The chances of running into someone who’s had the pleasure of buying and configuring a Koenigsegg car are fairly remote. There are 7 billion people in the world and around 140 Koenigseggs, so let’s put the raw odds at 1 in 50 million. Of course, those odds get much better if you concentrate on looking in certain places, but it’s still a long shot.
All things considered, most of us have got a better chance of being struck by lightning (1 in 13,000 if you’re in the USA) or of dying being a left-handed person using a right-handed product (1 in 4.4mil) than you have of running into a Koenigsegg owner in your day-to-day life.
Given those long odds, we hope that you find the following interview interesting.
While covering the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier in 2017, I had the chance to sit down with Pasin Lathouras, the guy who had the pleasure of ordering and configuring the Agera RS known as ‘Naraya’. Our chat focused on what it was like to fulfil a dream and buy a Koenigsegg.
Steven Wade, Koenigsegg (SW):
Let’s talk a bit about you and your background, first.
You’re a pretty young buyer for a Koenigsegg (23) so there isn’t a lot of automotive history to cover, but let’s cover it anyway. Can you remember the first car that really made you notice cars, the first car that made you into a car guy?
Pasin Lathouras (PL):It was probably the Ferrari 360 Challenge. There was a yellow one in our neighborhood. It belonged to a friend-of-a-friend to the family. I saw it one Halloween and that really was a ‘Wow’ experience.
There was nothing particularly special when I was really young. We were a normal middle-class family when I was growing up. In fact, we had a lot of things taken from us when my parents’ business went bankrupt years ago. We had to start again from nothing. The success of our family business has been relatively recent. Within my lifetime, you could say.
So I didn’t dream much when I was really young. I didn’t have circumstances that allowed a kid to dream those big dreams. But once I got a ride in that 360 Challenge around the lake near where I grew up, I was converted. It was amazing. The sound!
SW: A lot of people – later in life, after they’ve experienced some success – like to go back and buy the car that first got them excited when they were young. Do you think you might do that with the Ferrari 360 Challenge?
PL: Probably not. I’ve spent a lot of time in the 458 since then and it’s become a favourite. We do have a car experience like that in the family, though.
When my parents started their business, the only asset they had was the family car, an old Toyota Corolla. As basic as a car can be. They had to sell that car to get some capital for the business.
Around 5 years later, the business had grown and we came across our Corolla. We spotted it at a second-hand dealer. The business was doing OK, so we bought the car back again. It got used as a company car for a few years but it was getting beaten up a fair bit, so we retired it.
We’ve since had it completely restored, as if it had just left the factory, and it sits in a garage at home now. It’s a reminder to us of where we’ve come from.
SW: What was the first car that you owned? Your first sports car?
PL: I should point out first that it’s not really ‘I’. It’s ‘we’. The purchases we make, it’s primarily my father and I doing the buying, with my mother’s input as well. It’s not just me. This is a project we like to do together. We can do this because of the family business, so we do it as a family. Thankfully, my father has the same passion for beautiful works of automotive engineering as I do.
The first car we bought was back in 2008. It was a Nissan GTR. We did a lot of custom work on that car. We had a lot of fun with it, to the point where we had a few problems after we tuned the car a little too hard. It was putting out 850hp at the wheels! It ended up spending most of its time in the garage rather than on the street.
After that came the (Ferrari) 458, which got me into racing.
SW: What’s your history with racing?
PL: I starting karting when I was around 12 or so and it’s just grown from there.
I did some racing as part of the Ferrari Challenge. I came second in my first season in the Ferrari Challenge, Asia. I won it in my second season, when I was 19. I’ve done quite a bit of endurance racing since then, the highlight being winning the Pro-Am class in the Spa 24 Hours race in 2016 (4th overall).
UPDATE: Since my interview with Pasin, he was involved in a heavy crash at the 2017 24 hour race at Spa, which underlines the caution he’ll show later in this interview with reference to his Agera RS. Thankfully, he was uninjured in the crash and will race another day.
SW: Do you have further ambitions in racing?
PL: Definitely. I have the same bucket list as every endurance racer out there. Daytona, Spa, Nurburgring and Le Mans. The big 24-hour races. We’ve done Daytona once already. We were doing really well until some engine problems set us back. We ended up fourth there, but we’ll return again.
So it’s two down (Spa and Daytona), with two to go.
SW: To Koenigsegg, then. What is your first Koenigsegg memory?
PL: It was the Top Gear CCX story. The doors were fascinating. And the process for starting the engine on those older cars. The whole thing was fascinating.
That was a long time ago, of course. And I never imagined myself being able to have one, so it was all the stuff of fantasy at that time.
Things changed when I saw the Agera RS at Geneva in 2015. We were in a better position by that time and when I saw that car, I spoke to my father and said “we have to have one of these”.
Photo: GT Spirit
SW: So how did you go about expressing your interest? Who did you speak to?
