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Pagani Zonda C12



Year: 2000
Class: Exotic Sports Car
Type: 2-door coupe

Country: Italy``````````````````````````````````````````````Host: GT3 & GT4

Price: $275,010 (GT3), $388,720 (GT4)

Construction: carbon fiber, aluminum

Length: 171.1" // Width: 76.1" // Height: 45.3"
Wheelbase: 107.5"
Overhang: 2 feet, 6 inches
Track: 65.9" [F] 65.4" [R]
Ground Clearance: 2.80"
Weight: 2,755 pounds

Steering: power-assisted rack & pinion
Skidpad: 0.93 g
Layout: mid-engine/rear-drive
Tires: 255/40X18 [F] 345/35X18 [R]
Suspension: dual-wishbones, coils, shox, anti-sway bars
Brakes: hydraulic-assisted vented discs

Engine: 6.0 liter SOHC V12
Aspiration: natural
Fuel System: injection
Valves / Cyl: 3?
Bore x Stroke: 3.50 x 3.16"
Compression: ?
Starting BHP: 388 @ 5,200 rpm
Start Torque: 419.44 @ 3,800 rpm
Credits per HP: $708.79 (GT3), $1,001.86 (GT4)
Pounds per HP: 7.10
Lbs. per Torque: 6.56
HP per Liter: 64.8
Idle Speed: 750 // Redline: 6,000 // RPM Limit: 6,300

Transmission: 6-speed manual
Differential: no info found

*all track testing currently for the C12 of GT4

0-60 mph: 4.300 seconds
0-100 mph: 9.266 seconds
0-150 mph: 21.500 seconds
1/4 Mile: 12.788 @ 118 mph
1 Kilom: 22.568 @ 151 mph
Test Track Lap: 2:09.102

100-zero mph: 3.817 seconds
Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 1,900

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 36 mph
2nd: 62 mph
3rd: 87 mph
4th: 118 mph
5th: 151 mph
6th: 180.81 @ 6,000 rpm

----------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY----------------

splurge. –verb (used without object)

1. to indulge oneself in some luxury or pleasure, esp. a costly one: They splurged on a trip to Europe. 

2. to show off.

To splurge. The word "splurge" was invented in America sometime during the early 1800s. This doesn't surprise me, although I thought (for whatever reason) that this would have been a word which surfaced during more modern times, like perhaps the 1970s. It just has a '70s sound to it, does it not? Anyways, splurge can be used either as a verb or a noun, and is a cross between the words "splash" and "urge". Which makes me wonder what the hell the inventor of this word was doing the moment he (gotta be a "he") first said it. :0

But there's a deeper meaning to this word, which can't be found from
www.Dictionary.com. To splurge often means to spend extravagantly, true; but what's missing from the dictionary's description is this purchase is usually done in a manner of which the buyer was not planning on. In other words, when one splurges, he or she is typically making some sort of purchase on an item or service, but perhaps an hour ago this item or service hadn't even crossed the buyer's mind. It's an "impluse buy". I splurged a year ago when I got my PS3, for instance. An hour before buying it, I was simply bored. What to do? Let's see if there's any games worth buying for the next-gen console? Oh, there goes $450....

The customer gives him or herself the go-ahead, makes the move to spend money, but knows inside his or her brain that this item or service could be a bad idea in the long run. It's a heart or a gut-decision, rather than a head-decision. See? People splurge, then the bill comes later, and then they suddenly wish they hadn't gone for that shopping spree, massage, vacation, seven-course meal at the French restaurant, or whatever. Their original intention, you see, was to provide a treat to something which felt good at the time. I think that's why I initially thought this word came from the American '70s, it seems the entire American civilization of the '70s was doing whatever felt good "at the time"....those people being the ME generation and all that. :-/

And I admit....I was feeling pretty good at the time. My virtual driver (a ghetto rap star named 2 Short), had just completed the GT4 Hard-level Special Condition races. With just over 2.2 million credits in the bank, and the All Japan GT Championship being the only Japanese set of races this driver hadn't yet completed, I saw no reason not to splurge. Why not? 2 Short already has a vast array of cars (Z-cars, 3000GTs, M3s, etc), but what else is there to try?

