This car’s 0–60 mph time of 3.7 seconds makes it a strong contender for the freeway on-ramp sweepstakes, and the aural entertainment adds fun

Chassis number: ZA9C820C11OF76044

Appropriately named in honor of the legendary hot winds of its creator’s Argentine birthplace, the Zonda is the inspired brainchild of Horacio Pagani, who designed and built his first Formula 3 race car at the age of 20 and moved to Italy in 1983 to pursue his lifelong ambition of building the world’s ultimate limited-production supercar.

Pagani, who was a composites engineer with Lamborghini during the 1980s, left that storied manufacturer in 1991 and translated his high-tech expertise into his own Modena Design firm, which produced carbon-fiber components for Formula 1 teams and such marques as Daimler, Ferrari and motorcycle-maker Aprilia. In 1992, Pagani Automobili Modena was established, with seven years of development culminating in the debut of the Zonda, its first product, at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show.

Immediately hailed for its radical styling, stunning performance and almost inconceivable technical sophistication, the Zonda was clearly the physical realization of Mr. Pagani’s relentless pursuit to create “Una Macchina con Anima”— a car with a soul. Introduced at the 2003 Geneva Show, the Zonda Roadster incorporated a removable carbon-fiber roof panel and forged aluminum, 19-inch alloy wheels and ultra-low-profile tires measuring 255 mm in the front and 335 mm in the rear, which were specially designed by Michelin for this machine. Powered by a 7,291-cc DOHC Mercedes-Benz AMG E73 60-degree Alloy V12 with Bosch Motronic ME7 sequential electronic fuel injection, this car produces 555 horsepower at 5,900 rpm.

The car can is capable of a 220 mph top speed. Collector-owned and maintained from new, it is housed in Europe and offered at auction today in as-new condition. With only about 4,970 miles traveled from new, it is finished in a red exterior with black hides stitched red. The Pagani factory has confirmed that a total of only 12 Roadsters were produced, of which this example is Number 8. A new factory plaque attesting to this fact was just delivered by Pagani and installed into the car.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2005 Pagani Zonda C12 7.3 S Roadster
Number Produced:12
Original List Price:$645,600
Tune Up Cost:$750
Chassis Number Location:Engine bulkhead
Engine Number Location:On chassis bulkhead inside left front wheel arch
Alternatives:2007 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster, 2006 Koenigsegg CXX, 2009 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

This car, Lot 244, sold for $685,216, including buyer’s premium, at the RM Auctions Battersea Evolution, London, U.K., sale on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

The world of the extreme supercar is a curious one. Many entrepreneurs and enthusiasts dream of creating the ultimate road car and upstaging the establishment, much as Ferruccio Lamborghini did in 1963.

From Vector to Koenigsegg, Romano Artioli’s Bugatti to Cizeta and others, their makers have employed a variety of solutions to chassis and powertrain challenges — some original, some adapted — to varying degrees of success.

While many of these efforts have been carried out by talented, high-profile engineering talent, the CV of Horacio Pagani stands out. The breadth of his experience in industrial design and development help to make the Pagani cars somehow more complete, more grown-up if you will, than just about any of the others save the McLaren F1. I have little doubt that if Pagani had Gordon Murray’s budget he would do equally well.

Keys to success in this arena are dramatic looks, dramatic power and an equally dramatic price tag — along with miniscule production numbers to ensure exclusivity. Does your car pass the garage/bedroom/office wall poster test, can it post 0-60 mph and top speed numbers generally only seen on racetracks, and can it be an alternative in price to a studio apartment on the East Side of Manhattan?

A clean design, but not too clean

Styling is, of course, a very personal and subjective area, and I feel, as do many whose primary interests lie in older cars, that most modern sports cars have a certain anodyne sameness. Once the basic melody had been laid down by Marcello Gandini, it seems to have been largely variations on the theme for decades now.

Horacio Pagani is his own stylist, and he has done a good, clean job of integrating the standard supercar design elements into something a bit cleaner and neater than most. He also managed to make an interior with enough trim and detail worthy of the elevated price — without crossing the line into the near-parody design victim Spyker.

Cooking with a wail

The Pagani’s 0–60 mph time of 3.7 seconds and a 200-plus mph top speed are certainly respectable entries in the freeway on-ramp sweepstakes, and the aural entertainment adds to the fun. One of the things most missed about Formula 1’s V10 era is the sound of those engines, in particular the piercing wail emitted by the Mercedes in the McLaren MP4/14 of 1999. It still echoes through my inner ear.

While watching a video of “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson drive the Zonda R at Imola, I’m immediately transported back to 1999. The “cooking” version doesn’t pack quite that spine-chilling thrill, but it’s said to come awfully close.

Holding their own

These cars have held their value quite well. Bonhams sold another of the roadsters, chassis 76041 at the Goodwood Festival sale on July 1, 2011. Observed to be in 1 condition by SCM’s on-site reporter, it brought $513,000, either because of — or despite — its color scheme of pink over black.
In 2006, the list price of a Zonda Roadster F was approximately $645,600. I would challenge any reader to find other exotics selling at or near their purchase price at six years of age.

For comparison, the 2006 Mercedes SLR McLaren had an MSRP of $450,000 and can be found now in the $250,000 range. Of course, as there were only a dozen Zonda roadsters built — and because total model production barely broke 200 units over 12 years — they are rather more rare than their pure German competition.

The indicated 833 miles per year covered in this Pagani seems to be a bit higher than would be expected, but it is delightful to contemplate. Many, if not most, cars of this type would be hard pressed to travel 83 miles in a year.

When you consider that the typical circuit on which track day outings are held is 2.5 to four miles long, a bit more than 240 laps each year would cover about 780 miles. It’s clear that this car has seen more use, and I am sure is all the better for having done it.

It appeared to be in excellent condition in attractive — if typical — colors. If this kind of ultra-extroverted ride is your style, you could find few better ways to go. And as it has held its value remarkably well, it may prove to have been a reasonable buy going forward.

(Vehicle description courtesy of RM Auctions.)

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