PL: The first guy I met at Geneva was Andreas (Petre, Sales Director, Middle East and Asia) and he introduced me to Tommy (Wareham, from UK dealer, Supervettura). This was actually in 2014, the year before I first saw the RS. Andreas took me on to the stand at Geneva, which was very kind of him. He didn’t know me and I was very young at the time. I’d actually been declined entry to other stands at the show, so Andreas’ invitation was very welcome.
I think I spent around six hours on the stand, that day. I met all the staff on site and spent a lot of time with Andreas, looking over every detail of the cars on show.
At that time, a Koenigsegg was still a little out of our reach. But a year later, when the RS was first shown, we were in a better position to buy.
SW: Did you know, straight away, that you were going to order one?
PL: I knew that I wanted one as soon as I saw it. As I said, though, this is a family decision so I had to run my thoughts by both my father and my mother to see what they thought of the idea. This was, by far, the biggest investment that we had proposed to make into a car, so I was a little unsure as to whether they’d go for it. Thankfully, they did. And they’re very happy with it, too.
I did have to do a little bit of work to convince my father. There’s the limited nature of the car, with just 25 examples. Then there’s the performance. Those things were enough to convince him to come with me to the factory, and the rest is history.
SW: The exterior and interior specification of the car is breathtaking. Did you have this configuration in mind right from the beginning?
PL: The blue carbon finish was on my mind right from the beginning. I’d admired the Hundra from the first time I saw it, so that got me thinking about the possibility of using the gold leaf. Blue and gold, blue and yellow – they always look nice together so I figured it would be worthwhile exploring the idea.
When I first floated the idea with my father, he laughed about it. He asked if we were doing a ‘Harrods’ spec car now. When we visited the factory, though, we saw the gold leaf samples that were made for the Hundra and both he and my mother could see that the gold leaf worked really well. They were onboard with the idea after that.
Looking back on it, it all seems quite surreal now: We actually did this!
SW: As you’re talking, it sounds a little as if you approached this from the point of view of a passionate car owner, whereas your parents maybe approached it a little more from the investor point of view. Is that accurate? Or maybe not so much an ‘investment’ i.e. with an intention to sell it and make money. But perhaps a more pragmatic point of view that asks ‘is this a wise way for us to spend money?’
PL: Yeah, a little. They both went through so many ups and downs in their early business life. They both know that things can turn. My father asks a lot of questions and evaluates purchases quite closely.
With this car, though, he could see the potential. And the value. He’s been passionate about cars since he was quite young so he understands the emotive side of this car. And now that we’re able to do this together, he really enjoys it. The difference with him is that he’s able to detach from it a little easier than others, and make sound decisions about what to do.
SW: Back to the spec of the car…. You knew you wanted the blue carbon and you started thinking about the gold leaf. Did it take a long time to figure out where to put the gold leaf? How did you go about that aspect of the design?
PL: It took some time. We had three or four visits to the factory along the way and each time, we worked with Lisa (Art Director at Koenigsegg). She’s fantastic and she can translate ideas into images really quickly, so you can see what you’re talking about before you make a decision. It’s great to be able to work with people personally, too. If you do it via email, you may not be able to get your thoughts on ‘paper’ as well as what you can in person.
The other great part about visiting the factory is that you can see other cars in the making. You can see what they’re doing, get a feel for what a stripe looks like in a certain position, etc. It makes a big difference to see that on a full size car, right in front of you.
SW: How long did it take – start to finish – to figure out the look of the car?
PL: It was a continuous process, really. We made small changes right up until near the end, most of which were to do with the number of pieces finished in gold. We had pieces being anodised or plated right up to the end of the build. The harnesses, for example, were changed just days before delivery. So, in terms of a six-month build, it really was up to the last minute.
SW: I remember when Ettore was at the factory, doing the gold leaf work on your car. I took some photos of his work and sent them to you as he was doing it. How did it feel to see those details you’d specified coming to life?
PL: It made me feel like I really wanted to be there. One of the things about this car is that so much of it is completely hand made, and the gold leaf work is an example of taking that to the extreme. You have an expert craftsman there and he’s doing bespoke work that’s specific to your car. I would have loved to see it happening at the time.
The pictures were a great insight as to what was happening, but they also drew out the process a lot. I think it took two years to get this car – from placing our order to delivery. I can think of instances where time seems to fly by. But the time it took to get this car – it felt like forever. It’s because we were wanting to get our hands on it so much, that’s why it felt so long.
SW: I can remember one time that you visited… it was your first visit after the gold leaf work had been done. I’m not sure how it felt at the time but I’ll tell you how it looked. I can remember you holding some of the smaller gold leaf pieces in your hand and you looked…. emotional. It really moved you to see something you’d envisioned finally come to life. How did it feel?
PL: Yeah. I still feel it now, when I’m walking up to the car, or just holding the key. The work that our family has done to get to the position to buy one of these, and then the work you do to make it a personal vehicle, to make it just how you want it…… all of that work comes back to you. It’s more than just a car to us. It’s a marker of how far we’ve come as a family, as a company. We’re very thankful for all that’s happened to us and to come out of a situation that was not so good, and then be in this position…. we know that it’s significant.
