The latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage isn't about the physical cars, but rather the heart and soul of a brand.
Jay welcomes on Andrew Romanowski, president of the Lamborghini Club of America, who shows off two engines from the Italian firm's history. The first is a 3.5-liter V-12, the first Lamborghini engine. Normally, it sits under the hood of a 350 GT. Romanowski says he's in the process of restoring the car, but the engine is ready to roll. For the show, Romanowski threw it on a cart modeled after one used by Lamborghini at a 1960s auto show to display it and fire up.
As the story goes, Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to build a better engine for a road car than Ferrari. While that's subjective, the V-12 powerplant certainly caught everyone's attention. The engine originally made 315 horsepower, but Romanowski doesn't share what the output is of his restored version. The rest of Lamborghini and Ferrari's history is rather well known. Cliff notes for those interested: two Italian men, a sports car builder and a tractor builder, argued about building a better car, and Ferrari told Lamborghini to do it himself. So he did.
Lamborghini's V-12 was regarded as smoother and slightly more advanced than the engines Ferrari had put into its own road cars. On the cart, it also looks like an artistic masterpiece with the valve covers elegantly displaying the Lamborghini name. The engine features four cams, two valves per cylinder, and six Weber carburetors. Jay remarks that it came at about the middle point of the development of the automobile, and that it's not very complicated today. As an overhead cam engine, however, it's basic design is more advanced than some of today's pushrod engines from American automakers (though those engines make plenty of power and have other advancements of their own).
At the 8:00-minute mark, Romanowski fires it up, and it sounds lovely.
The second engine on display is an 8.0-liter marine engine owned by Lamborghini enthusiast Rob Leary, who Romanowski describes as a guy who "caught the Lamborghini bug" a few years ago. Since then, he's bought up all sorts of obscure engines and items from the Italian car maker. The marine engine is essentially a bigger version of the 3.5-liter V-12.
According to Leary, the 8.0-liter V-12 could have made its way to the Countach or LM002, but the engine was too large and heavy for any road car. So, it was made for boats instead. This particular engine is fuel-injected and was built for boat racing in about 1988. A carbureted version was meant for pleasure boats.
We challenge some gearhead to stuff the massive V-12 boat engine into a car or truck. If you do it, we want to see it.