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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.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

There are no coincidences in the automotive world, so it was no surprise that I found myself riding shotgun in a 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle prototype in front of SpaceX and Tesla's offices in Los Angeles. Ford's all-electric crossover is their most ambitious electric vehicle project to date. With styling, range, and debut location, they proved that they are targeting Tesla and their customers.

The Mustang Mach-E is, according to Ford, 100-percent Mustang. For those who are used to seeing the Mustang as a sports coupe with rear-wheel drive, an electric crossover with available all-wheel drive bearing the Mustang name might be eyebrow raising.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The Mustang Mach-E has many exterior design attributes usually reserved for the Mustang coupe.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

That skepticism is one of the many reasons why, during a secret reveal ahead of the global debut, Ford shuttled me around Hawthorne, California in one of the Mustang Mach-E prototypes. The company was out to prove to me that they built a vehicle worthy of the Mustang name.

The model Ford put me in was the Mustang Mach-E Premium all-wheel drive, extended range model. That EV runs to 60 mph from a standstill in a hair over 5 seconds. Because electric motors make torque immediately, the car pushes the driver and passengers relentlessly back in their seat as they make that run. The torque makes the car feel faster than it is.

For folks who want to go faster, the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance trim should do that same run in around 3 seconds. When the GT Performance goes on sale in early 2021 (late 2020 for the other models), the quickest accelerating Mustang you'll be able to buy will likely be electric.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E interior seats cabin The cabin of the new model is spacious.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

On a route around Hawthorne, I was able to experience the car's on-road manners. Even though it was an early prototype, the cabin was quiet. That's in part due to the lack of a motor but also because of the car's three performance modes for the Mach-E – Whisper, Engaged and Unbridled. In Unbridled mode, which is what I experienced, the car allows computer-generated internal combustion engine-like sounds to flow into the cabin when accelerating hard.

Unlike the Jaguar I-Pace's piped-in growl, the Mach-E's sounds natural for a performance car. It doesn't exactly sound like a gasoline-powered car, but it adds a soundtrack to the spirited drive that this author doesn't find obtrusive. In Whisper mode, the car is relatively silent.

Cornering, at least from the passenger seat, felt relatively flat. The low center of gravity of the battery pack helps a ton. Right now, there is no adjustable suspension system, like MagneRide, that is available on other Mustang models.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E infotainment screen steering wheel dashboard Ford has simplified the interior of the car in a very Tesla-esque fashion.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Mustang Mach-E takes many interior cues from Tesla design though many elements are unmistakably from the Ford team. There is a large, center-mounted screen that handles most of the controls of the infotainment system and vehicle functionality. Interestingly, while the center screen handles most of it, there still is an instrument cluster to provide vitals – something Tesla has done away with.

Display vehicles had gobs of space inside, including numerous of storage cubbies for nearly everything. Fit and finish were solid for vehicles this far along in the process and it felt more Tesla Model 3 inside than Mustang.

The new infotainment system supports routing based on how long you'll sit at a charger and which chargers you need to stop at – basically what a Tesla does. Another first for Ford is support for both wireless Apple Car Play and wireless Android Auto.

Additionally, the Mustang Mach-E has truly hands-off Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. It'll be an over-the-air update after launch for customers, but there are cameras in the car that watch the driver to make sure they are paying attention. If they are, and the roads are digitally mapped, the Mach-E will handle most of the driving duties for the driver. The system is very similar to how Cadillac's Super Cruise technology works and is not hands-off.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E rear seat back sunroof moonroof panoramic vegan leather The rear seats of the Mustang Mach-E offer more legroom than what you'll find in the Jaguar I-Pace.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It's difficult to determine how good a car is going to be based on a ten-minute ride in the passenger seat. However, it is obvious even after that little time that Ford checked all the right boxes during the development of their new EV. This is likely the first viable mainstream competitor to Tesla, and Tesla should consider themselves put on notice.

In short, the Mustang Mach-E should have performance similar to the Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model 3, but with more rear seat headroom than the I-Pace, and better reliability. It looks far more attractive than the Nissan Leaf or anything the Korean automakers are doing, and since it'll be available in all 50 states, you'll be able to purchase and repair it in a town near you, just like what you could do with an F-150.

Jessica Hawkins, stunt driver, sits behind the wheel of the 2020 Land Rover Defender on the set of 'No Time to Die'.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

When James Bond knocks, you answer. Whether it's Aston Martin or Land Rover, British auto brands have been well represented in the forthcoming James Bond movie "No Time to Die".

The new Land Rover Defender 110 appears alongside Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Naomie Harris, Ralph Finnes, and Ben Whitshaw. It is featured in a change sequence that showcases the vehicle's prowess in extreme off road conditions. Behind the scenes photos of the action show stunt coordinator Lee Morrison, who has worked on Jason Bourne, Indiana Jones, and James Bond movies, and stunt driver Jessica Hawkins, who competes in the W Series, at work.

The Land Rover Defender 110 driving through thick mud during filming of "No Time to Die."

"Designing and coordinating the action sequences for the Bond franchise requires a non-compromising mindset." said Morrison. "We needed an unstoppable vehicle to help us battle against the elements, steep descents and river crossings so we chose the new Defender. I'm beyond impressed that the Defender is not only back but much, much better!"

The Defender appears alongside the Range Rover Sport SVR, Land Rover Series III, and Range Rover Classic as the Bond character, played by Craig, traverses the globe to rescue a kidnapped scientist.

Land Rover's design team worked closely with Special Effects and Action Vehicles Supervisor Chris Corbould to spec the Defender vehicles in the film. They are based on the Defender X model in Santorini Black, with darkened skid pans, 20-inch dark finish wheels, and professional off-road tires. The modes were the first Defender vehicles to be built at Jaguar Land Rover's new production facility in Nitra, Slovakia.

No Time To Die | Land Rover USA www.youtube.com

Land Rover has had a long-standing partnership with EON Productions on the Bond films, going back to 1983 when a Range Rover Convertible appeared in "Octopussy".

The Land Rover Defender 110 featured in "No Time To Die" will be on display for the first time in Los Angeles during the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Consumers can see the vehicle at the 2019 Los Angeles International Auto Show between November 20 and December 1, 2019.

"No Time to Die" will be released starting April 2, 2020 in the U.K. and in the U.S on April 10.

The Defender 110 will be priced from $49,900 in the U.S. and will go on sale in the spring.