I think that moment at the factory, when I first saw the gold pieces, was a mixture of emotion and excitement. It was everything I just described on the emotional side, mixed with “come on guys, let’s get this finished so we can drive it!”
SW: We finally completed the car and handed it over to you in late August 2016. Your parents came with you to the handover at the factory. How was that?
PL: I came into the factory and saw the car the day before, so I knew what to expect. For my parents… they hadn’t been as involved in the configuration or the build of the car, so it was a complete surprise. It was the very first time they’d seen any part of the car in person. I wanted it to be an experience for them.
Koenigsegg did a wonderful job. We got all the staff members down to the test track for the handover, which was great. Everyone was so excited. I wanted to honour the people that worked on the car, too, so having them there at delivery was very special.
My family was there and it was supposed to be the first time they saw the car in its complete form. It was a really windy day, though, and the cover blew off the car before the proper unveiling. Sometimes the best plans don’t quite work. They still loved it, though. It was a bright day and the car was absolutely shining in the sunlight. We took the roof off and drove it up and down the runway.
My father, he loved it. My Mother…. she’s not into cars as much as my father and I, but she was involved in the process from the very beginning and she really enjoyed it, too. She loved that we had so much of the family company reflected in the car, with the name being used.
SW: For those who are reading this and don’t know, explain the name ‘Naraya’ for us.
PL: ‘Naraya’ is the name of our family company. It’s the success of this company that’s allowed us to be in the position to buy this car, so it was fitting that we used that name on the car. The company’s corporate colours are blue and yellow, too, which is why we went for the blue carbon with gold trim. It’s all to honour where we came from and the fact that this is a family venture.
SW: Your car is one that’s been seen a lot this past summer. You like to use it, rather than garage it, don’t you?
PL: I use it every time I’m in London, which is where the car is stored.
SW: You enjoy the people’s reactions to it?
PL: I saw a bit of negative commentary about it when the pictures first came out. Some people think the gold is a bit too much – until they see it. Once they see the car for themselves, they see it in perspective and the vast majority of people who see it, love it.
It’s amazing the way people react to it. Koenigseggs are so rare, so people will run across roads or stand in the middle of the road just to get a picture of it. They get so excited about it. It reminds me of that first time I got to sit in that Ferrari. Those moments can be pretty special for a young guy. Those moments can set your life in motion. The carspotters that follow us around all summer, they live for this stuff and it’s great to see them smiling because what you’re sharing with them is so rare, so appreciated. It’s a very positive vibe.
SW: How do you plan on using the car in the future? Any special plans?
PL: It’ll continue to be used pretty regularly and I’ll continue to take it to a lot of shows, to let everyone enjoy it. We had plans to bring it to Monterey this year but it didn’t work out, but I would love to take it state-side and show it there, too.
SW: What about driving events? I remember when I first met you, you were keen to take it to Spa and try to break Robert’s One:1 lap record there.
PL: Yeah, I remember that, too. If Christian’s got another Koenigsegg for me to use, I’ll definitely try it (laughs). It won’t happen with this car, though. Once you get it delivered and you get a chance to drive it, enjoy it, share it…. you realise that it’s just not worth the risk. There are so many months worth of hard work that went into building it, so much work that went into designing it, etc. I just want to look after it and enjoy it now.
I know the car could do it. I’m very confident about that. But I just think about what would happen if something went wrong, the time it would take to repair, even if it’s just a small ‘off’ with only scratches on the car. The car will be used a LOT and it will be enjoyed by many – I’m keen to keep it that way.
SW: What’s next on the shopping list? Do you have another Koenigsegg in your sights?
PL: One thing about my father and I, as car people, is that when we began this journey, we settled on the idea of only getting one car from any particular brand. I really enjoyed the process with Koenigsegg, though – ordering the car, working out the specs, etc. It was very satisfying. The technological advancements in the Regera are pretty compelling, too. Maybe there will be a second Koenigsegg in the garage one day. We haven’t ordered one yet, but you never know.
We’re still relatively new to this so we’ll take our time and be choosy. We’re in a fortunate position to be able to consider cars like this, but we’re not like some other collectors out there, who can buy whatever they want, whenever they want. We are still working to be able to buy cars in this sector.
The one confirmed order that we’ve very excited about at the moment is the new Aston Martin – the Valkyrie. We have our eyes on other things, too, but nothing else confirmed.
SW: Are you interested in classic cars, as well? Or is it just the modern cars you’re looking at?
PL: Maybe. Maybe. I’d say if we were looking at older cars, it would probably only go back as far as the F50. But even then, we have to really consider things because the prices on some of these classics are going higher and higher. In many cases, you’re paying the same price as a modern hypercar, which has much better technology and performance.
I want to thank Pasin for taking the time to speak with me at Goodwood.
Pasin is obviously quite young for a Koenigsegg customer but he’s one of the most humble and gracious young men you’ll ever meet. He understands his family’s good fortune and he has a great appreciation for his roots, which is why he’s so happy to share his car with the world.
‘Naraya’ is a piece of automotive art and we look forward to seeing a lot more of it in 2018 and beyond.