The V12 is dead, all hail the V12! Lamborghini has ended production of its V12 engine, and it is truly the end of an era. An era full of iconic bedroom-poster sports- and supercars with a heritage that started with one of my all-time favourite cars, the Lamborghini Miura. This car is pretty much considered the first Supercar, and to me is pure sex on wheels. And even though the Miura wasn’t the first V12 Lamborghini, it is one of the most famous ones ever made. The V12 that was found in the 350GT, Lamborghini’s first-ever car, was used for decades before being replaced with a brand-new one for the Aventador. However, in spirit, this ties in with Lamborghini’s latest, with Lamborghini’s earliest and most famous cars. That’s also one of the reasons why this unique Lamborghini Aventador LP 780-4 Ad Personam Ultimae Roadster is inspired by the unique Lamborghini Miura Roadster from 1968. So with this send-off, we basically come full circle as Lamborghini is poised to enter its full-electric future.
The story of Lamborghini is well-known to car enthusiasts the world over, as the founder Ferrucio Lamborghini basically started the company out of spite. Being the son of grape farmers, born in the Emilio-Romagna region of Italy, he made a fortune through his tractor-manufacturing business he started shortly after WWII. This fortune allows him to buy increasingly more luxurious and exclusive cars, eventually ending up owning multiple Ferraris. Ferrucio famously had a dispute with Enzo Ferrari as he felt the clutches used in the cars were inferior, and the company’s after-sales service was sub-par. He also modified one of his cars to outperform a factory-spec Ferrari, much to the dismay of Il Commendatore. This ultimately sparked the birth of Lamborghini as a sports car manufacturer, with the prototype Lamborghini 350GTV being introduced at the 1963 Turin Motor Show.
The V12 engine has always been part of Lamborghini, as its very first car ever made was already fitted with one. It brought together legends in the industry as the chassis was designed and built by Gian Paolo Dallara and Paolo Stanzani, with the 3.5-litre V12 engine designed and built by Giotto Bizzarini (under his Societá Autostar company). This was fitted into the Lamborghini 350GT, the first production car based on the 350GTV but with a slightly redesigned body by Carrozzeria Touring. The 3.5-litre V12 was supposed to make 365 horsepower thanks to its high-revving build using race-bred dry-sump lubrication, something Ferrucio didn’t want. For the 350GT, it was detuned to a more docile 285 horsepower.
The 350GT was in production from 1964 to 1966 and was followed by the 400GT, with a slightly bigger variant of the V12. This was the Grand Tourer that Ferrucio ultimately wanted to build to compete with Ferrari and even came as a stretched 2+2 variant. Sales went well, and this led to Dallara, Wallace and Stanzani investing personal time to develop a prototype chassis of something that would change the automotive industry forever. This became known as the P400, on which the drop-dead gorgeous Lamborghini Miura would be built.
The Miura and the one-off Roadster
The rolling chassis of the Miura was presented at the 1965 Turin Auto Show with the prototype introduced a year later at the Geneva Motor Show. Penned by Marcello Gandini, then employed by Bertone, the car caused quite a storm when unveiled. The shape was unlike anything that came before it, and quite frankly unlike anything that has been done since. Named after a famous Spanish fighting bull, a theme very common to Lamborghini, the Miura had a very sleek and curvaceous profile, riddled with unique details. Some of the most laureled design elements are the flip-up headlights with “eyelashes”, the doors that resemble bull horns when opened and viewed from the front, and the clamshell rear bodywork section.
The chassis for the Miura was specifically designed to have a transversely mounted V12 in the back, which ultimately created the first-ever supercar with a mid-engined two-seat layout. This setup has since become the standard for most sports- and supercars. The 3.9-litre V12 was positioned sideways instead of length-wise, and directly connected to a five-speed gearbox (similar to the construction of the original Mini). With 385 horsepower, the V12 made the Miura the fastest production car when it hit the road.
During its life, which ran from 1966 to 1973, Lamborghini would build 764 Miuras. Following the original Miura P400, the Miura would be regularly updated with a more powerful engine, chassis modifications and things like power windows and airconditioning to increase performance and comfort. One of the most stand-out versions is the Miura Jota, a test mule developed by test driver Bob Wallace with a front spoiler, fixed headlights, improved suspension, more power and less weight. Only one was built and tragically completely destroyed in a crash when tested on a closed section of road near Brescia.
