Pagani Goes Downmarket, McLaren Goes Upmarket

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
pagani goes downmarket mclaren goes upmarket

Italian supercar upstarts Pagani started with one car, the Zonda, and have maintained a laser-like focus on that single nameplate ever since. Former supercar heavyweight McLaren is re-entering the road car arena with its V8-powered Ferrari Italia-fighter, the MP4-12C, but is fast-tracking the development of its range-topping supercar, pitched as a neo-McLaren F1 and aimed at the Zonda and its hypercar ilk. Recession? What Recession?

The new McLaren, provisionally named the F1 by Autocar, will follow its inspiration’s emphasis on low weight and will be built around a carbon monocoque similar to the MP4-12C’s. The new McLaren should fit in above the MP4-12C’s $250k base price, possibly costing as much as the €500k that the new Pagani C9 is expected to cost. But that Zonda replacement will also be accompanied by a smaller, V8-powered Zonda, presumably powered by Mercedes’ 6.3 liter V8. This “baby” Pagani joins the MP4-12C in making the Ferrari 458 Italia’s job a lot harder, jamming the quarter-million-dollar supercar field with more options. What’s a newly wealthy showoff to choose?

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4 of 11 comments
  • StevenJJ StevenJJ on Jul 07, 2010

    Being technically superior to anything in their price bracket alone will ensure Ron sells all his motors.

  • Mythicalprogrammer Mythicalprogrammer on Jul 07, 2010

    Was going to rant on about how Pagani ain't even street legal until I googled it. Their C9 is going to be street legal. Meh, doesn't mean squat. McLaren have a much better racing heritage.

  • Niky Niky on Jul 07, 2010

    @Libertyman03: Wouldn't call it a "kit car" if you've seen it up close. It's built with more exotic materials than most... and most supercar makers don't have the gumption or the quality of carbon-fiber to actually make perfectly aligned matchbook carbon-fiber weaves straight down the center of the car. Granted... the parts-bin headlights and tail-lights point to the fact that Pagani doesn't have the volume to design or build its own... but a lot of small and exclusive supercar makers have raided parts bins for lights... Lamborghini used tractor lights on some of its cars, and the McLaren's rear lamps are from a bus. Morgan's Aero uses BMW MINI headlights. Pagani designed the car from the ground up himself... was going to name it the Fangio after the legendary driver, but Fangio convinced him to use the Zonda name. The details are unusual, yes, but the shape is much, much cleaner and sexier than many modern "supercars", which look like blobs. Pagani was going for something aesthetic instead of functionally aerodynamic... and in doing so, also created one of the easiest to look out of supercars of all time. And according to those who've had the pleasure, one of the best driving ones, too. Sigh. Not that I'd ever be able to afford one.

  • Alex Nigro Alex Nigro on Jul 07, 2010

    Given the choice between the MP4-12C and the 458 Italia, I'll take the MP4-12C. It's quicker, lighter, and it looks better. The 458 Italia looks like it came out of a Ridge Racer game.