The worlds of fashion and automotive have always been destined to collide. Both are about that ultimate combination of form and function, where the elements of design — color, silhouette, materials, and texture — come into critical play to appeal to our psyches … and our egos.
Men, particularly, may find that the right car is a more fitting expression of their personal style than, say, the right suit, or the perfect wash on a pair of jeans. So, while the peak expression of sartorial style might be a Savile Row bespoke suit, what could be a more personal expression — and public declaration — of one’s station in life than a custom made automobile?
Twenty years ago Horacio Pagani left a lucrative design career at Lamborghini to start his own company. Since then, Pagani Automobili has established a reputation for manufacturing some of the finest automobiles on the planet. In twenty years the maker has created around 300 cars for around 200 customers. Underachiever, you say? At more than two-million bucks a pop, the brand isn’t exactly worried about corporate performance. And for owners, there can even be a return on the investment: One Pagani owner sold his car back to the company when it opened the Horacio Pagani Museum in 2017 for about $4 million.
This spring, Piloti Inc., a Canadian maker of high-performance footwear for driving, collaborated with Pagani to create The Roadster Driving Boot. To celebrate the collaboration, I was given the opportunity go for a ride (yeah..a ride: they weren’t trusting me behind the wheel of one of these priceless gems) with Christopher Pagani, Horacio’s son, and head of North American operations for the brand.
While I’m not a motorhead, I do appreciate cars from a design perspective, and on this trip was given quite an eyeful. From the antenna-like side-view mirrors to the iconic four-pipe exhaust system, Pagani machines are curvaceous and uniquely outfitted. The cars are a crash course in materials science, crafted from custom-molded carbon fiber, sumptuous leather detailing on the interior. While we drove around the Intracoastal, Christopher pointed out the car’s active aerodynamics: flaps on the car that constantly adjust to conditions, cornering and, of course, the skill of the driver. They move much like the flaps on an airplane’s wings.
And who owns these beauties? The usual suspects. Entrepreneurs. Investors. Old money. New money. Apple and Google tech types. A customer in Hong Kong bought one for each of his four children as each of them learned to drive. Some take their cars to racetracks. For some, it’s their everyday drive. Others are collectors and treat them like works of art. One owner utilizes the car as the wall between his living room and bedroom. A Newport Beach client is also a Hermes fan (check out #paganihermes on Instagram), so the interior is specially decked out in the luxury brand’s signature leather.
“Our customers usually want to be very involved in the process,” said Christopher. “They’ll come to Italy to meet my father and the design team. The process of owning a Pagani includes building the car almost more than driving it. We’ve even had some customers rent houses in Modena so they can be present throughout the manufacturing operation.”
Christopher explained how his father developed the carbon fiber used in the car and noted that he’d seen the advantages of the material 25 years ago – before it became as commonly used as it is today. He explained several other technical components that the brand instituted, but to be honest, right about there my notes got pretty sloppy as we raced around town. Let’s just say it’s not easy to hold a pen in a properly piloted Pagani, even on city streets.
After stopping on a Miami Beach promontory for a few photos (where the car was swarmed with onlookers for a closer look), I returned to the dealership with Prestige Imports owner Brett David. Once we hit some open highway, David reached over to roll down the passenger side window: “I want you to able to hear the sound this engine makes when I hit the accelerator.” Milliseconds later, while being crushed into the passenger seat by G-forces, I could barely hear the engine over my own voice screaming expletives.
“For our customers, purchasing a Pagani is like buying a piece of art by a master artist still alive today,” says David. “It’s the equivalent of meeting Enzo Ferrari or Ferruccio Lamborghini.”
David has his own unique Pagani connection. He inherited the dealership when his father, Irv David, passed away at a young age. Years later he went to Italy to buy his own Pagani, with the ulterior motive of convincing Horacio to allow him to have the Pagani dealership for South Florida He was assured that the dealership was already promised to someone…only for the two to discover that it had already been promised to David’s father, but Horacio hadn’t heard the news of his passing, and didn’t know Brett was Irv’s son. With that, he tossed out David’s car’s plans and retrieved those of a special model he’d been working on with Irv. Those who drive the car—called the Vulcan—swear that it has a soul of its own.
Piloti was originally founded in 1999 by a footwear designer who was also a motorsports enthusiast. The shoes are a favorite of champion Canadian race car driver Ron Fellows, who credits their build and technology by extending his driving career.
The Roadster Driving Boot is named for Pagani’s most recent introduction, the Huayra Roadster, the first model with a removable roof. Like any feat of high-performance engineering, the Pagani x Piloti collaboration took some time; nearly two years in development. Like Pagani’s vehicles, the Piloti boots are handcrafted in Italy. In mirroring the look and feel of the Roadster, the luxury driving boot boasts a pliable carbon fiber panel for weight reduction and strength. Malleable four-way flex construction is designed to move in tandem with the driver’s foot. Additional features include CNC (computer numerical control) laser-etched anodized aluminum hardware, Pagani’s iconic four-pipe exhaust emblem, low-profile cushioning in the forefoot for optimal pedal feel, and Piloti’s patented Roll Control 2.0™ heel technology to protect and cushion the heel bone. Even the box is special, with a top that slides seamlessly apart from the interior sections, mimicking a gull-wing door.
The Roadster Driving Boot is available online and retails for $849. Only 250 pairs will be available worldwide, so accelerate now.
For those of us who might otherwise appreciate a finely-tuned driving shoe, sneakers start at $179, driving mocs at $195, and boots around $400 to $500. On the other hand, if you’re thinking that a $900 boot is chump change for the driver who can drop more than a million dollars on a custom-made sports car, don’t worry…Piloti also has a special custom shoe program available exclusively to Pagani owners. We can only imagine the cost of those…
For more in the way of extremely expensive cars, check out the six fastest electric cars in the world.