Franchise for supercar changes hands just as it launches Huayra model
Pagani moves on The Huayra, which arrived in Singapore yesterday, is expected to retail from $3.6 million -- PHOTO: PAGANI AUTOMOBILI

Horacio Pagani, the founder of the superlative marque that bears his family name, is one who believes you do not have to be large to be big.

In an interview with Life!, he says Pagani Automobili has been profitable since 1999 despite being one of the smallest car-makers in the world, although he will not reveal how profitable.

'We are a small factory, we design all the parts of the car and we produce about 210 different composite pieces,' he says. Pagani engines are supplied by Mercedes-Benz.

'We work in research and development and design for other companies,' Mr Pagani adds.

In the last three years, he says, Pagani sold 45 cars, averaging €1.2 million (S$2 million) apiece. It has received 90 orders for the Huayra, which is relatively affordable - for a Pagani - at €1 million.

A unit of the Huayra arrived here yesterday and the car is expected to have a sizeable price tag of around $3.6 million. No one here has placed an order for one yet, but there have been 'a few expressions of interest'.

'We do not care about the big numbers,' says the Argentinian, who is in town to sign the franchise agreement with EuroSports Auto, the Lamborghini agent which takes over from previous Pagani agent Auto Kultur.

'For us, it is important to maintain the exclusivity that characterises our brand, and which has allowed Pagani to keep up over time the value of its cars.'

Paganis are made in a plant near the famous Modena race circuit in Italy. The plant has only about 50 workers.

In Singapore, each Pagani costs more than $3 million (or three times the average cost of a Lamborghini), which explains why there are only two here: a Zonda F and and a Zonda Cinque.

It may also explain why previous franchisee Auto Kultur is relinquishing it after nine years.

EuroSports' Mr Goh is a bit more bullish. 'The market is very different now,' he says. 'Look at the number of Rolls-Royces, Lamborghinis and Ferraris on the road. It's unheard of.'

He reckons he would be able to sell 'one to three' Paganis a year. He admits that would not be commercially viable if a company had only the Pagani franchise. 'It will share a lot of facilities and staff from our other operations,' he explains.

The new Pagani showroom will be a section of the Teban Crescent facility which houses Lamborghini and Lotus. Mr Goh says it will be up and running in a few months' time.

It is banking on the latest model, the Huayra, a 6.0-litre V12 gull-winged car said to be capable of speeds of more than 380kmh.

'The car is for people who want something different, who want something that is not already becoming common on the road,' Mr Goh adds.

Meanwhile, he is not stopping at Pagani. 'We're definitely looking for more boutique brands,' Mr Goh says.

The entrepreneur, who once ran a used car firm, now holds the distribution rights to high-performance marques such as Lamborghini and Lotus. He also has the Alfa Romeo agency.