In 1999, Pagani unveiled their first supercar: the Zonda. Powered by a 395-horsepower six-liter Mercedes V12, it was the first car to truly give Ferrari and Lamborghini a run for their money. It looked cool, sounded incredible, and drove wonderfully. The Zonda was so successful, in fact, that Pagani decided to update it in 2002, after building just five original models.
The next car, dubbed the Zonda S, used a larger, seven-liter Mercedes v12. This variant improved on the original Zonda’s performance figures without losing any wow factor. But Pagani didn’t stop there. Power, displacement, and speed all increased with little tweaks here and there over the years. The first significant update came in 2005 in the form of the Zonda F. This model upped horsepower to 594 for the hardtop and 641 for the subsequently released F Roadster. Many Pagani fans believed the F Clubsport, a lightweight F Roadster, would be the last Zonda.
In 2007, however, the Zonda showed off its newly rebellious self at the Geneva Motor Show. This variant, known as the Zonda R, was intended to compete with such track-day specials as the Ferrari FXX, and thus did not bother with pesky road regulations. Its engine, a variant of which powered the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, produced 740 horsepower and more noise than Krakatoa. The car also sported a bare carbon fiber body, a rear wing that could seat a Super Bowl audience, and a race-inspired sequential manual transmission.
If the Zonda R sounds like it was intended for all-out track performance, it was. And the numbers back it up. The R lapped the Nurburgring in 6:47, which at the time was faster than any production car. Ever. It also made its way around the Top Gear test track in one minute and eight and a half seconds, which was faster than the Ferrari FXX. Two point two seconds faster than the Ferrari FXX. The 860-horsepower Ferrari FXX. With Michael Schumacher behind the wheel.
However, there was a problem. A glaring one. Anyone who has attended a NASCAR race will know that fast vehicles designed for track use tend to make a lot of noise. Standing at the front row of an F1 event is like using a Marshall amplifier as an earphone. Naturally, this has led to complaints by neighbors, and anyone within earshot — or, more specifically, a one-thousand-mile radius. So most racetracks have implemented restrictions that cap the amount of noise a vehicle may emit.
In comparison to the amount of noise the Zonda R makes, this limit is a whisper. The R so loud, in fact, that it flatly cannot be driven on most racetracks. The lucky few auto journalists who have tested the R have had to use special microphones to speak to their audience — otherwise, only engine noise is discernible. So you could buy one of the most incredible track cars of all time. But you couldn’t actually drive it on a track.
You couldn’t drive it on the street either. Or in an actual race, since there are bylaws governing many different characteristics of racing vehicles. Effectively, the Zonda R was a multimillion-dollar paperweight. One might imagine that the market for a laughably expensive car that cannot be driven anywhere would be rather slim, and the R would be an obscure one-off, ending up a footnote in automotive history.
But it wasn’t. Five years later, after producing a few examples of a road-legal, toned-down Zonda R, Pagani revealed the Zonda Revolución. This variant was like the R, except more insane. It developed 800 horsepower. It weighed under 2,400 pounds. Pagani says its top speed was simply “over 350 kph.” It had a Bosch 12-way traction control system. Pagani took the Zonda R — which it had already cranked to 11 — and turned everything up to 12 with the Revolución.
Of course, the Revolución suffered from the same issues as the original Zonda R did, which rendered it as useful of a car as a blade of grass is as a hacksaw. And that is why the Revolución is the most ridiculous supercar of all time. It took the Zonda R — an example of what pushing the limits of engineering could accomplish — and made it even more absurd in every capacity. It’s an homage to excess and a carbon-fiber middle finger to conformity. The Zonda Revolución is the embodiment of what’s possible when you throw all rules out the window, and for that, you have to love it.