Pagani Huayra Makes Landfall in Southern California

Horacio Pagani, the Argentine maker of exotic Italian sports cars, officially unveiled his newest creation, the $1.2 million Huayra, to a North American audience of journalists and prospective customers here Thursday evening.

Mr. Pagani, 55, who started making bicycles and balsa-wood replicas of racing cars in his youth before moving to Italy to work for Lamborghini, said he was seeking a wider clientele for his latest hypercar, a successor to Pagani Automobili’s only model to date, the Zonda.

Since entering production in 1999, only a few dozen Zondas have been built at the company’s base in Modena, Italy, at sale prices ranging from the low $300,000s to the low seven figures. But Mr. Pagani, in an interview here, said the Huayra would be built in quantities of 40 or so per year.

“We already have many orders from China, Singapore and the Middle East,” he said. “But for the first time, we will also be accepting orders from the United States.”

The Zonda was never cleared for street-legal operation in America, but the Huayra, heavily based on the final Zonda R — the most performance-oriented Zonda variant produced — achieved certification. Its Mercedes-Benz AMG-sourced 6-liter V-12 engine meets California’s LEV II emissions standards, impressive in view of its 700-horsepower output.

Mr. Pagani, who designed the Zonda and Huayra, took evident delight here in demonstrating various features of the new car, including a billet-carved ignition key in the shape of the Huayra, a retro-chic push-pull shift lever for its 7-speed automatic transmission and various styling elements of its carbon fiber body.

“We have done many things to give the Huayra a personality,” he said. “We have made it a comfortable vehicle in which to drive every day, if the owner so desires.”

The Zonda achieved acclaim, as well as a measure of market acceptance, for its scintillating performance in a number of high-profile venues, among them the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany, where an R logged a rare lap time of less than seven minutes. On “Top Gear,” the BBC program, an R bested a 1,000-horsepower Bugatti Veyron around the show’s test track.