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V12 Lamborghinis will always be the ultimate dream cars | Thank Frankel it's Friday

30th March 2023
andrew_frankel_headshot.jpg Andrew Frankel

It is astonishing to me that in its entire history and until this very week, Lamborghini had produced just five generations of mid-engined, V12 flagships. Count ‘em. Since the Miura in 1966, we’ve had the Countach, the Diablo, the Murcielago and the Aventador. And apart from some ludicrously low volume specials, that was it until the Aventador replacement, the 1,015PS (747kW) Revuelto was announced two days ago.

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I still don’t think there’s a car in the world that comes with a greater sense of occasion than a Lamborghini supercar. Not long ago I drove the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport, all 1600bhp of it, and it fair blew my mind as you can probably imagine; but even as I walked up to it and settled myself in its sumptuous interior, it was not with the anticipation that has accompanied every time I’ve driven a V12 Lambo over the last 35 years.

I’ve often wondered why. It’s not because they’re always brilliant things to drive. On the contrary, as a journalist one of the most interesting aspects of Lamborghini flagships is you never really know what you’re going to get. Drive a new Porsche 911 GT3 and, while you must never prejudge any car, it’s hard to forget the fact that there hasn’t been a duffer in that line of cars for at least 20 years. So on probability alone, it’s unlikely any new one is going to trip over its shoelaces. Lambos? Who knows? I’ve driven two Countachs, one was brilliant, the other terrible. The standard Diablo VT was a very disappointing car, the roadster even more so, but the cut-price, rear-drive, lightweight SV was absolutely brilliant, as was the finely tuned, limited edition SE-30. True I never drove a Murcielago I didn’t like, but the first Aventador was a dreadful letdown, so much so I could hardly credit how much they managed to improve it over time to its ultimate iteration, the SVJ which, while still flawed, was quite magnificent on the right road.

Perhaps it’s their looks. After an Aventador, everything else looks like a pulled punch. There’s not another car in the world better at clearing the lane in front of you than a V12 Lamborghini. If this was because they were merely aggressively styled I’d have no time for that at all; but it’s not. What these cars have is presence, presence in a quantity even Ferraris can’t match. I am far, far more interested in how a car drives than how it looks, but every time I have a V12 Lamborghini here, I find myself staring at it. Oddly enough I felt the same about the BMW i8 I ran for a year, but very little else.

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Indeed I remember so clearly the first such Lambo that came to stay. I guess it would have been 1995 and the car was the bright yellow Diablo SV press car that appeared in every major motoring magazine in the country. I drove it down to the little Welsh cottage where we lived, winced as I tore off the thankfully sacrificial little rubber lip spoiler on the rutted drive, then parked it so it was the first thing I’d see when I looked out of the bedroom window in the morning. If I hadn’t known it would be there, seen from above, nose pointing down the drive, ready to go, I think I’d have had a coronary.

But I don’t think it’s that either. Or not just that. Or not just so far as I am concerned. I think it’s about my childhood. Just as I am sure the reason I enjoy what my children call ‘dad rock’ more than any other genre of music is because that’s what I was hearing more of during my most suggestible years in the 1970s, so too did I see more Lamborghinis than any other kind of car. And this was not because we lived in Sant’Agata Bolognese because we didn’t, but because those were the images, torn from magazines, that I used to plaster my bedroom walls when I was a kid. Because they were the most exciting man-made objects I’d ever seen. The last things I saw at night were Lamborghinis, and the first things I saw when I woke up. Miuras, Countachs, Jaramas, Isleros, Espadas, they were all there and they all had 12 cylinders.

Which is why, should I be lucky enough to drive a Revuelto, it won’t be thoughts of its thousand horsepower drivetrain that makes it just a little harder to nod off the night before or which prises me from my slumbers just an hour or two earlier than ideal. It’ll be that unbroken line of truculent, difficult, impractical, on occasion disappointing but never, ever boring V12 Lamborghinis whose act the Revuelto must now find a way of following.

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