Abu Dhabi | Lot 124
2017 Pagani Zonda Aether
$6,812,500 USD | Sold
| Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
30 November 2019
- Offered from the collection of its first owner
- One-off ‘760’-specification roadster, 131st of 140 Zonda production road cars to be built
- Fitted with an ultra-desirable six-speed manual gearbox and a host of unique features
- Displaying less than 1,400 km from new
- Widely regarded as one of the finest and last manual-transmission, naturally aspirated supercars ever built
The extraordinary story of Horacio Pagani and his creation, the Zonda, seems virtually unrepeatable today. A single man’s passion and desire to create a peerless supercar in terms of performance and design, which would see him emigrate from a rural town in Argentina to Modena, Italy, and found his eponymous company, has now resulted in one of the most globally recognised and revered brands and the iconic Zonda that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
One relationship was key to the creation of the Zonda: that of Horacio Pagani and fellow Argentinian and five-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio. Fangio recognised the rare talents and determination of Horacio Pagani and not only wrote letters of recommendation for his young compatriot that helped him move to Italy and develop his vital relationship with Mercedes-Benz, but also assisted in the early development of the Zonda. Fangio passed away four years before Pagani’s first Zonda would be completed, but his legacy is repeatedly honoured in the company’s products.
An unprecedented attention to detail and pursuit of perfection resulted in Pagani taking seven years to complete the first Zonda C12, an incredible length of time considering the fast pace of supercar development and the fact that this project was an entirely private enterprise for Horacio Pagani and his young family. Ready in time for its launch at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show, the Zonda C12 immediately impressed journalists, but nobody fully appreciated what the relatively unknown Pagani Automobili would become, turning supercar design into more of an artform whilst never compromising the single-mindedness of the engineering behind its products.
The Zonda would evolve from the C12 with its Mercedes-Benz 6.0-litre V-12 engine, delivering 444 bhp to the extravagant HP Barchetta with the now legendary AMG-tuned 7.3-litre V-12 producing 789 bhp, whilst always keeping its kerb weight below a remarkable 1,300 kg. Pagani Automobili’s ability to produce unique cars specified to the exact desires of its clients is unmatched outside Modena, and eventually a short run of ‘760’-specification Zondas would emerge. Each and every one of these ‘760’ Zondas is unique, making them some of the most special Zondas to leave the factory in San Cesario sul Panaro. All of them feature the most advanced iteration of Zonda chassis with a carbo-titanium monocoque, a material developed by Pagani in which titanium and carbon weave are bonded together to benefit from the engineering properties of both materials. In addition to the chassis, all ‘760’ Zondas feature an engine tuned further to 749 bhp, with the original brief for the engine to match the performance figures of the raw track-only Zonda R.
Named after the pure air high above the clouds, the Aether is one of the finest of Horacio Pagani’s creations, a full ‘760’-specification roadster tastefully specified throughout, resulting in one of the most aesthetically pleasing Zondas in existence. Finished towards the end of 2017 and importantly using a chassis number and carbo-titanium chassis that has only ever been utilized by the Aether, this Zonda is fitted with the full ‘760’-specification 7.3-litre V-12 engine capable of just beyond 8,000 rpm, where it delivers its full 749 bhp. The incredible shriek of the AMG V-12 is unique to the Zonda, thanks in part to the beautifully sculpted and ceramic-coated exhaust manifolds which lead into four blue exhaust silencers by MHG before exiting in the Pagani trademark of four exhausts within a black circle for the Aether. One of the most pleasing aspects of driving the Aether with no roof is the ability to hear the wonderful induction noise of the monstrous V-12 sucking air through Aether-engraved air boxes connected to the Cinque-style snorkel inches away from the occupants.
Mated to the V-12 is one of the most desirable aspects of the Aether, the six-speed manual transmission. The evolution of the supercar into the hybrid era has left enthusiasts hearkening back to the analogue driving experience of manual transmissions and naturally aspirated engines; the Aether is a perfect swan song for this, with the same gearbox that was fitted to all the production Zondas before the introduction of the Cinque.
Pagani’s unmatched reputation for attention to detail is bolstered with the Aether, as the number of non-standard features throughout this Zonda are too numerous to list in this catalogue. One design value is very evident in the Aether, and that is the competition-inspired nature of this Zonda. The interior is fitted with sculpted Zonda HP Barchetta/Huayra BC–style seats, clothed in luscious black leather with red diamond stitching, complemented by four-point harnesses. Further special features include the deletion of interior door handles, replaced by leather pull straps, along with a large starter button in the centre console, LED rev counter, extra oil gauges, and a gear selection read-out. Aether is engraved in various places to further reinforce its uniqueness.
The exterior is as impressive as any Zonda, boasting exposed carbon-fibre throughout, save for a painted Cinque-inspired red stripe and matching highlights. The exposed carbon fibre is beautifully finished, with the wings and sides finished with a lacquer, and the central section and lower sides and skirts of the body left in matte, further highlighting the stunning shape of this Zonda. The aerodynamic features of the Aether take strong cues from the Zonda R, with an R-style front splitter, dive planes, side skirts, and a large rear diffuser. Further Zonda R–inspired features include the rear brake ducts along with front wing louvers first seen on the Cinque. As one of the last Zondas built, the Aether also benefits from recent Pagani styling with Huayra roadster-inspired aero details above the rear lights, sat beneath the imposing ‘760’-specification rear wing. Finishing off the exterior features are the stunning black forged alloy wheels with contrasting red centre-lock wheel nuts, all with carbon-ceramic brakes and red Brembo calipers.
Since delivery to its first and only owner at the beginning of 2018, the Aether was used on the European 2018 Pagani Raduno, Vanishing Point, before being put into dry storage with less than 1,400 km on the odometer. Most recently it has been subject to an inspection at Pagani UK, where a couple of very minor issues were corrected under warranty to ensure that it is presented in virtually as-new condition for its next owner. Importantly, the Aether is accompanied by its original books, cover, carbon-fibre roof, and fitted luggage made specifically for the Aether.
The appearance of a Zonda on the open market is an extremely rare occurrence, this being the first example to be offered at a collector car auction in nearly seven years. Undoubtedly one of the finest examples ever to leave the factory, the Aether represents one of the most desirable Zonda specifications in existence, being a ‘760’ roadster with a six-speed manual transmission. Built from new as the aptly named Aether to the first and only owner’s desires, and offered with extremely low mileage, this is an unmissable opportunity for any collector to own one of the last Zondas produced. This is a car born from a single man’s passion and a truly wonderful swan song for the naturally aspirated, manual-transmission supercar.