When I was watching the Richard Hammond’s review of Pagani Huayra on TopGear, watched its out-of-this world aerodynamic features, the steam punk interior, obsessive attention to detail and strangely understated, yet magnificient design, it occurred to me that this it The supercar of our time.
Yes, Richard Hammond said something similar just a few seconds later. He mentioned the “innocence” of Pagani, not owned (yet) by any of the big corporations, enabling it to freely explore the craziest ideas and retain the soul, while others, like Lamborghini or Ferrari, are choked by corporate politics.
But I don’t think he’s only partially right. Even if Lamborghini or Ferrari were totally independent, they would never do anything as groundbreaking like Miura was half a century ago, or like Huayra is now. Because supercars, and their makers, are like rock’n’roll stars. They are loud, obnoxious, born to break the law…and firmly rooted in their times.
[Ed: Today we're resurrecting Submissions Thursday to feature a piece from longtime internet car guy friend Vojta Dobes, a.k.a. Bobash, a.k.a. an awesome guy in the Czech republic with a penchant for American Iron.]
Let’s look at the brand that defined the supercar as we know it – Lamborghini. It’s like typical British rock’n’roll band from the sixties. The Miura represented “The Beatles moment” in the supercar world. It was revolutionary, it was a bit rebellious, but still kinda cute and polished. With the transverse V12 engine, it was doing things differently, but it was beautiful, not provocative. It could make thousands of fans scream in ecstasy, but it could also show up in Buckingham Palace without causing a scandal.
But that was not the end of British invasion, nor the end of supercar revolution. After those four clean-cut boys from Liverpool prepared ground, there came another band. They were louder, they were obnoxious and they didn’t gave a shit about the rules. They were called The Rolling Stones. And likewise the Lamborghini Countach didn’t give a shit. With bright colors and angular shapes, it was guaranteed to attract stares. It was tough to drive and its handling required the driver to have some Sympathy For The Devil. And it was as obnoxious as Mick Jagger’s big mouth.
Countach stayed on the market for nearly two decades. It evolved from the pure, clean and groundbreaking Aftermath like original to brash and slightly tacky Emotional Rescue of the LP500S or 25th Anniversary. But when the time came to replace it, nothing groundbreaking has happened. The Countach was replaced by younger, sleeker version of itself, with the Diablo. And then Murciélago. And lately, the Aventador. Like Rolling Stones were able to reinvent themselves, but not invent anything new with Voodoo Lounge or A Bigger Bang, the famous brand continued with more and more variations of the same.
New Lamborghinis are still wonderful machines, in the same way that going to the Stones’ concert is still great fun and even their latest albums are still great music. But Lamborghini is not any more likely to launch a groundbreaking supercar than Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are to come up with revolution in music. However we may love them, they are just… old.
And it’s not just about Rolling Stones and Lamborghini. This also explains, why Ferrari has never built a true supercar, and never will. The Modena company was well established before the dawn of supercar era and it’s DNA was built on racecars, sportscars and GT’s. It’s not a rocker at heart. It’s like Frank Sinatra, or Tom Jones. It’s part of the establishment, it will show up in tuxedo, perform flawlessly and take itself very seriously. It may be a Sex Bomb, but it ain’t no rock’n’roll.
On the other end of the scale, the Viper, with its unsophisticated character and primitive truck engine represented antidote to increasing complexity and polishment of supercars in the same way crude sound of Ramones was reaction to the overproduced glam rock movement. And while the Viper aged, matured and got a little bit softer and more safe, not unlike its punk rock counterparts, it never ceased to be a blunt, truck-engined tool. Like aging punk-rocker, who maybe got wiser and won’t punch you just because he doesn’t like the way you look at him, but remained the same in his heart.
Which brings us to crucial question – where does Pagani fit in this scheme of things? It’s thoroughly modern, with NASA-grade materials and AMG engines. It’s exquisitely made, and its combination of space-age aerodynamic exterior and steampunk interior is unlike anything we have seen before. To me, Pagani is the Pearl Jam of the supercar world. From the Zonda, coming out of nowhere like Ten album did in the early 1990, to the brand new Huayra.
Thirty years from now, people will not be talking about Bridges To Babylon or Murciélago LP640 nearly as much as about Binaural or Huayra. Because those are the rock’n’roll…