Carbotanium or Titbon: What You Get When You Mix Carbon Fiber With Titanium

Illustration for article titled Carbotanium or Titbon: What You Get When You Mix Carbon Fiber With Titanium

Pagani’s two million dollar Zonda Cinque is built of a new twist on carbon fiber: carbotanium. Top Gear’s expert linguists deconstruct the Italian supercarmaker’s latest Oakley-ism.

Say what you will about the preposterousness of the Pagani Zonda, the man who builds them has certainly got his material science nailed. The foundation Horacio Pagani has built his eponymous company on is comparable in solidity only to the material he creates his Zondas from: carbon fiber.

For Pagani did not set out at a foolish young age to make his as-close-to-kindergarten-art-as-possible supercars. He paid his dues at Lamborghini, working his way up in the organization until he designed the very Zonda-like 25th Anniversary Countach. Lesser men would then jump headfirst into car construction, but not Pagani: he followed by founding the carbon fiber consultancy Modena Design. By the time he finally got around to building the first Zonda in 1999—the C12—he had been working non-stop with carbon fiber since the first days it cropped up in car design. Allowing the Zonda to become the nimblest yet most rigid supercar of its day.


The last version of the Zonda is the R and its street legal offshoot, the Cinque. On a recent episode of Top Gear, the Cinque was featured in connection with the material it is made out of: an amalgam of carbon fiber and titanium. As quoted from a press release by Richard Hammond, the material is called carbotanium by the Pagani people—only for James May to retort that an equally obvious linguistic move could have resulted in titbon.

The timestamp on this blogpost shall also serve as an anchor for a countdown to the inevitable day when a pair of Oakley sunglasses will be manufactured from the same material. The name itself is so Oakley it hurts. And they certainly don’t shy away from working with titanium.

The artwork above is Natalie Polgar’s “The Incompatibility of Zondas with the Subantarctic Environment,” from The Pagani Zonda Field Guide.

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That link should go somewhere. I wonder if commenting 2.0 still strips out html tags

If this is what they are proposing, it seems that the carbon-fiber composite-titanium laminate structure behaves more like a metal when it fails, rather than the carbon-composite's rupturing.