Horacio Pagani is a Renaissance man, a master of many interests but one whose passion is best expressed in a single medium. Like Leonardo da Vinci, who conceptualized the first parachute, helicopter and tank but is best known for his painting skills, Pagani’s work in furniture, footwear, travel campers and timepieces is dwarfed by his propensity for automobile design.
Pagani is a household name among supercar aficionados. He collaborated on the first car with a carbon fiber frame—developed in the mid-1980s—and led the design of legendary Lamborghini models such as the Countach and the Diablo. Today, the models produced by his brand, Pagani Automobili, are among the most sought-after sports cars in the world.
Pagani has helped create a new segment in the auto industry: limited-edition exotics. Storied luxury brands, from Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley to Maserati, Alfa Romeo and, until recently, Ferrari, have been absorbed by major car manufacturers. The designers working for those legendary nameplates have access to greater resources but must “conform to what the system wants,” diminishing the artistry of their creations, says William Collick, Pagani’s lead salesman in North America.
Pagani and a handful of other longtime design pioneers—along with a few prodigies—remain fiercely independent and continue to challenge the imagination. At a time when demand for classic cars is forecast to diminish, Pagani and his peers are designing and producing tomorrow’s most-coveted automobiles.
The Pagani Huayra and its special edition derivative, the Huayra BC, are automobiles inspired by flight, with gullwing doors that spread like wings when opened and four automated flaps fitted to the front and rear to ensure the Huayra hugs the roadway. The flaps also flip up to create drag when braking.
The interior is more cockpit than passenger cabin, and just as difficult to squeeze into. But once behind the wheel, the driver feels a part of the car. Lightweight materials, primarily carbon fiber and titanium, make this beast tender to the driver’s touch, and the controls and dashboard displays please even the most discerning automobile pilot.
Pagani recently completed a new manufacturing facility that increases its annual production capacity to 45 handmade vehicles. Expect more special edition Huayras—or perhaps a new model—in the future.
BASE PRICE: US$1.4 million
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Italy
PRODUCTION RUN: 120 (sold out)
Christian von Koenigsegg’s car creations tend to push the boundaries of automotive imagination. Take for example the CCXR Trevita, only three of which were ever produced. The body panels are made of so-called diamond weave, or carbon fibers joined by diamond-dust-infused resin.
In the Regera, the Swedish supercar pioneer has built a plug-in hybrid production automobile that combines adrenaline-spiking speed—0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds and 0 to 125 mph in about seven seconds—with pulse-soothing conveniences, such as a touch-screen display and memory foam seats.
The Regera’s wizardry is in its powertrain, which pairs a single-gear transmission (no shifting) with four motors (three electric and one gas-powered V8 engine). The result is one smooth, quiet and exhilarating ride.
BASE PRICE: US$1.9 million
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Sweden
PRODUCTION RUN: 80
W Motors Lykan Hypersport
The Lykan HyperSport barely qualifies as a production car, with a run of only seven models, but it is the debut automobile for the next-big-thing boutique manufacturer, W Motors. Founded by Lebanese automotive designer Ralph Debbas, the company will soon open a production facility in the United Arab Emirates and plans to make three models: a sports car, a sedan and an SUV.
The Lykan HyperSport certainly raises expectations for the Middle East’s first supercar manufacturer. With diamonds framing the headlights, sapphires embedded in the taillights, gold thread stitching on the seats and a holographic driver’s display, it’s hard not to like the Lykan. The producers of the Hollywood blockbuster, “Furious 7,” featured the Lykan in the 2015 action film.
The Lykan’s successor, the US$1.6 million Fenyr SuperSport, features a carbon fiber body and will produce 900 horsepower, good for a top speed near 250 mph. W Motors projects production of 25 Fenyrs a year once the new factory comes fully online.
BASE PRICE: US$3.4 million
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: Lebanon/Italy
PRODUCTION RUN: 7
Hennessey Venom GT
Hennessey Performance Engineering has built a reputation as one of the world’s premier “tuning shops” over the last 25 years, taking factory-made vehicles like the Dodge Challenger or the Ford Raptor SUV and modifying them for better performance.
Hennessey developed its own car, the Venom, in 2010 in response to a speed challenge event organized by an auto magazine. The supercar won the race by four seconds, and the public response spurred the company’s leader, John Hennessey, to commit to a limited production run.
The chassis design for the Venom GT was inspired by the Lotus Elise, and the vehicles share many parts throughout the bodywork. But the Hennessey is unique when it comes to speed—the Venom GT is the world’s fastest road car, with a verified speed record of 270.49 mph. Fittingly, rock-and-roller Steven Tyler, the front man for the band Aerosmith, owned the first convertible Venom GT, known as a Spyder. He auctioned it for charity in January.
BASE PRICE: US$1.2 million
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: United States
PRODUCTION RUN: 29
McLaren cut its camshafts on the Formula One circuit and only expanded beyond the speedway in the 1990s. McLaren found the road car market eager for its products then, and if the P1 is any indication, demand remains strong now.
The P1 is a racer’s car, with a V12 engine and an exterior the company’s lead designer describes as “shrink-wrapped” for optimal aerodynamics. The auto is constructed mostly of carbon fiber inside—seats and steering wheel—as well as out. The driver also has access to some James Bond-like innovations: Push the boost button, and the plug-in hybrid’s electric motor boosts the P1’s maximum horsepower; choose the race mode, and the chassis drops two inches and the rear spoiler extends by a foot to create downforce to cling to the road.
McLaren also offers P1 buyers another big carrot—the chance to drive the racetrack version of the car, the P1 GTR, at the world’s most famous courses.
BASE PRICE: US$1.15 million
COUNTRY OF MANUFACTURE: United Kingdom
PRODUCTION RUN: 375 (sold out)
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