the exchange of information. I simply wanted to recreate this, but instead of the “classic” shops, I have my company’s departments”.
In this modern era of manufacturing, the most famous sports car brands have increased their production output from hundreds of pieces a year to several thousand. In this setting, only Pagani remains a true “low quantity” manufacturer, producing around 40/50 cars a year.
“I could increase our output,” says Mr. Pagani, “but that would come at a cost, in terms of both overall quality and attention to detail; moreover, the result would be a less valuable investment for my customers”. So, detail is crucial to the firm, which uses the best available material and applies real artistry in order to produce cars that perform well and look as good as they possibly can, which is precisely the approach adopted by a certain Mr. Ettore Bugatti in the 1930s.
This quest for beauty is one of the reasons why Paganis don’t race. “In racing cars, performance is paramount”, says Pagani, “but I don’t want to have to compromise the refinement of my cars, simply to gain an extra tenth of a second”.
Mr. Pagani is so obsessed with detail that every day, at about 4 a.m., he cycles from his home to the closed factory in order to have time, in absolutely tranquility, to check the work done the previous day. And if he spots something, he is not 100% satisfied with, he will leave a note on a piece of tape, telling his workers what to adjust.