Lamborghini Performance Resurgence

Lamborghini hasn’t always been at the sharp end of performance car development, but their latest achievements are remarkable and deserving of recognition.

The raging bull logo centerpiece is a reflection of both Ferruccio Lamborghini’s love of bullfighting, and the conflict-based origins of his automobile company.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lamborghini’s remarkable story, here are the basics:

In the mid-twentieth century after achieving success with his tractor business, Ferruccio purchased a Ferrari.

Ferraris were already gaining a world class reputation for speed and luxury, but not everything about Enzo Ferrari’s product was to his liking – Ferruccio found the Ferrari noisy and too rough on the road, as well as mechanically unreliable.

Being an accomplished engineer and mechanic himself, Ferruccio thought he’d present his findings to Ferrari, and his technical notes/feedback reportedly made their way to Enzo.

Enzo, known for being just a bit surly from time to time, reacted to Lamborghini’s feedback with dismissiveness and disdain. Feedback from a lowly tractor manufacturer? Come on. Already with five Formula One Drivers’ Championships and one Constructors’ Championship to his name, Enzo wasn’t having it.

Motivated by Ferrari’s slight, Ferruccio founded Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini in 1963 in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy. (Twenty miles from Ferrari’s headquarters.) About four months later Lamborghini released his first car. It was on.

Through the decades Ferrari has stayed mostly true to its performance ethos and routinely set new performance benchmarks, while Lamborghini’s developed a bit of an alternative reputation.

Sure, Lamborghinis have consistently been full-fledged supercars with striking designs and epic, naturally-aspirated engines, but from a dynamic performance standpoint they’ve been lacking. Those “in the know” who seek legitimate all-around supercar performance typically look to Corvette, McLaren, Porsche, Ferrari. For looks and cred on Ocean Drive and Rodeo Drive, on the other hand, Lamborghini.

Rightly or wrongly, Lamborghinis have developed a bit of a reputation as the poser’s supercar. Lambo drivers more likely to be obnoxiously promoting 1st gear acceleration in choked traffic, or vying for a Darwin Award on YouTube than putting down a clean lap at a track event. The viewpoint isn’t entirely without evidence…

That chapter might be coming to an end though. (Well, at least to some extent.) Two recent Lamborghinis signal a major shift toward legitimate track performance: The Lamborghini Huracán LP 640-4 Performante and Lamborghini Aventador LP 770-4 Superveloce Jota.

Both cars hold the high distinction of logging sub-7 minute laps around the Nurburgring Nordschleife, with the Aventador LP 770-4 Superveloce Jota having just set the new production car lap record last month – 6:44.97. (Besting both the current Porsche 911 GT2 RS and 911 GT3 RS.)

Typical raging bull horsepower plays a role in these lap times of course, but there are plenty of cars with equal or greater power and lesser ring lap times. It’s primarily Lamborghini’s technical engineering advancements and racing technology that have yielded its remarkable track performance.

Road course capability is enhanced with Lamborghini’s active aerodynamics system (ALA).

According to Lamborghini:

“Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva is a smart and innovative system that manages active aerodynamics. ALA adapts to the driving style and type of route. When necessary, it increases vertical load to assist stability and speed through curves, or it reduces aerodynamic resistance to assist acceleration and reaching the top speed.”

Double wishbone (Huracan) and push-rod (Aventador) suspension systems feature magnetorheological shock absorbers “that instantaneously respond to driving style and adapt to the road conditions and driving dynamics, improving control over the vehicle, especially on the circuit.”

The proof is in the pudding. Check out Marco Mapelli’s handiwork in the lap videos below.

Speaking of racing technology, Lamborghini’s credibility is growing there too. In America’s IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship, a Lamborghini Huracan has a healthy championship lead in the ultra-competitive and diverse GT Daytona category with just three races to go. (Sounds as good/mean as it looks, by the way.)

There will always be a home for Lamborghinis on Ocean Drive, but it’s awesome to see them establishing legitimacy elsewhere too.

Ferruccio approves, and Enzo’s no doubt rolling in his grave pending a counter-offensive from Maranello.

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