Believe it or not, only two V-12 engine designs have powered Lamborghini supercars for 60 years. The automaker, which recently built its last non-hybrid V-12 road car, is looking back at the two landmark engines.
The first engine was introduced in 1963 in Lamborghini’s first production car, the 350 GT, and was produced until 2010. During its long life, the engine underwent many modifications, increasing from 3.5 liters in the 350 GT to 6.5 liters in later versions. Murciélago, the last Lamborghini to use it.
Lamborghini’s first V-12 engine was a front-engined configuration in the 350 GT, and later found the same in the 400 GT and Espada. It switched to a transverse mid-engine configuration in the Lamborghini Miura, and then to a longitudinal mid-engine layout in the Countach, Diablo and Murciélago.
1964 Lamborghini 350 GT
The engine was also used in the automaker’s first SUV, the Lamborghini LM002. The one-off LM002 was built using a 7.2-liter V-12 engine designed specifically for powerboat racing, making 700 horsepower.
In 1986, the V-12 introduced an aluminum crankcase, cylinder heads and pistons to save weight, as well as dual overhead cams, and moved from carburetors to electronic fuel injection to meet stricter U.S. emissions standards. To improve throttle response, Lamborghini then introduced individual throttle bodies for each cylinder in the 1998 Diablo GT.
Now, under Audi’s stewardship, Lamborghini introduced a 580-hp 6.2-liter version at the Murciélago for the model’s 2001 debut. In the last update, the engine was later enlarged to 6.5 liters and output increased to 670 horsepower.
Lamborghini Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae
After 47 years in production, the original V-12 was finally replaced by an all-new design. The second V-12 was introduced in the Aventador in 2011, initially producing 690 horsepower from a 6.5-liter engine. While it didn’t last as long as the original V-12, the engine was used extensively to power numerous Aventador variants and limited-edition specials, including the Aventador Superveloce and SVJ, as well as the track-only Essenza SCV12.
Launched in 2021, the Lamborghini Aventador LP780-4 Ultimae is the automaker’s final production car, powered entirely by a V-12 with no electric assist. In this application, the 6.5-liter V-12 produces 769 horsepower and 531 pound-feet of torque, with peak power delivered at a stunning 8,500 rpm.
With the delivery of the last Aventadors, an era for Lamborghini is over. The Aventador’s successor is expected to get a V-12 soon, but now as part of a hybrid system. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann confirmed in 2021 that the V-12 will be all-new, making it just the third V-12 in Lamborghini history.