Yes, it’s impractical. And not just a little. But then again name a Pagani anything that’s reasonable.
The R, originally contemplated as the ultimate-go-hell-bent-for-leather-out-in-a-blaze-of-glory-pinnacle for the decade old Zonda line, has earned a reputation for being part fearsome and part folly. While it has since been succeeded by the Tricolore and other Zonda acolytes it still represents something of an achievement.
The Zonda R cannot meet legal road regs in most places (save in oil-rich sultanates where you sense most of them will be sold), yet it fits no spec of any racing series in this galaxy. It’s AMG V12 tuned to 750bhp at even half song is louder than most jets, it’s painted in...well nothing but bare carbon fiber with a blackened green aura and while there are creature comforts like air conditioning there isn't a boot to park your golf clubs. Guess there’s little reason to wear par fours in Dubai anyway, better to challenge the guy who owns the Veyron up the road to a drag race.
Yet for all it's dysfunction as a road or race ace, this car represents something of an unusual combination: intellectual, sexual and even diabolical. It is to the car world what for years Raquel Welch was to women and Fabio was to men - that much too much - yet completely admired (or at least understood) by all as a symbol. A symbol of absolute beauty. And ecstasy. And madness.
It looks absolutely brilliant, seemingly sculpted with the legendary racers of the past in mind; reminiscent of the Porsche GT1 911 in shape until you get to the stainless steel cylindrical exhaust cluster. The carbon fiber skin seems purposeful. And what boy-racer doesn’t revel in the yet the flash of sponsor decals. While it’s extravagant, it’s not vulgar. It might be a hothouse flower track car at best but if you had your own track and could make the laws where you lived and you had $1.5 or so million to use on toys, you know you would want one just like you would have wanted Raquel.
Fortunately AUTO art has priced their Zonda R 1:18 model at substantially less. And you don’t need to move to a camel producing country to own one. And as the R represents the zenith of Zonda-ness. this model’s craft represents new highs for AUTO art’s Signature which has been scraping the boundaries of CMC, GMP Masterpiece and Exoto Racing Legends lines. It’s now fair to say they’ve joined the club.
Not that it’s all sublime and wonderful.
For example, the carbon fiber body work replication is done not with a large set of decals as you might suspect, but with tampon printing. While this gives the finish incredible resilience, for some reason the joins can be slightly off pattern. In most room or curio case light this will hardly be noticed by neighbors and friends but in the camera eye it’s not easily forgiven. And while those other makers long ago figured out how to make removable wheels and even properly rotating knock-offs, AUTO art remains committed to a fixed wheel assembly. Pity, because the rest of this model is extraordinary.
It’s packaged in a styrofoam coffin as a top flight replica should be and comes with the usual Signature accoutrements such as a numbered certificate and cleaning cloth. The model does require some assembly with microscopic screws to mount the rear view mirrors and the spoiler. It’s a shame that only the spoiler screws are black. This does take some patience but the tools are included and as my wife will testify, if I can do it, you can do it.
Top flight stuff you say, but does it add up to a model that costs more than my last lawnmower?
The suspension, doors and steering are functional and the shut lines are tight and parts close with a firm click - the model does not suffer from a feeling of fragility: it has heft yet the delicate bits seem firmly attached. The seemingly Rocketeer-based interior, complete with Toora seats, CrMo roll cage and brushed metal console has a realism of a model costing hundreds more.
The model comes with a pamphlet that documents the specs of the real Zonda R, but also the painstaking details of the model build: over 650 parts, 69 of which are photo-etched plates, 165 tampon prints and over 200 separate painting tasks, 136 of which are freehand. Bonkers.
Brakes and wheels are perniciously replicated with logo caliper Brembo brakes, bespoke eight-point magnesium orange wheels on branded Pirelli P Zero tires. The Enegi front bonnet with real cut louvres can be removed to expose suspension and brake detail, but the real winning construction on this model is revealed by lifting the rear bonnet. When you do that, be prepared to spend an hour or so gawking at the engine/suspension. It’s here that AUTO art’s elevation of craft is fully realized, The Aspa AvionAI suspension is carefully forged with a ridiculous number of metal parts and the engine is fully plumbed with accurate color-coded wiring. “Awesome” is perhaps the most over-used word in the English language at the moment -but here it fits.
The car itself is signed by Horacio Pagani and represents an achievement over a decade in the making. Yes, it’s expensive, over $200 for an AUTO art used to be unthinkable but so was a $600 Exoto. And while not at the level of the latter’s XS line, AUTO art is proving it can make magic with the best of them. And unlike my last lawmower, this model is of heirloom quality and can be passed down for generations, when Pagani and Raquel Welch are mere trivia points on Antiques Roadshow.
Note: The Zonda R broke the Nurburgring record. Click on Zonda R Video to see more.