 And the answer? This silver-grey ghostly-looking thing, introduced to us in GT3, which "only" cost $388,720. Why the hell not.

This is pretty close to the real-life price, by the way, although figures vary quite alot. I've seen Zonda C12s quoted as selling   anywhere from $280,000 to $400,000 when they were brand-new, although these figures were found after cruising the 'net, so they may not be super-reliable. Anyways, check this out: GT3's price is over $100,000 less than GT4's. Sheesh!

Inflation? Perhaps. Let's assume the GT4 price. With this kind of money, one could start thirty-eight Gran Turismo careers from scratch! One could buy thirty-eight cheapie cars, basically, and still have money to spare on lightly tuning most of them! It's almost ridiculous...quite a "splurge" for any of us!

The Pagani Zonda C12 is one of those super-rare vehicles that seems untouchable (and unseeable as well) to most earthlings. Forget the cost, chances are most of us will never get a chance to even locate or touch a Zonda! I've seen several Lamborghinis in real-life, for instance. I saw a Maserati Quattroporte today filling up at a gas station. But the Pagani Zonda C12 is a vehicle I'll probably never see! Not that I feel left out...most of us will certainly never get a chance to see one in real-life!

Why is this? Check it out...just FIVE examples of the original C12 with a 6.0 liter engine were ever built. Overall, the C12 line included many variants (several of which are found in GT3 and GT4), yet Pagani can never be accused of ever knowing what the words "mass production" mean. There's a bit of surprising history on this car, despite the fact that Pagani has only been making automobiles since 1999.

Automotive designer Horacio Pagani seems to have started his quest some time in the early 1990s. Pagani's debut car (the Zonda) was originally going to be known as the Pagani Fangio, named after Formula 1 driver Juan Manual Fangio; but after Manuel's death in 1995, Horacio (or one of his cohorts) decided to do the respectable thing, changing the car's name from Fangio to Zonda. "Zonda" is not a subtle retake on "Honda" by the way. The word Zonda is some sort of annual wind which blows over parts of Argentina (where Fangio was from). Something like that.

There was a lot of preparation given towards the design of the Zonda C12, which didn't make it to the Geneva Car Show 'til 1999. Bodywork is typical of many other modern sports cars; lots of aerodynamic capability, lightweight materials, and an appeasing, somewhat unusual look. This car features an odd "cabin-forward" design, which created a bit of controversy as the Zonda debuted, mostly because many thought it wouldn't be safe. But according to what I've read, the Zonda is supposed to be safe in crash tests, not that this matters in any of our games so far.

Mentioned aerodynamics before. Speaking of aerodynamics, it's said the Pagani generates up to 1,102 pounds of downforce at its top speed of 186 mph! Does this come thru in our games? Or is the Zonda another Saleen S7, which is supposed to feature high-speed stability, yet mostly understeers instead. I promise to find out.

Some bitching starts early, unfortunately. Pagani Zondas are among those which "cannot have a wing equipped" from GT Auto in GT4. Which means it could immediately get excluded from a huge number of races. Yet if we use a Zonda  among ordinary sports cars, it'll become a cheat machine. So where is a competitive driver supposed to race this car without blowing away others, or being blown away?

The Pagani Zonda LM race car is supposed to be PD's answer here. It's a full-racing version of the Zonda, but unfortunately is not found in real-life. So it seems the Zonda C12 is just about useless, except while racing against us as a sim.

...or am I just making a vast assumption?


----------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN---------------

There's that purr! Like twelve hungry kittens waiting for their chance to get fed...only they never get tired of eating! Only when the ignition is turned off do they finally rest.

Anyone stretching their Amateur career to the Professional level in GT3 or GT4 has no-doubt heard a Zonda. Sound familiar at all? Mercedes-Benz got the contract to produce V12 engines of various sizes for the Zonda C12 line-up; hence, this engine's note is also found in a few Benzes in our games.

