Saturday, 28 November 2015

Pagani Zonda "La Nonna" - A Million Kilometres Young

It's widely held that supercars are driven about as often as Swiss tanks. Maybe it's to protect their value, or to avoid hideous repair and/or maintenance bills. Maybe it's simply because the opportunities to enjoy such a machine are few and far between, requiring dry weather and quiet, wide roads with reasonable (or easily ignored) speed limits. While your mere muggle car might do 10,000 miles per year, a lot of supercars won't cover that distance in their lifetime, instead resting in air conditioned garages and occasionally being trotted out for events or a special dinner date or something.

This car has not lead that life. Instead, it's lead a real life of hard graft. This is a Pagani Zonda. Which of the many specific versions of Zonda, you might ask? Well, the short answer is that it's nearly all of them, because this is Prototype 2, a road-legal Zonda that has been used to develop parts and upgrades large and small from the original 'C12' model released in 1999 to the ultimate '760RS' of 2012 (Lewis Hamilton's is one of those). Excluding the track-only Zonda R, all the new and updated versions of the venerable hypercar through the years have been developed using this very machine... and it's been driven a long, long way.

Pagani's engineers affectionately refer to this car as "La Nonna," Italian for "The Grandmother," because it is the oldest working Zonda of all. Total mileage amounts to over 1,100,000km (>683,500 miles), done in who knows what different parts of the world and extreme conditions over a fourteen year work life, before the all-new Huayra finally went into production as a replacement in late 2012. In that time the bodywork got prettier, more aerodynamic and more extreme, while the interior got more opulent and used ever more exotic materials. The AMG "M120" V12 engine grew from 6.0 litres to 7.3 litres and power increased from 394bhp to 760bhp despite the lack of turbos or superchargers. The sound evolved from deep thunder to operatic high tenor, no doubt getting much louder as it went. Every Zonda is something extremely special, so seeing as this effectively is every Zonda, surely this one is the most special of all?

Now retired, she has been taken care of and given a beauty makeover, having been restored to a representative spec to celebrate Horacio Pagani's 60th birthday this year. Finished in the traditional silver with red interior, it borrows its all-carbon bodywork from the Zonda F and Zonda Cinque, with the Italian-flag centre stripe seen on the Zonda Tricolore. There is also a lot of exposed carbon fibre inside and out, a look Zondas have pioneered for many years.

It is unknown whether they put an original-spec engine in it, but I'd be surprised if they did. Chances are it retains the 7.3L, 760-horsepower final-spec engine, which produces 545lb/ft of torque at 4500rpm on its way to a 7500rpm red-line. Some 760s were ordered with a 6-speed manual gearbox - including Lewis Hamilton's '760LH' - but this one uses the 7-speed paddleshift 'box that the first 760RS had fitted. The top speed is probably somewhere around 220mph, up from the 1999 C12's 205mph. One review of the 760RS (which used a much lighter chassis than this old girl) claimed that it was still just as surprisingly friendly to drive normally as lesser Zondas... and that the gear ratios are so long, you can't select 7th gear unless you're doing over 60mph!

Here is a video of La Nonna pre-restoration, being used to amuse a popular supercar YouTuber (on closed roads). Note the yellow ostrich hide!

Get the impression that the test driver knows his way around the car?!

Having become finally finished, this incredible car is currently on display in the old factory showroom (where these photos were taken) while they finish constructing a new facility including a new museum, where she will ultimately reside. Seeing as it's done an average of over 78,500km (>48,800mi) per year for nearly a decade-and-a-half, I think this is one supercar that has probably earned the right to sit in an air conditioned room looking pretty and, perhaps, occasionally being taken to events.

I really admire the fact that Pagani have kept an old prototype around and tidied it up for display. Along with the endearing nickname, it shows how much they care about it. Larger car companies typically crush prototypes once they've exceeded their useful life, unless they think they can find a use for it later. This one is being officially recognised as the Zonda - no, don't call it LaZonda... - the summary of all road-going versions of a car that out-posed and out-drove two generations of Lamborghinis, and together with Koenigsegg helped bring the hypercar into the 21st century, beating the biggest names to the punch and giving us new marques to lust after (and more hard words to pronounce) in the process.

See a pictorial evolution of this car here

I wonder if there's a particular prototype of the Huayra running around the quieter parts of Modena that's now in the beginnings of its own million-kilometer development journey......

Source: via Carscoops

Article written by, and exclusively for, SmallBlogV8. Do not copy/paste onto your own inferior blog

RECOIL III - Jumping Truck Does Jumps, Is Truck

Hey everyone, remember those Recoil videos? Y'know, the ones with Ballistic BlowJob Baldwin doing MAD JUMPS off SICK RAMPS in his off-road racing Trophy Truck in viral fashion that totally didn't lift the format from Ken Block's videos? Well, now there is a third one! It has a sasquatch in it, because sasquatches are always funny and outdoorsy.

