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These photos were taken from a one day trip to Bologna, this past Friday, November 29th, 2013. I first took the train from where I am currently in Pavia, to Milan and then to Bologna via train. From there, I was fortunate enough to be the only person in the tour lead by Francesco Bini of Motorstars. Francesco has worked for Pagani in the mid-1990s when they were developing the Zonda, Ferrari soon after for some years and then had a chance to work for Lamborghini (on the development of the Murcielago). He also worked for the now non-existent Toyota F1 Team in Germany after some of his work at Lamborghini, and after finishing up at Toyota he started his own tour company, Motorstars, after some suggestions from his friends. He mainly worked on the composite materials for all of these companies and racing teams.
So, he picked me up from the Bologna Centrale train station at 9:00am on Friday, and then we were on our way to Pagani:
So first of all, it amazes me that Pagani basically operates out of two small warehouses (probably the size of two high school gyms, even smaller) and makes cars that are regularly worth more than 1 million dollars. Horacio Pagani's home is right behind the small warehouse where the cars are made and he just walks in every morning to check into work!
Horacio Pagani's story is incredible, he didn't come from a very rich family in Argentina and worked his way by making/designing mechanical items as he was a kid, you can see photos of his early designs in this album. He got involved with racing applications (the red car you see), and he caught the attention of Juan Manuel Fangio, Formula One legend and multiple World Champion. Fangio recommended him to Enzo Ferrari, and that was Pagani's big breakthrough. As a young man, he came to work in Modena, Italy, far from his home, and started his new life. He moved to Lamborghini and learned a whole lot more on composites, and then eventually left to start his own company, Modena Design, which also lead to him making the car company Pagani, which produces the Zonda and the Huarya.
Pagani is very small, and I was only permitted to take photos within the showroom, which has the Zonda Revolucion (the 2.2 Million Euro, last Zonda ever made) on display as well as the first race car he built among other historical items. Since it was early in the morning, Mr. Pagani also walked in with his dog and came up to me and shook my hand, welcoming me to his factory in the morning. This will leave an impression for the rest of my life, and my only regret is not having a photo taken with him!
I was not permitted to take photos inside of the area where they are actually building the cars. I had the opportunity to see how these cars are completely made out of carbon fiber, and got to autoclaves where the carbon fiber materials are put under high pressures and temperatures to be finished. Francesco also drove me to the new warehouse Pagani is building to increase production. There I saw three Zondas in finished or almost finished stages and a couple of Huaryas being made. Couldn't take photos here as well.
The Drive video that I watched last year that shows all the stuff I couldn't take pictures of:
I think Speedhunters has a pretty good and recent series with Pagani (http://www.speedhunters.com/tag/pagani/).
The tour of Pagani was my favorite by far!
After visiting here we made our way to Ferrari.
Second stop, Ferrari:
We got into the tour van, and drove to Maranello. And the first thing that you don't completely understand is how big Ferrari actually is. The factory is really built like a small town in many respects. We stopped at the Museo Ferrari, and that's where basically all my photos are from. The highlight of the Museo for me was the F1 display of all the championship winning cars, and of course, the F40 Competizione (as you can tell from the majority of my photos).
After visiting the Museo, I got on the Ferrari Tour Van to see the Fiorano circuit and behind the gates into the factory. We weren't allowed to take photos here as well, they even go the extra step to put these little stickers on your cell phone cameras (front and back). I decided to stick one on the bottom of my DSLR after the tour.
The Fiorano circuit is strictly used to test Ferraris and I think Schumacher has set the record on the track with the F2004 F1 car. Driving to the track you turn into a road called Gilles Villeneuve road, where there is a bust of the famous racing driver, who was one of Enzo Ferrari's favorites.
The highlights of the track for me was the house and office that Enzo Ferrari built, it was really cool to see a little house in the middle of the race track. The bus takes you into the Ferrari factory complex, which like I mentioned before is a like a small city. From the tour guide there was mentions of the benefits of working at Ferrari, she mentioned they had recently won an award for the best place to work in Europe very recently. The windtunnel on facility astounded me as well, it was almost as big as the Aeroelasticity Branch windtunnel facility at NASA Langley Research Center (worked there this past summer in the building behind it).
After this tour, Francesco and I had a light lunch near the Museo, and then I took the option to drive a Ferrari 458 Italia for about 20 minutes. It was really expensive (total 220 Euro for a 20 minute drive and video), but I figured it would be worth it since I was in Maranello driving a Ferrari and I could have a video of it to cherish for my whole life! I didn't really drive the car too hard, because I was really scared of crashing it, so I just enjoyed some light accelerations and the sounds that the car made during downshifts. I am one of those gearheads that would prefer a six speed transmission but the flappy paddle gearbox wasn't so bad! Here is the Youtube link of the drive (caution, it is a really really boring drive!).
After this drive, I went to the various Ferrari stores to buy stuff for friends and colleagues. And then Francesco took me to Lamborghini.
I was really excited about visiting Lamborghini, mainly because I really wanted to see the Miura and the Countach in person. The museum did not disappoint at all, and basically my all my photos of Lamborghini are from the Museum.
We also did a tour of the Lamborghini factory, and there was no photography here allowed as well. Also, interesting to note, the tour guide had informed us that the Gallardo had ceased production completely only two days back and behind some closed doors was the new production car to replace the Gallardo. He had seen it in person, and I asked him candidly if the name Cabrera or Deimos sounded familiar but he told us honestly he didn't not know (I got the names from early Jalopnik news articles!).
Walking through the stages of production, Volkswagen AG's production principles were definitely integrated into the process. There is a big digital countdown clock informing the employees how much time they have left to complete their given task before moving to the next stage, but the cars are still completely handmade. No robots in the factory whatsoever. You first pass through an area where you can see mechanics making the V12 and V10 engines, and then you see first the upholstery first being handmade for the interior of the car, and after you pass some bins with "Volkswagen AG" emblazoned on the sides you walk into the production process. What I got the chance to see is the Aventador production line and you see the cars at various stations with different things being done to chassis by different engineers. Here is a National Geographic video that shows you basically what I saw and more: (). What was really cool was to walk down the line and see a finished matte grey Aventador waiting for its finally finishing and Lamborghini badge on the hood.
Some Volkswagen AG board members were in town, as our Lamborghini tour guide mentioned and there were really awesome RS6 wagons were just chilling outside of the main entrance of the building. Should have taken more photos of them, I know!
Have to really thank my tour guide Francesco Bini of Motorstars, I virtually got a private tour and he took a bunch of photos of me and the cars at no extra charge. I got lucky because it's off-season right now for Francesco, but I'm so thankful he still decided it was worth it to take me! I highly recommend his service, and if you are ever in Italy visit the Motorstars website (www.motorstars.org , took tour #35) and definitely look into it.
Thank you so much for reading my post and I hope I made your post-Thanksgiving Monday a little better! My name is Nirav and I am currently working out here as a researcher on Google Foundation funds provided to me by the University of Pavia. Specifically I am working on ways to optimize the use of the Google Earth Engine (https://earthengine.google.org/#intro) to identify urban areas to map out population accurately, and leading a research collaboration between Dr. Andrew Tatem and Dr. Paolo Gamba. Right now I am applying for government jobs and Ph'D programs in Washington D.C., the dream is to work as a NASA scientist in the future.
If you would like to connect with me professionally, please connect with me on Linked-In:
I hope you enjoyed this pictures, and apologies in advance since I am not that great of a photographer! I took them with my Canon 60D with Image Stabilizer lens and didn't edit them, took them at 18M resolution and uploaded them as is!