Are you one of the very few Pagani Huayra owners? If so, I'm here to let you know your car is a girl. I got this information right from the source, the chief Pagani factory test driver, Davide Testi, who has tattooed arms the size of tree trunks. This fascinating exchange happened as I watched Huayra 55 of 100 get delivered.
This was a Rich Guy's Huayra being delivered, and I was invited to come check it out prior to delivery by Mark Sternberg over at the Auto Gallery. A Pagani Huayra isn't the kind of car you see every day, so even if I wasn't going to be able to drive it and excuses would have to be made as to why someone as revolting as myself was even near it, it was worth seeing in person.
Essentially, this was sort of an unboxing event — the Huayra was delivered, fresh from the detailer, and I had the chance to, essentially, scrutinize it and leer at it like some creepy mechano-fetish pervert. But, really, I think that's okay, because in many ways, that's the whole point of this car. Sure, it has a massive 6L AMG twin-turbo V12 making over 700HP, it has a remarkable directional active-aero system that looks and feels like airplane flaps and ailerons, and while I'm sure it would be highly capable on a track, the brutal truth is almost nobody who buys one of these will track it.
This is car as rolling sculpture, more than anything. It's all about the drama of the thing — it's a massive machine designed to convert lots of premium gas into stares and gasps and lingering looks of lust and envy. The Huayra is a study in detail and craftsmanship taken to nearly absurd lengths. Every screwhead, no matter how small, has the Pagani logo embossed on it. There's leather straps and gigantic mirrors that look like alien robo-plant leaves, and the interior looks like what Jules Verne would have wanted in his airship if he had an unlimited supply of absinthe and money.
Look at that gearshift mechanism, for example. It's beautiful and faintly absurd and elegant all at the same time. It's primary purpose isn't even to select gear ratios — it's to look remarkable, and if somehow in that process gear ratios can be selected, fantastic.
For all it's over-the-top design and detailing, the Hyayra is, really, the most rational of hypercars, if you think about it in a context of the car being true to its actual use. Most hypercars tend to be machines that are clearly designed to be incredible on a track or racing — pure performance machines, and the truth is they'll almost never be used anywhere close to their potential. I'm thinking of cars like the P1 or LaFerrari or Porsche 918.
The Huayra certainly has plenty of performance potential, but it's really designed to be driven on normal roads, at normal speeds, but with 10x the drama. It's suspended softer, so it's more comfortable, the torque output is designed for great low-end acceleration — the idea was to emulate the feeling of a jet on takeoff — but maybe not optimal for a track.
The sound is designed to evoke excitement inside and outside the car and even the 11-piece set of matching luggage confirms this: you can take it on trips, because this is a car, fundamentally, designed to get attention. You need to be able to use it, at least a little bit, in cities and driving to resorts, so people will see you in the car. So, weirdly, it's one of the more practical hypercars, and it's also one that does the least pretending to be a road-able race car.
Every bit of badging and every aluminum part on the car is carved from individual solid aluminum billet. No casting — that's how animals make their aluminum parts. They even give you the remaining billet from the main "Huayra" badge when you buy the car. Oh, and a billet aluminum model of the car that's also the key.
The design concept has a strangely retro feel, with things like the central LCD screen being shaped a bit like an old CRT, and of course all the mechanical switches and leather straps. It's over the top and maybe faintly ridiculous, but it's also beautiful and striking.
What's really interesting are the few small points where the Huayra's other-world design conflicts with our boring, tedious, real world of paperwork and regulations and full bladders and reams of copier paper. Like the side marker lights. These are US-only requirements, and it's clear they're some catalog part stuck on at the last minute. Even the Pagani representative conceded that they could probably do that better.
And then there was the fascinating question of how and where to stick the US-scale license plate. The panel for a plate is sized for a wide European plate, and there's no mounting brackets or holes or anything. There was an unspoken undercurrent to the discussion that said this car doesn't need a regular-garbage-person license plate, does it? California law says otherwise, but the Pagani doesn't seem like it gives a shit, and seeing one with license plates makes the car look a little like a supermodel holding your 2-day old tuna sandwich. There's clear distaste.
Each Huayra feels like a one-off custom car, more so than many super/hypercars. It's a paradox — it's not a car that makes technical, rational sense, but once you accept the irrational reasons for its existence, it fits into its role perfectly. It's a rolling mass of about 3200 lbs of the most intense mechanical drama you can imagine, and in that sense it's strange and beautiful.
Like a bad girl, as the man said.