Driven stock, there's so much power being put down off-the-line, and oddly, those rear tires can't handle it! This monster immediately shreds them in 1st gear. Quite a shocker, to be honest. As a mid-engine car, I didn't expect this, but it's really a gearing issue. First gear is extremely short, redlining at a econocarish 36 mph. So that's an issue. Be careful with that throttle off-the-line. 2nd gear can be used safely, so be like Nancy Reagan, and "just say no" to 1st.

Acceleration. The real-life C12 with a 6.0 liter V12 is quoted at 3.7 seconds, when going from zero to 60 mph. Hmm. I could get nowhere near this during my tests...not while using 1st gear, anyways. A 2nd-gear launch can make 3.7 seconds on medium sport tires (making me wonder if real-life Zonda testers also opted for 2nd), if the tach needle is carefully landed. Moral of the story: seems this is not always a user-friendly automobile.

Italy has always been obsessed with power when it comes to supercars. It's rare to find an Italian exotic from the last 30 years with less than 300 horsepower, for instance, and the Zonda C12 is no exception. Little girls all over the world play with toy horses. Well we get to play with 388 of 'em. ;-) The engine is naturally-aspirated, and produces 420 foot-pounds, totally stock. No wonder those tires were turning into vapor a few minutes ago!

Good power curve. Peak torque lies at 3,800 rpms, and we can often rely on this area of the tachometer out of slower corners. In many cases, 2nd and 3rd gear can be mixed. In other words, corners which can be left behind in 2nd can often be dismissed in 3rd as well. Lots of torque (and smooth torque at that; this engine often has a buttery-smooth delivery while it's low-powered). 

Peak power lies at 5,200, with a 6,000 rpm redline, which is good because this is plenty of room to work with. What's interesting is peak torque and peak power from the 6.0 liter V12 are delivered nearly from the same rpms as a Viper GTS's V10, interestingly. Compare 3,700 and 5,200 for the Viper GTS engine to the Pagani's 3,800 and 5,200. There are some similarities between both engines: both are torquey and smooth, and both can benefit from early gearshifts. I rarely find myself redlining either engine. The main difference between the Dodge V10 and the Pagani's V12 are its sounds.

But one more similarity can be drawn. Lotso power can be had from the parts shop. To make sure Pagani lets us know it's not some poseur, all three NA tuning kits are ready for sale. At the most, 858 BHP with 857.17 foot-pounds can be had in GT4, which is simply retarded.

To get all this power to pavement, Pagani offers just one transmission in real-life: a 6-speed manual. The entire gearbox is set rather close, and feels balanced in every gear except first. 6th takes us stratospherically up to 180.91 mph stock, which is just 6 mph less than the real-life car. Translation: full-racing gears aren't always needed, unless you (insanely) are playing with those Stage 2 and 3 NA kits. Wheelspin starts to demand alot of energy at this point; and it's sometimes simply best to modify gears so this doesn't happen.

So all of this is good news, eh? We can't drive a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, or a Maserati in Gran Turismos 1, 2, 3, or 4, but we can drive a Pagani Zonda C12. Would any of us have ever heard of the Pagani Zonda C12 if it weren't for Gran Turismo? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing's for sure, it lives up to the standards of super-Italian life, and does a good job at playing "substitute" for all the Italians missing from our games.

----------------CHASSIS / HANDLING-------------------

I'll be honest. Things were looking grim at first. Like I said at the beginning of this article, this car was one of my impulse buys. I had the money. I bought it (with zero research) so I could tackle the All Japan GT Championship, which oddly accepts cars that aren't Japanese. Eventually, I started tuning.


But I didn't restart the game. What I did was continue buying parts for my brand new silver bullet, and then entered the AJGT anyways, just to see if I was wrong...just to see if this car could do it without a GT Wing kit.

