Carbon fiber is nearly ubiquitous in supercars. They now all seem to have at least one carbon piece, just in case. Horacio Pagani saw this revolution coming in the 1980s when he worked at Lamborghini. The Lamborghini bosses didn't see the revolution. So Pagani took his destiny into his own hands and ignored everyone at Lambo.
(Full Disclosure: On a recent vacation I had the opportunity to visit the Pagani factory and take a little tour. While there, the tale of Pagani's first autoclave was told during our factory tour. It has led a more interesting life than Ferruccio Lamborghini.)
Horacio Pagani is a man obsessed with carbon fiber and lightweight construction. As an engineer at Lamborghini in the 1980s, Horacio was constantly begging the brass at Lamborghini for an autoclave to build cars out of a new material: Carbon fiber.
At the time, Pagani was told that if Ferrari wasn't building cars out of carbon fiber, then there was no need for Lamborghini to do it either. The request to purchase an autoclave was totally denied.
Instead of ceding defeat, Pagani took his destiny into his own hands. He marched into a bank (I like to imagine him marching), demanded a loan (I like to imagine him demanding), got the loan (he did get the loan), and then went and purchased his very own autoclave in a sort of lightweight technology coup over Lambo's brass and engineers.
What resulted was the Countach Evoluzione, a carbon fiber and aluminum Countach conceived by Pagani's brand new composites department. The weight reduction with the composites was staggering, as the Evoluzione weighted about 2,200 pounds. That's 1,100 pounds less than the standard Countach weighed.
But that wasn't enough to convince Lamborghini. The Evoluzione was deemed too expensive to build and difficult to repair when crashed (you know it would be crashed) and the project was scrapped. Pagani had lost. But he still owned that autoclave.
And just as Lamborghini rejected the idea of a car using composite construction, Ferrari released the F40, a road car built from composites. Pagani must have been both slightly livid and totally smug. He stayed at Lamborghini for a few more years but left in the early 1990s.
When he left, he took the autoclave that built the Countach Evoluzione with him, leaving Lamborghini's carbon fiber department completely empty.
That same autoclave is not a museum. It's not scrapped. It's not broken. That autoclave is now in Pagani's shop outside Modena, where it is still used to build Huayras along another, larger autoclave.
Most of all, it's a not so subtle "I told you so" to Pagani's neighbors in Sant'Agata.