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Back in 1963, when Ferruccio Lamborghini presented its first production car, the Lamborghini 350 GT, the big V12 engine delivered 280 Bhp at 6,500 rpm, which was a rather impressive number at that time, today it has been dwarfed by the power output of much lesser vehicles, so let’s take a look at the first ‘exotic’ car from Lamborghini, the Miura from the late Sixties …and to make it even more interesting, we’ll compare the flagship models over the different generations.
The Lamborghini Miura – 385hp
In 1971 the Lamborghini Miura SV was built in Sant’Agata, only 150 units would be made eventually, but the transversely placed 4-Liter V12 engine was capable of 385 Bhp at 7,850 rpm at that time … almost 50 years later the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ would be available … with a 6.5-Liter V12 delivering 770 Bhp at 8,500 rpm … exactly double the power output of the legendary Miura SV.
Power output from the flagship V12 engines would steadily grow over the generations, even within the same model, the company kept developing the legendary V12 to perform better and better, in 1965 when the Miura P400 was introduced, power output was 350hp, in the Miura S from 1969 this would grow to 370hp, and by 1971 the ultimate SV version came with 385hp … now there are a few Miura SVJ built at Sant’Agata too, but I couldn’t find any details on increased hp tuning for the engines, so let’s keep it at 385hp for now.
The Lamborghini Countach – 455hp
After the Miura SV, Ferruccio decided it was time for something even more radical … time for the Countach, the first version from 1974 was the LP400, again a 4-Liter V12 engine but mounted longitudinally with an initial power output of 375 Bhp at 8,000 rpm, 10hp less than the Miura SV before.
Then something strange happened, the impressive, wide flared, winged Lamborghini Countach LP400 S from 1978 only had 353 Bhp at 7,500 rpm, it would take until 1982 for the Countach LP500 S to be back to 375 Bhp at 7,000 rpm from a V12 with 4,754 cc (290 ci) displacement … but both S versions were a little underpowered, so Lamborghini took the Countach to the next level by putting four valves per cylinder in the 1985 Countach Quattrovalvole with 455 hp at 7,000 rpm, making it the flagship in the series … the 1988 25th Anniversary edition came with different styling, but kept the same 5,167 cc (315 ci) engine.
The Lamborghini Diablo – 550hp
In 1990 the Lamborghini Diablo took over the reign from the Countach, still a V12 engine, but now enlarged to 5,707 cc (348 ci), power output raised to 492 Bhp at 7,000 rpm, enough to make the Diablo the fastest car at that time, in 1994 the Diablo SE30 would raise power again, this time to 525 Bhp at 7,000 rpm while the 1995 Diablo SV would have to settle for 510 Bhp at 7,100 rpm.
In 1999 a major mid-life remodel happened in the Diablo line up, the 2WD model was dropped, and only the VT, the SV, and the VT Roadster were available, all still with the 5,707cc V12 engine, but now with slightly more power: 530 Bhp at 7,100 rpm …but the final result wasn’t in yet … this would happen only a year later … the swansong of the Diablo range was the VT 6.0 made in 2000, this time the engine was enlarged to 5,992 cc (366 ci) and power output was 550 Bhp at 7,100 rpm.
Actually, the 2000 Diablo VT 6.0 took the engine from another Diablo model, the limited-edition GT, which used the 6-Liter engine first, and was, in fact, a street-legal version of the Diablo GT-R race car, but the Diablo GT was a limited production model of which only 80 would initially be made (in the end a total of 83 were built) … the Diablo GT did deliver an impressive 575 Bhp at 7,300 rpm.
The Lamborghini Murciélago – 670hp
In 2001 the Lamborghini Murciélago was introduced, the original 6.2 version used the by now well-known V12 engine again, but increased the displacement to 6,192 cc (378 ci) with a power output of 580 Bhp at 7,500 rpm, five years later, in 2006, Lamborghini unveiled the Murciélago LP640, with a 6,496 cc (396 ci) V12 engine and a power increase to 640 Bhp at 8,000 rpm … hence the LP640 designation, for ‘Longitudinale Posteriore 640 hp’.
But the famous flagship model in the Murciélago range was without a doubt the 2009 LP670-4 Superveloce model, and as the name suggests, this V12 brute delivered a total of 670 Bhp at 8,000 rpm, the intention was to build 350 units as the swansong to the Murciélago range, but in the end, only 185 left the factory doors before the Aventador took over.
The Lamborghini Aventador – 770hp
At the 2011 Geneva Motor Show the latest V12 model was unveiled, the Lamborghini Aventador, with a modified V12 engine no longer based on the original Bizzarinni design, a displacement of 6,498 cc (396 ci) and a power output of 700 Bhp at 8,250 rpm as the name suggests, four years later the Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce came around, the same engine now made 750 Bhp at 8,400 rpm while in 2017 the Aventador S was shown with 740 Bhp at 8,400 rpm.
The absolute flagship in the Aventador range became the 2019 SVJ version, this time power output was no less than 770 Bhp at 8,500 rpm, and while listed as a limited edition model, with a production number of 900 units it is still outnumbering all the previous V12 generations from the past …and it seems the end of the power increase hasn’t been reached yet as the Sian has the same V12 engine pumping out 785 hp (and an additional 34 hp from the e-motor).
So it seems the horsepower race isn’t over yet, but most likely we’ll be seeing the addition of electric motors from now one to raise power close to, or even beyond the 1,000 mark … only time will tell.