Another unique Miura is the Roadster you see here. Although multiple open-top Miura’s exist, this is the only factory-built one, constructed in 1968 and presented at the 1968 Brussels Auto Show. The Miura Roadster is different from all other Miuras, especially with the reworked rear section exposing the engine underneath. The car is finished in a striking blue paint job, and is now on display at the MUDETEC Museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Lamborghini’s home town, until the end of November 2022.
From Countach P400 to Aventador Send-off
Following the Miura was a tough one for Lamborghini, but the company needed a V12 poster car of course. What followed was a dramatic shift in styling, resulting in yet another car that shook the automotive industry, the Countach. A child of the late 1970s to early 1980s, the Countach had a groundbreaking wedge-shaped design and was the first car to have scissor doors! And while most might think of the later Lamborghini Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole (see below) and its iconic big wing on the back, the Countach started life as the much sleeker P400. It would be the replacement of the then-best-selling Espada and would remain in production from 1974 to 1988. Naturally, it came with a 4-litre V12 engine that grew to 5.2-litre by the end of its production cycle. Ferrucio Lamborghini retired in 1974, the year the Countach went into production. The company had a troublesome few years ahead, with multiple new owners, before eventually going bust in 1986.
A year later, the company was bought by Chrysler, who continued the work done on the replacement for the ageing Countach prior to the company’s bankruptcy. Returning to designer Marcello Gandini, Lamborghini would introduce the Diablo (see above) in 1990, which was immediately crowned the fasted production car at the time. Powered by a 5.7-litre V12 making close to 500 horsepower and propelling the Diablo to a top speed of 325kph (202mph). This grew to a 6.0-litre V12 and 595 horsepower for the most powerful Diablo ever made, the SE30 and SE30 Jota. The Diablo would be the last notoriously hard-to-drive Lamborghini.
The company was sold to MegaTech, an Indonesian-Malaysian company, by 1993 but just a couple of years later Audi AG (Part of the Volkswagen Group) took over and dramatically restructured Lamborghini. The Diablo was retired and work was started on its replacement, the Murcielago (see above, with the Countach and Diablo). With a V12 ranging from 6.2 litres to 6.5 litres, and power outputs between 580 and 670 horsepower, this was yet again an extremely fast car, and thanks to the involvement of Audi a much easier car to drive. Top speeds for all Murcielago’s were well above 330kph.
And then came the Aventador, the much more aggressively styled Top Dog for Lamborghini. This would see the first-ever completely redesigned and newly built V12 since that 3.5 litre V12 built by Bizzarini. The V12 engine in the back produces a minimum of 700 horsepower, which means a zero-to-100kph time of under 3 seconds and a top speed of at least 350kph. The Aventador has been a huge success for Lamborghini and comes in many variations and special editions. The dramatic wedge-shaped carbon fibre body continues the lineage of the Countach, Diablo and Murcielago and also has those wild scissor doors that made its predecessors so beloved.
But as we move to electrification, Lamborghini has decided to kill off the V12 altogether and has ended its production just recently. With this, the era of the V12 comes to a sad end, an era that started almost 60 years ago and would be the bloodline for the brand from day one. However, Lamborghini has built a fitting homage to the amazing powerhouse V12 that has powered so many of its cars, with the Aventador LP 780-4 Ad Personam Ultimae Roadster. This unique car is finished in the same paint scheme as the one-of 1968 Lamborghini Miura Roadster, with a bright blue Azzura Flake upper and silver Grigio Liqueo lower half. The interior also has similarities to the Miura, as do the wheels (in colour at least, not in design).
The engine produces 780 horsepower, which is sent to all four wheels, as indicated by the LP 780-4 designation. This is the most powerful Aventador to date, and it hits the 100kph mark in just 2.84 seconds and can hit a top speed of 356kph if you keep your foot down long enough. Even though Lamborghini will build 600 final editions of the Aventador, this one is truly unique thanks to its one-off styling.
For more information, please visit Lamborghini.com