And we have liftoff, Houston! Turns out, my splurge is actually too good. It eventually started blowing away the JGTC racing cars in later events, even with minimal power, and I had to cancel the race series. The Zonda may have some issues so far as handling goes, but overall it's an impulse buy (a splurge...if you will....) that has had some payback! :D But let's talk about those issues first. Yes, there are some.

The real-life Zonda is equipped with Michelin Pilot tires, but that's about all the info I could find on them. What kind of Pilots are they? That's the question. It's an important question, because the answer will give us some clue as to how we're supposed to start this car "while stock" in our game. Are they Sport Cup Pilots (as found on various other exotic cars), or are they all-weather Pilots (basically radials for all-season driving). I'm assuming the real-life car has the Sport Cups attached. Driving the Zonda in GT4 with N3 tires (radials) is a sad experience, as the car will do nothing but understeer under stock power. Kinda like the Saleen S7, which also understeers. Sport tires open the doors further, but the Zonda still understeers into corners if braking is not firm enough. Mid-corner, it still understeers lightly under power. Only with racing slicks does the Zonda C12 start to behave more neutrally, hence my domination at the AJGT.

During the All Japan GT, surprisingly the Zonda C12 kept up with the full-blown JGTCs, even without the GT Wing kit! Yes!! This is how it's supposed to be. Granted, I was using medium racing tires for these races, but it's obvious Horacio Zonda's intended goal (lots of downforce) is definitely replicated in our games. The Zonda has fantastic brakes when stock, as the 100 to zero mph test up above (3.817 seconds) portrayed. During the AJGT, up against real race cars, these brakes finally felt below average. So with careful brake balancer settings + the racing brake hardware, it's possible to get the Zonda slowing down comparably to those "real" race cars, but entry-turn understeer can show up if you're not careful.

Anywhere over 800 horsepower, the Zonda finally starts getting major wheelspin issues, especially when travelling over bumps. But the rest of the time, the rear is only helpful...only assists us as much as possible.

Let's have a few Pros & Cons.


1). Lots of power to start, and the three NA upgrades don't disappoint. Over 850 horsepower available to the brave.

2). Handsome design. Some modern Italian cars suffer from excessive Dali-ism. Not the Zonda.

3). Also, a bit of an unusual design. Check out that quad-exhaust pipe, for instance, sticking out the middle of the car's back! The cabin-forward placement is also progressive...giving the Pagani its own look away from Ferrari, Porsche, and other exotics. Looks kinda like a spaceship.

4). PD did replicate this car's real-life downforce-generating abilities to some extent. Possible to race the Zonda against real GT race cars for this reason.

5). 6-speed gearbox stock, gets us to 180+ mph with lightning acceleration. One needs nearly full power to finally max-out the RPM limiter in 6th gear (which happens to put us over 200 mph).

6). That Mercedes-Benz feline purr.

7). Spiffy handling at low, mid, and high speed, especially at mirror-smooth tracks. Aftermarket suspension and limited-slip not needed for awhile. All the lovely traits found in other sports cars (ability to steer from the rear, trail-braking, lift-off oversteer) are found in the Zonda C12.

8). Supercar-acceptable braking ability. It's definately part of "The Club".

9). Nice to drive something which was supposed to originally be named after a world-famous F1 driver.


1). Ooof. That price.

2). Only comes in silver-grey.

3). Lowered stock chassis balks and jumps over rumble strips, bumps, and humps. Ruins an otherwise precisely-fine driving experience at times. Gives the C12 a flimsy feel.

4). 1st gear is just about useless.

5). Wing kit can't be bought. Yes, this car has acceptable downforce for FIA-level racing, but it would still be nice to modify its aerodynamics.

6). Understeer predominates over this car's more useful traits at times.

7). Touchy steering. Nervous car overall.

8). Prone to high-speed jacknifes under braking if a little too much steering input is used.

9). Is the Pagani Zonda just a stand-in for all those "other" supercars missing from Gran Turismo? Some would say so....

Published: December 18, 2009