There are many iconic cars out that have brought awe to generations upon generations. There are a lot of stunning automobiles made throughout history; bu there’s something about Lamborghinis that just stands beyond gaping awe to significant historical wonder. The moment the Lamborghini name is mentioned, many of us automatically think of the vertical doors—which was introduced to the world and popularized by the Lamborghini Countach. However, Lamborghinis have so much more to innovative offers than what meets the eyes. For many car enthusiasts, what makes Lamborghinis so special are the mechanisms under the hood: the engines.
Brief history of Lamborghini
To understand why Lamborghini engines are so special, you need to know a little bit about the history of the company and its creator. Lamborghini was born out of need. After all, most innovation and creativity happens when there’s a problem that needs solution. That’s exactly what happened to Ferruccio Lamborghini in 1963. As its namesake, Ferruccio Lamborghini founded the company that we know today, but the journey of the brand wasn’t always smooth sailing. Before he dove into the world of GT cars, Ferruccio was actually a manufacturer of tractors and other agricultural machinery. He capitalized on the apparent hole in the industry that was left open after the war. Ferruccio made a fortune out of his business endeavor and rewarded himself with a new Ferrari, which was the standard in sports car manufacturing at the time. Being the perfectionist that he was, Ferruccio was unsatisfied with the car’s subpar clutches.
Enzo Ferrari totally dismissed Ferruccio’s claims, and told the tractor maker to go back to making tractors and leave the sports cars to the experts. Ferruccio took this on as a challenge and began work on what would be the first Lamborghini ever made. It turns out that Ferruccio himself was a gifted engineer and mechanic, and he’s now even often referred to as the real Tony Stark.
The special Lamborghini engines
Interestingly enough, the very first Lamborghini launched did not have an engine. Ferruccio designed and built the 350GTV in only four months—a bit of a rush with the goal of launching the vehicle during the 1963 Turin Motor Show. The car gained a positive response even thought the hood was filled with bricks unbeknownst to the crowd.
It’s misleading to say that there’s only one reason why Lamborghini engines are so special. In fact, there are several reasons, and many of them can be rooted back to the perfectionist quality that Ferruccio often required of his brand. It’s long been known that Lamborghini engines are some of the best internal combustion engines ever made in the history of engineering. That statement remains true to this day as the company continues to push boundaries under the ownership of the Volkswagen Group.
There were a few dark times in the history of Lamborghini when the company had to be sold to different owners. There was even a time when many thought that the end was close for the car company. Lamborghini managed to emerge out of darkness each time only to produce something remarkable in its automobiles. One such example happened between 1987 to 1993, when Chrysler assumed ownership of the brand and company. This collaboration gave birth to what we now know as viper engines. The viper engine is a naturally aspirated high performance engine. The Chrysler engine was re-mastered by Lamborghini by switching out the original iron-cast block with lighter aluminum alloy heads. It made a world of difference in the engine
This point also leads us to another reason why Lamborghini engines are special. As the super car industry progressed over the years, laws and regulations have also changed. The standard engine in a super car today almost always includes a turbocharger or supercharger. After all, those components add to the speed of vehicles.
Lamborghini engines are all naturally aspirated engines. This means that the engines don’t use the force induction of turbochargers or superchargers. The oxygen intake in the engine depends completely on atmospheric pressure. It’s an ingenious feat in engineering, physics, and mechanics. The fact that the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ holds the current production car lap record of 6 minutes and 44 seconds in Nurburgring is a testament to the masterful engineering of Lambo engines. In fact, the Aventador SVJ beat the Porsche GT2 RS by three seconds. The 6.5-liter V12 engine of the Aventador produces an impressive 770-hp, and the handling is no laughing matter either.
One of Lamborghini’s chief test drivers, Valentino Balboni, was gifted with the keys to a vintage 1986 Countach upon his retirement from the company in 2008. Balboni worked for Lamborghini for 40 years—started as an apprentice and worked his way to become a chief test driver. The Countach mentioned features another feat in Lamborghini engineering that made ripples in the industry. This Countach upgrade was created in response to another Ferrari vehicle. The Countach featured a unique 5000 Quattrovalvole engine, which means it had 4 cylinders per valve. For the V-12 engine, the production output resulted to a mean 455-hp—making the Ferrari look like another toy car.
To Balboni—and possibly all others that have driven and/or admired Lamborghinis for a long time—it wasn’t about any of the specific features of the vehicle that’s memorable. To Balboni, the experience of the driving the handful machine and the joy it brought is what he will treasure the most. In an interview, Balboni described the Countach as “dancing all the time." That’s probably the best way to describe what it’s like to be in a Lamborghini and even just see a Lamborghini. It’s a work of science, technology, engineering, art, and history all rolled up into one impressive and super fast package.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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