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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Pagani Zonda "La Nonna" - A Million Kilometres Young

Images from PROTOTYPEZERO.NET
It's widely held that supercars are driven about as often as Swiss tanks. Maybe it's to protect their value, or to avoid hideous repair and/or maintenance bills. Maybe it's simply because the opportunities to enjoy such a machine are few and far between, requiring dry weather and quiet, wide roads with reasonable (or easily ignored) speed limits. While your mere muggle car might do 10,000 miles per year, a lot of supercars won't cover that distance in their lifetime, instead resting in air conditioned garages and occasionally being trotted out for events or a special dinner date or something.

This car has not lead that life. Instead, it's lead a real life of hard graft. This is a Pagani Zonda. Which of the many specific versions of Zonda, you might ask? Well, the short answer is that it's nearly all of them, because this is Prototype 2, a road-legal Zonda that has been used to develop parts and upgrades large and small from the original 'C12' model released in 1999 to the ultimate '760RS' of 2012 (Lewis Hamilton's is one of those). Excluding the track-only Zonda R, all the new and updated versions of the venerable hypercar through the years have been developed using this very machine... and it's been driven a long, long way.


Pagani's engineers affectionately refer to this car as "La Nonna," Italian for "The Grandmother," because it is the oldest working Zonda of all. Total mileage amounts to over 1,100,000km (>683,500 miles), done in who knows what different parts of the world and extreme conditions over a fourteen year work life, before the all-new Huayra finally went into production as a replacement in late 2012. In that time the bodywork got prettier, more aerodynamic and more extreme, while the interior got more opulent and used ever more exotic materials. The AMG "M120" V12 engine grew from 6.0 litres to 7.3 litres and power increased from 394bhp to 760bhp despite the lack of turbos or superchargers. The sound evolved from deep thunder to operatic high tenor, no doubt getting much louder as it went. Every Zonda is something extremely special, so seeing as this effectively is every Zonda, surely this one is the most special of all?

Now retired, she has been taken care of and given a beauty makeover, having been restored to a representative spec to celebrate Horacio Pagani's 60th birthday this year. Finished in the traditional silver with red interior, it borrows its all-carbon bodywork from the Zonda F and Zonda Cinque, with the Italian-flag centre stripe seen on the Zonda Tricolore. There is also a lot of exposed carbon fibre inside and out, a look Zondas have pioneered for many years.



It is unknown whether they put an original-spec engine in it, but I'd be surprised if they did. Chances are it retains the 7.3L, 760-horsepower final-spec engine, which produces 545lb/ft of torque at 4500rpm on its way to a 7500rpm red-line. Some 760s were ordered with a 6-speed manual gearbox - including Lewis Hamilton's '760LH' - but this one uses the 7-speed paddleshift 'box that the first 760RS had fitted. The top speed is probably somewhere around 220mph, up from the 1999 C12's 205mph. One review of the 760RS (which used a much lighter chassis than this old girl) claimed that it was still just as surprisingly friendly to drive normally as lesser Zondas... and that the gear ratios are so long, you can't select 7th gear unless you're doing over 60mph!

Here is a video of La Nonna pre-restoration, being used to amuse a popular supercar YouTuber (on closed roads). Note the yellow ostrich hide!


Get the impression that the test driver knows his way around the car?!

Having become finally finished, this incredible car is currently on display in the old factory showroom (where these photos were taken) while they finish constructing a new facility including a new museum, where she will ultimately reside. Seeing as it's done an average of over 78,500km (>48,800mi) per year for nearly a decade-and-a-half, I think this is one supercar that has probably earned the right to sit in an air conditioned room looking pretty and, perhaps, occasionally being taken to events.


I really admire the fact that Pagani have kept an old prototype around and tidied it up for display. Along with the endearing nickname, it shows how much they care about it. Larger car companies typically crush prototypes once they've exceeded their useful life, unless they think they can find a use for it later. This one is being officially recognised as the Zonda - no, don't call it LaZonda... - the summary of all road-going versions of a car that out-posed and out-drove two generations of Lamborghinis, and together with Koenigsegg helped bring the hypercar into the 21st century, beating the biggest names to the punch and giving us new marques to lust after (and more hard words to pronounce) in the process.

See a pictorial evolution of this car here

I wonder if there's a particular prototype of the Huayra running around the quieter parts of Modena that's now in the beginnings of its own million-kilometer development journey......


Source: PROTOTYPEZERO.net via Carscoops

Article written by, and exclusively for, SmallBlogV8. Do not copy/paste onto your own inferior blog

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