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Student-Made Zonda Tribute Is Prettier Than Anything Pagani’s Done in 13 Years

Design students sculpted a modern Zonda for the model’s 25th anniversary, and Pagani ought to take notes.

byNico DeMattia|
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This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Zonda, the vehicle that instantly thrust Pagani into supercar superstardom. Yet, the Italian brand arguably failed to capture enthusiasts' imaginations in quite the same way with its two follow-ups, the Huayra and Utopia. Thankfully, students from the Instituto Europeo di Design (IED) created a gorgeous homage to the Zonda, and it's better looking than anything Pagani's crafted since.

Unfortunately the Alisea, as it's called, is just a static design concept and not a fully functioning car because good lord, is it gorgeous. The purpose of the project was to honor the Zonda while also creating a fresh, modern Pagani design. While the Alisea was developed in cooperation with Pagani, its unclear if any elements of it will make their way to production cars in the future. Should that happen, we'd probably be waiting a good while anyway, as Pagani usually takes a solid decade to replace its models. It's still building new Huayras, after all.

What's surprising is just how much prettier the Alisea is than any Pagani in recent memory. While the Huayra and Utopia are striking to behold, neither managed to walk that line between grace and flamboyance as deftly as the Zonda. The Alisea comes close, though. It's far more understated than either of the Zonda's successors, with smoother bodywork and fewer ornate details, and that might ruffle the feathers of some of the automaker's faithful fans. Pagani has visually distinguished itself over the years with increasingly extreme, over-the-top designs, and the Alisea certainly bucks that trend. But don't mistake it for being boring. The Zonda may have been simple, but it wasn't boring.

Also like the Zonda, the Alisea is defined by an aggressively cab-forward design with front wheel arches like chiseled cheek bones, as well as insectoid, pillar-mounted side mirrors. It might be elegant, but it's still a hypercar. My favorite part might be the back, though, thanks to the stunning 3D taillights and Pagani's signature quad-exhaust design breaking up the rear wing. Not only does it look very much like a modern Zonda, but I also get hints of Ford GT40 from the shape as well.

For must of us 99-percenters, bitching about Pagani's recent designs not being beautiful enough is like complaining about Patek Phillipe's latest watch—we can't have it anyway. But the Zonda was and still is an almost universally loved car, especially among millennials who grew up lusting after it in Gran Turismo 3. It's wonderful that the Alisea has evoked so many of the things that made its inspiration an icon, and hopefully it'll influence Pagani's efforts for years to come.

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