This year marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of the Pagani Zonda. Horacio Pagani began work on the Zonda in 1991 after leaving Lamborghini, and even then, he had a pretty clear idea of what he wanted his supercar to be. One idea didn't leave the drawing board, though: active aerodynamics.
At the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show, Pagani showed us various early sketches of the car that would become the Zonda, including one design that featured twin movable wings, detailed here.
When I asked why the production Zonda never got this active aero feature, Pagani joked that he had an American investor that fell through. Active aero was a hot new technology on performance cars in the early '90s when the Zonda was being developed. The 1986 Lancia Thema 8.32 was the first production car with a deployable spoiler; the 964-generation Porsche 911 got one in 1989. The VW Corrado, the R31-generation Nissan Skyline, the Mitsubishi 3000 GT and the McLaren F1 (among others) all sported motorized spoilers, though none were quite as large as what was envisioned for the Zonda. Pagani finally got his wish with the Huayra in 2011, which has movable ailerons at the front and rear to control the aero balance of the car.
For the Geneva show this year, Pagani restored his original show car, Zonda C12 #001, to like-new condition. It was stunning. Even at a show that overflowed with new supercars from Koenigsegg, Pininfarina, and Aston Martin, the silver Zonda stood out.
Pagani's active-aero sketches date to 1991. His supercar's design was finalized in 1993. It took six years to become a reality, funded by Pagani's Modena Design, which did carbon-fiber work for other automakers. Once it arrived at Geneva in 1999, though, Pagani's future was sealed. The car was an immediate hit, and quickly became a modern supercar icon.
It's easy to see why—with or without active aero.