How I learnt a valuable lesson about Lamborghini V12s in 2008
When I lost my job in 2008, during the catastrophic recession, I was one of many leaving as an expat ready to pack up and go back to my country, Italy. It was tough. I wanted to stay in the UAE hence I had to find something that allowed me
For eight exhausting days, I knocked at doors, booked meetings, interviews, test drives and one day, near Christmas, I found myself invited at a dinner, in a cozy farmhouse, near Sant Agata Bolognese. I had just left Mr Fabio Lamborghini private museum and I was still inebriated by what I saw, smelled and touched in that collection rooms. The farmhouse dining room was populated by some older gentlemen, most of them very very special. The designer of the Ferrari GTO 1963 was sitting in a corner unnoticed, Mr. Gianni Sighinolfi, project manager of the Bugatti EB110 was sitting right beside me. I was introduced as a journalist by Fabio, and I sat in front of a guy called Signor Maurizio Reggiani. We ate a lot and we drank even more talking about cars, history, races. We were… drunk, pretty soon and we got even more passionate about our stories.
Signor Reggiani started talking about his new project at Lamborghini, the Aventador, the replacement of the already seven years old Murcielago. Such was his passion for the project that Lamborghini’s gregarious technical boss soon had everyone at the dinner table spellbound at the prospect of, what he considered would, the ultimate raging bull. He said, “of course it will have a V12 engine, the most powerful naturally aspirated V12 in Lambo history”.
Now, for some reason, it was at this precise moment that the more traditional, manual gearbox non-turbo engine-loving left half of my brain found itself completely overwhelmed and unable to resist the more analytical, engineering-focused hemisphere on the right-hand side, the one that ruefully considers pollution, weight, torque delivery, and driveability. And so, as the fourth empty bottle of the local wine was being removed from the table, I asked why Signor Reggiani had not opted for a turbocharged V8 instead, given that it would be lighter, torquier, more efficient, cheaper to run, and more modern. A perfectly reasonable question for a technical man of genius such as himself, right?
Silence fell across the table for a few seconds, the memory of which still keeps me awake some nights, before Lamborghini’s chief technical officer exploded in response to my question. “How dare you! How can you replace the sound and the feel of a V12!? Who is this man?”
It was like entering San Paul Cathedral dressed like Marylin Manson with an upside down cross and quite how I avoided being thrown through the farmhouse’s alcove window onto the neighbouring terrace remains a mystery to this day. Fortunately, a bottle of the region’s finest wine and only a small hammering to my bank account meant the party ended very amicably.
Despite the awkwardness, this is an experience I look back on with great fondness, particular last week when I had the pleasure of spending four days in an Aventador S, just over 10 years on from my unforgettable conversation with the man who created it.
I couldn’t stop driving it and the more I did the more I was transfixed. That V12 sound still feeds my soul, the off-the-gas ranting never failed to give me goosebumps, and the 740 bhp delivered by that monster was more ferocious than almost anything else I’ve driven. And via an old style single clutch system, no less.
The modern Turbo engines are surely better in everything in comparison to classic V12 configurations. They make sense and they will be the future, in most of cases sadly coupled with Hybrid systems. All the new modern Turbo engines I have tested recently feel the same. They are all good, truly amazing in some cases but once you switch the engine off, it feels like you have just finished watching the evening news. No emotions. Question for you: would you date Cindy Crawford in her 40s today or a rampant young top model?
I have learnt my lesson, thank you Signor Reggiani. I’ll take Cindy for a spin.