Everyone has heard of Ferrari and Lamborghini, poster cars for many since the middle of the previous century that have taken pride of place in garages of those fortunate enough to own them.

Then there are the other famous Italian sports car manufacturers. Over the years there have been De Tomaso, Bugatti and Maserati, but one not everyone will have heard of is Pagani. Those who really appreciate performance and bespoke engineering should, however, definitely know the name.

It is a name that has heritage too. It was started by Horacio Pagani, who designed the legendary Lamborghini LM002 bakkie SUV. He is passionate about making the best of the best and it does not take long looking at the latest Pagani Huayra to see it.

We spoke to Mansour Al Yasin, area manager for the Middle East and Africa for Pagani Automobile, who is in the country to chaperone BT1, the pre-production version of the Huayra that has not only toured the world but also appeared in the movie Transformers.

The Italian marque is being distributed in SA by Daytona Group, the company that is also home to Aston Martin, McLaren and Rolls-Royce. Al Yasin is showing the car to potential customers and explaining Pagani’s philosophy. "Understanding the customer is what we do best, I believe," he says.

The Pagani customer, he says, is someone who is looking for the ultimate, something highly collectible, and who truly sees cars as art.

It is this cars-as-art aspect that surpasses even the performance of the limited number of models that emerge from the Pagani factory.

"We are not the fastest," he says. "We are not the most complicated. We want our cars to be around in 20 years."

Pagani himself sees his cars as the combination of science and art. The design is supposed to be timeless, without lines that "die like fashion", says Al Yasin.

Pagani even designed the carbon fibre weave used in each car himself.

Each model is produced in limited numbers, with only 100 coupe models and 100 roadster versions set to be manufactured. Configuration of each one can take up to a year, with customers first travelling to the factory to spec their car after using an initial configurator. It takes 150 days to build.

Beneath the cover sits an engine from AMG. Picture: MARK SMYTH
Beneath the cover sits an engine from AMG. Picture: MARK SMYTH

It is the attention to detail that impresses. Steel bolts were originally used in the Huayra, but after these showed signs of wear, the company replaced them with titanium bolts, each with the Pagani name embossed into them. Every car already sold had its bolts replaced, such is Pagani’s passion for his brand’s reputation.

It is a reputation designed to last too, because the company keeps the original build details for every car. You will be able to buy a pre-owned Pagani and have the factory rebuild it to the same specification as it left the factory. The company can even do physical upgrades to cars even after they have been built, something only Pagani can do, according to Al Yasin.

Design and craftsmanship is most evident in the engineering. The gear stick is a naked work of art, allowing you to see the linkages. The suspension, too, is mind-blowing, and then there is the instrument cluster, handmade by a watchmaker in Geneva. Seriously, you have to see it to appreciate it.

Only one has been allocated to SA annually at an average about €2.5m each. So if you are looking for the ultimate collector’s car, you had better be quick, and very wealthy.