In the late 90’s, there seemed to be a lack of truly fast, thorough bred Italian sports cars. Ferrari’s model at the time was the 360, and whilst this was a very good car, it was rather conservative on its looks and was not among the elite. Lamborghini did still have the Diablo, but this was beginning to show its age. Enter Pagani.
The Pagani Zonda C12 seemed to come from nowhere. Debuting in 1999 it immediately caught the attention of the car world. It had everything a true Italian sportscar should have. It was mid-engined, powered by a 6.0L Mercedes V12 producing 380bhp. Whilst the signs were that Ferrari were starting to progress technologically to make their cars as mathematically quick as possible, the Zonda thankfully stuck to the old formula of rear wheel drive, a steering wheel and the driver. What made it truly great however was how it looked. The Zonda quite simply perfectly mixes beauty and Italian flare, with its ‘bubble’ cockpit, large spoiler and its circular arrangement of the 4 exhaust pipes.
There were only 5 of the original C12’s produced, but only to be replaced by an AMG tuned Zonda S. This version produced 540bhp, went from 0-100mph in 7.5s and a claimed top speed of 208mph. The Zonda S was then upgraded to a 7.3L engine and 555bhp. In 2003 the Zonda S’s top speed was tested by Evo Magazine, but surprisingly it maxed out at 198mph. While Pagani claimed that the car had been set up for maximum downforce, Evo said that many aerodynamic parts to increase downforce were removed, due to the pure reason of the test was to test top speed. Other tests also seem to suggest the Zonda could not reach 200mph due to its gear ratios. Despite this, the Zonda S had incredible performance, and still earnt its place amongst the hypercar elite.
Further models were developed, the next was the Zonda F, with yet more power, optional carbon fibre brakes and better aerodynamics. The roadster version lapped the Top Gear test track quicker than the Bugatti Veyron, a testament to just how impressive the Zonda truly was.