Thursday, July 25, 2019

Italy’s Dream Factories

Second and final destination of my European trip was Italy, where I planned to visit my family. I go back every couple of years, but, while I usually tend to stay local, this time I decided to carry on with the car-themed vibe of my holiday. After all, is there a better place when it comes to explore automotive culture?

So, after three very stressful hours on the Italian expressways we finally reached our first stop: Pagani factory in San Cesario sul Panaro.

I guess by now most long time readers will be well aware of my fascination for this brand, but fear not, this blog is not turning into “Pagani-Zonda.com” anytime soon. However, these cars are so unique and rare that it would be a crime not to feature them. 

Admission to the Pagani Museum is not cheap, but this is the only opportunity that most of us mere mortals will ever have to see so many of these cars in one place. With roughly 300 units produced over 20 years and an average price tag of several million dollars, what are the chances of running into one?

The museum is really nothing more than a large gallery hosting a small collection of the most iconic variations of the Zonda and Huayra.

Most of them are cars that Mr. Pagani had to buy back from their original customers, while others are bit more special

Like the Zonda development mule, nicknamed “La Nonna” (grandmother in Italian), this car served as the development rig for most parts and upgrades of the successive evolutions and, after covering over 500,000km, it was meticulously restored before being retired.

Having known the brand for years I didn’t find any big surprise, yet it was cool to to see in person some of the things that really set Pagani apart. Look at this set of A/C unit control covers, made of ivory and mother of pearl! I can’t imagine this working well on any other car, but for some reason they would fit beautifully in a Zonda.

Talk about rare, they even had one of the only five Zonda Cinque Roadsters in the world.

This car was bought back and added to the collection for an impressive 11 million Euros.

After exploring the museum we headed inside the factory for a 30 minutes tour. As you can imagine no cameras were allowed in, but the place really lives up to the expectations. This factory takes the meaning of “handbuilt” to a whole different level.

After leaving Pagani we headed to Bologna for a night out and some food.

I couldn’t quite understand back then, but after 12 years living in Japan I now get it why Italy is such a popular country for tourism. Nothing quite matches the vibe you’ll get exploring restaurants and bars on a hot summer night.

The next day we headed to Maranello for a mandatory visit to Ferrari.

Ferraris are a fairly common sight in Tokyo and I believe I’ve been lucky enough to see in person pretty much all the most iconic models. Nonetheless, the museum is definitely worth a visit.

The selection of cars exhibited was fantastic and included both road and race cars from all eras.

I know some might be outraged by this, but after Pagani even the hyper-exclusive LaFerrari looked like a normal production car.

The trophy hall with the F1 World Championship winning machines was definitely special.

I just recently started to follow the sport back again, but in the early 2000s I remember witnessing the absolute Ferrari dominance in F1 during the Schumacher era.

Despite being the only car guy in my family I was glad to see them enjoying the trip and getting up and close with cars that otherwise would be a rare sight in Italy.

As a final verdict looks like my dad became a bit of a Pagani fan and my mom declared the new Ferrari Portofino the most beautiful car she’d ever seen.

We then headed back home for a few days filled with pasta and way too many espressos.

Going back is always enjoyable and nothing is as special as family time. On the other hand, having moved to Tokyo at 21 I now consider Japan home when it comes to daily life.

Overall this trip was absolutely fantastic and I managed to tick quite a few boxes off my list of must-try car related experiences. Now time to head back to Japan for more adventures!

Until next time.

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