Where did you see your first Lamborghini? My memory is hazy, but my first exposure to the brand must have come from either an old, dog-eared copy of Popular Mechanics or one of those ubiquitous Alpine car audio posters. I remember being stuck by the V-12 (!) engine and the rather, um, unique lines of the Countach. The enormous wing on the rear deck and vertical doors further fueled the mystique. Something this exotic just had to be the finest automobile on earth.
Obviously, I was mistaken. What I didn’t realize at the time was that unlike most of their competitors, Lamborghini had an anti-racing corporate culture during the Countach years. Their stated focus was to build the finest road cars, not thinly veiled racecars. That’s just wrong, and I think their cars suffered for it. The phrase “all show, no go” springs to mind, though I admit this really isn’t an apt description for Lamborghini. I just think a car that talks the talk should have the racing pedigree to back it up. But that’s just me.
Here is what I have deemed the six most important Lamborghinis to roll out of Sant’Agata Bolognese. Tell us which cars make YOUR list and why in the comments below.
6. 1950 L33 Tractor
Lamborghini Trattori S.p.A. was founded in 1948, when Ferruccio Lamborghini began converting former military vehicles into tractors. In 1950, Lamborghini built his first tractor from scratch, though a Morris engine powered it. This tractor is important not only because it was the beginning of the legendary manufacturing company, but also because of the clutch, which Ferruccio soon found was the same used in his Ferrari. The rest, as they say…
5. 1987 Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole
Introduced in 1974 as the radical replacement for the lithe and much-loved Miura, the Countach is perhaps the quintessential Italian supercar of the 1970s and 80s. Outrageous to the core, the Countach saw a succession of increasingly powerful powerplants through its 16-model year production life, all of them V-12s. By 1986, the engine’s displacement had increased to 5.2 liters, which bumped power to 455 hp at 7000rpm. Though just 2,042 Countachs were built over the car’s model life, it is commonly known as the “most photographed car in the world.”
4. 1999 Diablo GT
The introduction of the Lamborghini Diablo had the automotive world abuzz in early 1990. The Diablo represented a significant leap forward aesthetically and technologically for the Bolognese firm. The fuel-injected, dual overhead cam V-12 of the GT displaced 6.0 liters and churned out 575 horsepower to push around the lightened 3,200 pound chassis. The body design evolved from the Countach, with many notable improvements. While the doors still opened up and forward, comparatively large, fully functional power windows were integrated, giving the rather sparsely-appointed interior a more spacious feel and visibility was much improved over the Countach.
3. 2012 Aventador PL700-4
The replacement for the Murcielago, the Aventador brings a much-needed design consolidation to Lamborghini’s flagship offering. Lamborghini’s newest V-12 produces 690 horsepower, which is enough to slingshot the portly 3,470 pound Aventador to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 350 km/h. I can actually appreciate this car’s stealth fighter influence and extensive carbon fiber construction. It’s a favorite on BoldRide, but I have to admit – I don’t love the wheels.
2. 2011 Gallardo Superleggera LP570-4
More power, less weight. This is a sure-fire way to get any enthusiasts’ heart pumping. Superleggera is Italiano for super-light, and this car benefitted greatly from extensive carbon fiber usage, lowering its weight to 2,950 pounds. Power was bumped a paltry 10 horsepower. Nevertheless, this car was simultaneously the lightest and most powerful Gallardo to date, and its performance numbers proved it. Compared to a standard Gallardo, it was over half a second quicker to 100 km/h and nearly 4 seconds quicker to 200 km/hr.
1. 1972 Miura P400SV
Simply put, the Miura is the most beautiful Lamborghini ever built. Devoid of gimmicky styling, the Miura is the purest sports car ever built by the Bolognese firm. The P400SV variant was the finest of the series with more power and an improved engine oiling system. Interestingly, it was only the last 96 cars that received limited slip differentials. Channeling my inner Miles Davis, if I could own any one Lamborghini, this would be the one. With total production for the P400SV numbering just 150 cars, I’m not holding my breath.