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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 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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Musical artist H.E.R. has worked with Honda designers to customize a Civic Type R.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
H.E.R. graced the stage at the 2021 Honda Civic Tour but before that happens, the R&B singer-songwriter has put her stamp on a custom-designed Honda Civic Type R. This one-off is part of a longstanding tradition of Civic Tour headliners designing a custom Civic.

The unique-looking model is a reflection of H.E.R.'s personal values. Nuance, subtlety, and "sharing your heart" are held high. This all starts with the car's exterior where a deep black matte finish washes over the model while chameleon-tinted headlamps and windows, purple brake calipers and nebula painted trim are presented as intriguing highlights.

Designers worked to customize the cabin as well, adding nebula painted accents and special LED interior lighting that changes colors based on music and sound inside the vehicle by featuring custom colors, moods, brightness levels and rotating color patterns, adjustable by a smartphone.

H.E.R. Unveils Custom ‘Honda Civic Type R’ Presented by the 2021 Honda Civic Tour www.youtube.com

"One of the things that drew me toward the Honda Civic Tour was knowing that I'd be able to design my own vehicle, and out of all Civics, I picked the pinnacle Civic Type R," said H.E.R. "Infusing my personality into all aspects of my performances, and also expressing it through my favorite products, is something that I am passionate about. So being able to create and share my custom Honda Civic Type R with my fans is just so special to me."

H.E.R.'s custom Civic Type R joins Honda vehicles designed by past Civic Tour headliners, including Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Demi Lovato, blink-182, Black Eyed Peas, One Direction, Charlie Puth and more.

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