Believe it or not, just two V-12 engine designs have powered 60 years of Lamborghini supercars. Having recently built its last non-hybrid V-12 road car, the automaker is taking a look back at these two epochal engines.
The first engine was introduced in 1963 in Lamborghini's first production car—the 350 GT—and stayed in production until 2010. During its long life, this engine underwent many modifications, growing form 3.5 liters in the 350 GT to 6.5 liters in later versions of the Murciélago, the final Lamborghini to use it.
Lamborghini's first V-12 started out with a front-engine configuration in the 350 GT, and got the same installation in the later 400 GT and Espada. It switched to a transverse mid-engine configuration in the Lamborghini Miura, before switching to a longitudinal mid-engine layout for the Countach, Diablo, and Murciélago.
1964 Lamborghini 350 GT
This engine was also used in the Lamborghini LM002, the automaker's first SUV. A one-off LM002 was built using a 7.2-liter version of the V-12 designed for offshore powerboat racing, and churning out 700 hp.
Launched with an aluminum crankcase, cylinder heads, and pistons to keep weight down, as well as dual overhead cams, the V-12 made the switch from carburetors to electronic fuel injection in 1986 to meet stricter U.S. emissions standards. Aiming to improve throttle response, Lamborghini then introduced individual throttle bodies for each cylinder with the 1998 Diablo GT.
Now under Audi's stewardship, Lamborghini introduced a 6.2-liter version making 580 hp in the Murciélago for that model's 2001 debut. In one last update, the engine was later enlarged to 6.5 liters, and output was increased to 670 hp.
Lamborghini Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae
After 47 years of production, the original V-12 was finally replaced with a clean-sheet design. Introduced in 2011 in the Aventador, the second V-12 initially produced 690 hp from 6.5 liters. While it didn't last nearly as long as the original V-12, this engine saw a lot of use powering numerous Aventador variants and limited-edition specials, including the Aventador Superveloce and SVJ, and the track-only Essenza SCV12.
The Lamborghini Aventador LP780-4 Ultimae launched in 2021 is the automaker's final production car powered purely by a V-12 with no electric assist. In this application, the 6.5-liter V-12 produces 769 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque, with peak power delivered at a screaming 8,500 rpm.
With the final Aventadors delivered, it's the end of an era at Lamborghini. An Aventador successor is expected soon with a V-12, but now as part of a hybrid powertrain. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann in 2021 confirmed the V-12 will be entirely new, making it just the third V-12 in Lamborghini's history.