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Meet Horacio Pagani, the man who changed supercars into hypercars

This still, from the Pagani Automobili video "Huayra Roadster BC", shows Horacio Pagani sharing his love of automobiles with a young fan.

Photo courtesy of Pagani Automobili

Before the Pagani brand name became synonymous with supercars and hypercars, company founder Horacio Pagani had to travel many miles from the small town of Casilda, Argentina where he was born in 1955.

As a child Horacio would make miniature car models, read about exotic European motor shows, and study legends of the industry like Enzo Ferrari and the Maserati brothers. He dreamed of traveling to Modena, Italy, a town known for being the home of renowned tenor Luciano Pavoratti that would become better known as being the home to the Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Pagani, and Maserati automobile companies.

Horacio also learned about Leonardo Da Vinci, another famous Italian. He read a quote by Da Vinci that would set him on his path: "Art and Science are two disciplines that must walk together hand in hand."

Museo Horacio Pagani www.youtube.com

By 1979, Horacio had spent two years crafting a Formula 2 single-seater racecar, working each bit of the car's minutiae except the car's engine, which was supplied by Renault. The detail work of the car attracted the attention of Oreste "El Mago" Berta, one of the world's leading automotive engineers, and five-time Formula 1 World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio.

This was his turning point.

A tent, a suitcase, and two bicycles are all that Horacio and his wife Chrisina left home with when they set off for Italy in December 1982. They didn't know if they would be able to find a job there once they arrived. The automotive industry in Italy was suffering from a slump during as the changing tides of buyer purchasing behavior moved quicker than brands like Alfa Romeo and Lancia were able to adjust. Letters of introduction and recommendation from Fangio did little to help his cause.

Despite living on a shoestring budget and making his wages doing odd jobs, Horacio never lost site of his dream.

UNSUNG HEROES #73 - The Lamborghini Countach Evoluzione www.youtube.com

He was able to put together several solid months of employment at Automobili Lamborghini before the company moved to hire him as a mechanic. His passion burned so bright that Horacio quickly gained a reputation for his work ethic, being the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at the end of the day. After dinner he would delve back into sports car design and production issues.

In 1985, at 30 years young, Horacio was promoted to lead the new Composite Material department where he participated in the design of the Lamborghini Countach Evoluzione, a one-off prototype that was created to test multiple forthcoming designs that would be the basis for future Lamborghini product using technology usually reserved for the aerospace industry. Some of its attributes and features made their way to the Lamborghini Diablo, the automaker's first mid-engine model, when it debuted in 1990.

With his work on this prototype, Horacio learned that the future of sports cars would focus on efficiency, safety, and lightweighting. He took this knowledge and tried to convince Lamborghini to purchase an autoclave so they could make composite materials on a large scale. When he was turned down, he went to the bank, got a loan, and bought the machine himself, installing it inside a rented building near the Lamborghini plant. He used the autoclave to conduct research and development that he would harvest in the future.

The onset of a world economic crisis is not the time when many financial planners would advise to start a business, but it was then, during the late 1980s, that Horacio decided to strike out on his own, founding Modena Design, making leading-edge composite bodies for Renault, Daihatsu, Ferrari Formula 1, Aprilia and Dallara. In the overnight hours, he worked on his own car, soon to be known as the Fangio F1.

Pagani rear logo The company now known as Pagani Automobili started as Modena Design in the late 1980s. Photo by Getty Images

Following several years of development on the Fangio F1, Horacio met then-Mercedes-Benz chief engineer Dieter Zetsche, the man with a mustache the Lorax would envy who is affectionately known as Dr. Z, who would go on to be the Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz. Horacio showed Dr. Z the Fangio F1 prototype he was working on and Zetsche exclaimed, ""It looks like a timeless car!" to which Horacio replied: "Thank God! Because I don't have any money and I'll need a lot of time to make it."

Months after their meeting, Zetsche agreed to supply Horacio with the 450-horsepower,12-cylinder Mercedes-Benz M120 engine that would help begin to make Horacio's dream a reality.

In March 1999, the car was officially presented at the Geneva Motor Show under the mark name Zonda. It was different. Very different. There was almost an unprecedented level of attention to detail. Using the term supercar wasn't enough to describe the model. It became the world's first hypercar, seamlessly blending science with art.

The Pagani Huayra Story - A Documentary www.youtube.com

Pagani Automobili had arrived.

First with Honda, then with Huayra, Pagani has broken speed records and made technological breakthroughs, all in style.

Neither Pagani nor Horacio are done. The company and the man have more ambitious goals they wish to achieve in their mission to create further timeless models that never lose sight of Horacio's, or Da Vinci's, vision.

