I recently had the chance to drive a Pagani Zonda, which is one of the craziest modern supercars in existence. I say this for many reasons, but one is the fact that Pagani made just 150 of them for the entire planet, which makes the Zonda one of the rarest supercars in existence. Then there’s the fact that it has a 7.3-liter V12 that’s hooked up to a manual transmission. It’s amazing.
It’s even more amazing that I was able to drive this Zonda here in North America, because it was never sold here. Indeed, Pagani never offered the car in North America, but this particular example has been imported and, according to the owner, federalized so that it’s entirely legal to drive around in the United States. It’s really something.
And, indeed, it is really something. I drove the Zonda for a little while, and I was absolutely stunned by how good it is to drive — it’s an amazing car that’s surprisingly exciting to throw around and enjoy. It has direct steering, an amazing road feel and a really good shifter and clutch that I was completely surprised by, largely because you never tend to get that stuff with a supercar. But here it is, on the Zonda.
Overall, I actually preferred the Zonda to the Huayra, which is Pagani’s successor to the Zonda that debuted a few years ago. The Huayra is undoubtedly more impressive on the inside — but the Huayra suffers from its mediocre sequential automatic transmission, which is slow and jerky to shift. It’s an outdated piece of technology, especially when compared with the Zonda’s smooth and slick manual.
One thing that surprised me about the Zonda was its relative "normalcy" compared with the Huayra. While the Huayra’s interior is incredibly detailed, the Zonda has some buttons and switches from other automakers — something I didn’t expect to see in a Pagani, since I generally know them to be so incredibly well made and insanely detailed. It seems that, in the early days of Pagani, they didn’t think they could get away with such detail, or such cost — but that has changed.
And, speaking of cost, let’s discuss how expensive this thing is. I’ve said $6 million in the title, and some may argue it’s more like $4 or $5 million. But it’s hard to know. There are so few of these, and they appear for sale so rarely that it’s hard to establish a market price. Plus, this one is special. It’s a Zonda S, but it was the Pagani development car for the Zonda F, which came later. That means more performance power and a true, unique, one-of-one experience.
Overall, the thing that shocked me most about the Zonda, though, was its drivability. It’s actually, honestly, legitimately fun to drive. It handles well, it’s tossable, and it’s probably the least intimidating multi-million dollar car I’ve ever driven. I’d love to have one. Too bad I probably can’t even afford the engine cover.
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