The semi-plot of this one is that "Bruce" pinches a little buggy and BJ Baldwin must go after it in his significantly faster and louder yet equally tubular-framed V8 monster with suspension travel to spare. It doesn't take long for him to get distracted by the fact that he's driving something which can do huge jumps off huge things and not disintegrate upon reacquainting with that pesky ground everyone insists on using. Being rear-wheel-drive, it's also pretty handy at drifts and donuts, so why not take a sideways look at the world while hunting for Bigfoot's buggy? I won't spoil the hilarious ending, but suffice to say that Bruce The Sasquatch doesn't give two trucks!! Ha ha! A pun! Awesomesauce, as they say.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Chris Harris Presents: THE Hyper-Hybrid Showdown

Holy shit. It happened. LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder, all in one place, on film, with stopwatches. Wow. If there's a car video on YouTube that's allowed to be over 52 minutes long, this is the one... not least because it also co-stars Tiff Needell and Marino Franchitti alongside Chris Harris. I think the internet sort of wishes this was the new TopGear!

What conclusions were drawn? I won't reveal the times (all set by Mr. Harris), only that despite different qualities, they were all but neck-and-neck. In fact, they were close enough together that you could pretty much just pick the one that takes your fancy... if you can actually decipher which one that is. To dumb them all down, the McLaren seems the most serious and physical, the Porsche the most advanced and grippy, and LaFerrari the most dramatic and exciting.

But at the end of it all, it's just about having three talented mates messing around on Portimao Circuit with about £3,000,000 and about 2800 horsepower. It'll put a smile on your face if you're even remotely interested in cars. I guarantee it.

Video from YouTube. Text from SmallBlogV8.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

FIAT 124 Spider - La Miata d'Italia

2016 FIAT 124 Spider
If you have been anywhere near the internet in the past few months, you'll know there's a new Mazda MX-5 out. What you may have missed is that the new car was acutally meant to be a co-development with Alfa Romeo... no wait, Lanica... no wait, Abarth... no wait, it's not happening at all now... no wait, it's going to be a FIAT. Well, finally, here it is: the FIAT 124 Spider.

Sitting on the MX-5's chassis and using almost all of its interior parts, the 124 is essentially a light re-body of the current "ND" generation Mazda Roadster. The proportions are the same, it's the same size, and so on and so forth.

So what are the differences? Really, there are just two. The most obvious one is of course that body:

It looks... OK? In isolation it's nice, but not spectacular... but if anything the Italian version is a little less curvaceous than the Japanese version, with a comparatively blunt nose and calmer surfacing. Hell, the rear end looks more like previous MX-5 generations than the current MX-5 does! Even the "hip" at the back of the door isn't as nicely executed, if you ask me, and that face is a let-down, almost as reminiscent of the Dodge Dart as it is of the 124 Sport Spider designed and made by Pininfarina half a century ago.

But maybe you love it. That's OK. We need more of these affordable sports cars. Beyond the somewhat uninspiring final design - which doubtless resulted from scores and scores of proposals from almost every design studio the Fiat-Chrysler Alliance has - the thing that concerns me about FIAT is that they are only interested in retro cars now. The Punto seems doomed never to be replaced, while everything else they make is either a hideously inflated 500 facsimile or the Panda, which is itself another revived badge (and is currently just a rounder version of the previous Panda). Do they lack the confidence to come up with a new design language and forge a new path? Are they just aping BMW's successful tactic of pillaging history and playing the nostalgia card, like the Germans do with MINI? I wouldn't mind if they did a retro Lancia Stratos or Alfa Romeo GTA......

At any rate, this is the car we've got, most likely because while a 500 crossover and MPV apparently are fine, a 500 roadster would've just been ridiculous. Inside it's about 95% identical to the new MX-5's interior, which is no bad thing. The trim and badges are the main differences.

The only other major difference to the Mazda lies under the bonnet. Instead of a 1.5 or 2.0 naturally-aspirated engine, you get the 1.4 turbo lump from (guess who!) the 500 Abarth producing 140bhp and 177lb/ft of torque in Europe, but 160bhp and 184lb/ft in America, where a car that isn't fast in a straight line is "for pussies." Both manual and automatic gearboxes are offered, because roadster buyers are either young petrolheads or old retired blokes and nothing in-between. Either such person gets six speeds to play with. There has thus far been no mention of what kind of differential it has, but if it lacks a mechanical LSD then that would be a little disappointing.

The FIAT will probably cost slightly more than the Mazda when it goes on sale next summer - especially if you upgrade from 'Classica' to 'Lusso' spec - and I'd like to believe that a more powerful Abarth version will arrive some time in the future. Either that, or you could take it to a specialist who can upgrade the engine to the full Abarth 695 spec, with 190 horsies or more.

If only it had ended up as an Alfa Romeo after all...