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The 2022 Lexus ES will debut next week.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The meat and potatoes of the Lexus sedan lineup, the ES, is due for a refresh, and it will get one. The 2022 Lexus ES will be shown publicly for the first time this Sunday as part of the festivities of the Shanghai auto show.

While the photo doesn't tell a lot, there's some things you can bet on in the 2022 ES. For starters, look for all the improvements that the auto has gotten over the last two years to carry over into the new model. That includes the addition of all-wheel drive to the lineup and standard blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The ES Black Line may not make its way to the 2022 version of the midsize sedan. Generally, blacked out editions are available only at the tail end of a model run ahead of a refresh or generational redesign. However, the blacked out elements could become available as part of a package.

The headlight photo that Lexus has offered as a teaser shows a housing that is not dissimilar to the one that the Lexus IS wears. However, the daytime running light is on the bottom here, instead off the top. Like the IS, there are strong hood lines.

At the back, the preview video shows a vehicle that is very similar to the current model. It's taillights, a strong chrome line that runs the width of the year, and rear lip spoiler all look mostly same as before.

As for what to expect underneath the body of the car, there's not a lot of indication from the teasers, which leads one to believe that's where the biggest changes are coming. There's a good chance that we'll finally say goodbye to the Lexus touch pad in favor of a touch screen display that's within a comfortable distance.

It's also likely that Lexus will fine tune the dynamics of the ES in a similar fashion to how the Lexus IS got more performance-focused driving dynamics in its latest redo.

Stay tuned for more specifics are the curtain is pulled back on April 19 in China (April 18 in the U.S.).

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Honda is working with Verizon on self-driving cars technology.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.

The Mcity campus was designed to be a proving ground for new technologies. Honda and Verizon are utilizing it as such as they partner to explore how Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband and 5G Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) can be used to ensure quick and reliable communication between road infrastructure, vehicles, and pedestrians.

The 5G technology leverages cloud technology to deliver lower latency, a large amount of bandwidth, and improved communication. This communication includes the way that vehicles interact with ther cars, traffic lights, pedestrians and emergency vehicles to improve threat detection and avoid accidents when seconds matter most. That's where the "V2" in acronyms like "V2V" (vehicle-to-vehicle) and "V2X" (vehicle- to-everything).

Honda and Verizon Test How 5G Enhances Safety for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles www.youtube.com

Honda has been working since 2017 to develop a technology that will help to create a collision-free society. The technology, called Safe Swarm, uses V2X communication to enable vehicles to communicate with other road users and share key information such as location, speed, and vehicle sensor data.

There are some obstacles, not the least of which is the need to outfit each vehicle with onboard artificial intelligence capabilities. The use of 5G helps move the AI capabilities from the vehicle to the MEC, reducing the need for AI onboard each vehicle.

"The ability to move computing power to the edge of our 5G network is an essential building block for autonomous and connected vehicles, helping cars to communicate with each other in near real-time and with sensors and cameras installed in streets and traffic lights," said Sanyogita Shamsunder, vice president of Technology Development and 5G Labs at Verizon. "When you consider that roughly 42,000 people were killed in car accidents last year and 94% of accidents are caused by human error, our new technologies including 5G and MEC can help drivers 'see' things before the human eye can register and react helping to prevent collisions and save lives."

Three safety scenarios have been explored as part of the testing:

  • Pedestrian Scenario - A pedestrian is crossing a street at an intersection. An approaching driver cannot see the pedestrian due to a building obstructing the view. Smart cameras mounted in the intersection relay information to MEC using the 5G network. Verizon's MEC and V2X software platforms detect the pedestrian and vehicle and determine the precise location of road users assisted by Verizon's Hyper Precise Location services. A visual warning message is then sent alerting the driver of the potential danger.
  • Emergency Vehicle Warning Scenari - A driver cannot see an approaching emergency vehicle and cannot hear its siren due to the high volume of in-vehicle audio. Verizon's MEC and V2X software receive a safety message from the emergency vehicle and send a warning message to nearby vehicles. The driver receives a visual warning.
  • Red Light Runner Scenario - A vehicle fails to stop at a red light. Using data from the smart cameras, MEC and V2X software detect the vehicle and send a red-light-runner visual warning message to other vehicles approaching the intersection.

You can watch the video of Honda and Verizon's Mcity tests at http://honda.us/5GResearch.

Honda isn't the only company exploring what 5G communication can offer. Pirelli has installed the tech in its tires and BMW recently updated its My BMW app to make it compatible with the new technology. Audi is working on similar technology out on the road in Virginia and Georgia.

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