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The fascinating history of Lamborghini's V12 engines: a review of the models that are already legendary


After 60 years, the Italian brand abandons this engine and turns to hybridization. The naturally aspirated V12 engine is one of the jewels of Lamborghini's history. This powertrain has been at the heart of the supercar brand's product lines since 1963. In fact, to date, only two designs have been produced for the Italian house's models. But technology and emission regulations continued to evolve and what was inevitable finally arrived: Lamborghini has to say goodbye to its V12


naturally aspirated V12 engine

is one of the jewels of Lamborghini's history.

This powertrain has been at the heart of the supercar brand's product lines since 1963. In fact, to date, only two designs have been produced for the Italian house's models.

But technology and emission regulations continued to evolve and what was inevitable finally arrived: Lamborghini

has to say goodbye to its V12 gasoline engine

, the one that accompanied the company's groundbreaking designs throughout its history.

This naturally aspirated configuration has come to an end.

And the Aventador model was the last to carry it.

The Sant'Agata Bolognese brand is also transforming and giving way to electromobility: within the first quarter of this year the new model will appear that will start the hybrid era of the company.

Lamborghini Aventador, the latest model to mount the naturally aspirated V12 engine.

Below is a review of the history of the V12 heart that made users and fans of the Italian brand beat.

Two engines to make history

Lamborghini's first V12 engine, essentially

a racing engine made more "civilized" for street and highway use

, was designed by Giotto Bizzarrini.

Logically it debuted in the company's first model, the 350 GT.

The second engine, designed from scratch but with no changes to the main technical concepts, was introduced in the Aventador that was launched in 2011. This was an important technological step for the company, setting new standards in terms of power and reliability.

The Lamborghini 350GT was the brand's first model and, of course, it had a V12 engine.

It is clear that for the first engine to have been used for decades, it was subjected to constant evolution, with a large number of modifications throughout its useful life to offer greater power and, subsequently, to considerably reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Between 1963 and 2010

the engine was used in different positions


At first it was mounted on the front of the 350 GT, 400 GT and Espada.

It was developed using aluminum for the cylinder heads, crankcase and pistons to reduce weight to 232 kg.

The engine was then used in a rear mid-engine layout, rotated 90 degrees to a transverse orientation in the Miura.

Later, it was rotated another 90 degrees to a mid-rear-longitudinal position, beginning with the Countach, to help even out weight distribution.

The V12 engine of the Lamborghini Diablo SE had the ignition sequence of the cylinders on its cover.

As engine size increased, from 3.5 liters in the 350 GT to 6.5 liters in the Murciélago, it became increasingly necessary to reduce the weight of the engine.

To do this, new materials and new technologies were introduced to lower the engine into the chassis.

Currently, the V12 is the heart of the Lamborghini Aventador, Sián and Countach LPI 800-4, as well as the Essenza SCV12, the track car in which it produces 830 horsepower.

The birth of a heritage 

Bizzarrini created a V12 that was meant to give the company a chance to enter the world of racing.

Instead, Ferruccio Lamborghini chose to make it a production engine for his new model and thus began the love story that continues to this day.

With the Lamborghini Muira the V12 engine is no longer at the front.

“The Lamborghini story was born with the V12

,” said Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini's former technical director.

"It is clear that in the 1960s, the V12 represented the pinnacle of technology, luxury and sportiness in all automobiles."

After the 350 GT and its derivatives, the V12 found its way into the Miura in 1966, the Countach in 1971 and the Diablo in 1990 before finding its final home in the Murciélago.

The Lamborghini Countach was another emblem of the brand to carry the V12 engine.

The engine's versatility was demonstrated when engineers installed a 5.2-litre version of the engine in

the LM 002, Lamborghini's first off-roader, in 1986,

before the SUV craze.

A one-off special version of the LM 002 was also built, with a 700 horsepower 7.2-litre V12 typically used in offshore racing boats.

A radical change of thought

Thanks to the double overhead camshaft solution for each cylinder bank, the 'V' angle of the engine could be increased, which meant the center of gravity could be lowered.

For the Miura, the rear mid-engine transverse layout was chosen to achieve better weight distribution and to shorten the car's wheelbase.

The gearbox and differential were integrated into the drivetrain, rear of course, helping to make the overall package of this legendary supercar more compact.

Lamborghini's first SUV, the LM002, also featured a V12 engine.

Intent on further improving the Countach's weight distribution, the design team used the same engine but relocated it to the mid-rear position and rotated it an additional 90 degrees—essentially 180 degrees compared to the first 350 GT—and mounted the gearbox in front of the engine, practically “in the cockpit”.

With the 1986 model year, the V12 fitted to the Countach was also homologated for the US market.

This milestone was achieved using electronic fuel injection, which replaced carburettors in markets where anti-smog regulations were more stringent.

A V12 for four wheels

Something that characterized Lamborghini from the 90s were its four-wheel drive versions.

Work began in 1985 on the development of the V12 for use in the new Diablo supercar, which would debut in 1990 with engine capacity increased to 5.7 liters and a power output of 492 horsepower.

The Lamborghini.

Diablo was the brand's first car to offer four-wheel drive.

In its VT version introduced in 1993, the Diablo was Lamborghini's first supercar to also be available in

a four-wheel drive version


The Diablo SV-R, on the other hand, was created to compete in the Super Sport Trophy, which debuted as a support race at the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The new era with Audi

With Audi's acquisition of a majority stake in Lamborghini, a period of radical change began.

The new owners were aware of Lamborghini's need to maintain its identity and exclusivity.

“We were able to create a relationship between Audi and Lamborghini that set boundaries but also respected needs,” Reggiani said.

“From the beginning, Audi understood what could be asked of Lamborghini and what not, creating a balance that allowed both companies to improve by enhancing their differences”.

The Lamborghini Murciélago was the last model of the brand to carry the first generation V12.

Under the new ownership, a different approach was taken to the evolution of the V12.

From achieving high power output, the vision began to shift towards volumetric efficiency to meet increasingly stringent regulations.

An example is that of the Murciélago, which was introduced in 2001 with a 6.2-liter V12 engine that produced 580 horsepower.

It was updated in 2007 with a capacity increased to 6.5 liters and was capable of generating an impressive 670 horsepower.

The development of the V12 engine for the Murciélago allowed Lamborghini to find its own place within the Audi realm, but it was the decision to

design a new V12 from scratch, after 45 years

, that allowed Lamborghini designers to set new goals and take advantage of new opportunities.

The Lamborghini Aventador Ultimae, the company's last to feature a naturally aspirated V12.

"For Lamborghini, the Aventador was like a dress rehearsal to show that we could achieve power, weight and performance, but also the reliability that the Group demanded of us," Reggiani said.

The results were unquestionable: "We sold approximately double the number of cars initially estimated, and this is a good indicator of the success of the Aventador."

The Aventador's engine was introduced in 2011 and produced 690 horsepower with a 6.5-liter displacement.

It had several evolutions but the peak was found in 2021 with the Ultimae, the last of the street Aventadors, which delivers 780 horses.

Lamborghini's V12 engine, heritage of the Italian brand's history.

The same engine is also installed in the Essenza, a track car that is not subject to the restrictions of the homologation for use on public roads.

In this configuration, the engine reaches 830 hp, a true marvel of modern engineering.

The Aventador was the last Lamborghini to mount a purely naturally aspirated V12 engine before the next hybrid chapter launches in Q1 2023.

look also

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The Twingo Ferrari: the story of when they almost put a V8 engine in the little Renault car

Source: clarin

All tech articles on 2023-01-20

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News/Politics 2023-01-01T10:09:43.821Z

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