What constitutes a good Lamborghini? Design, performance, build quality and sound, no doubt, but what about the sensations and notions you just feel – are they quantifiable? How do you measure the awesomeness of a car? And one more thing: A good Lamborghini should be a good Lamborghini, that is, it should convey what Lamborghini intended and at the same time match people’s perception of a Lamborghini. A tall order!
The following list is my subjective list of what I believe to be the best Lamborghinis. To prevent multiple similar entries, and to widen the horizon, I have decided to let the best of any model act as a representative of that model. Please voice your opinion if you think my priorities are way off. Let us start:
10. Espada (all series)
With the Espada, Lamborghini had achieved what seemed an oxymoron: To create a low sports car which seats four grown-ups in comfort and offers ample luggage space. It was said that Ferruccio Lamborghini had envisioned an Italian Rolls-Royce, and the motoring press hailed the Espada as such. Standing only 119 cm tall (or low), the Espada looked like no other car on the market when it was launched in 1968, and Gandini drew inspiration from his recent Bertone concept cars Marzal and Pirana when creating the unmistakable Espada shape. The word Espada was taken from the bull fighting arena, namely the toreador’s sword. The Espada was one of Lamborghini’s greatest successes ever, with more than 1200 being made over 10 years.
9. Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni
The Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni granted many wishes when it was announced on the last day of June 2009. Lamborghini enthusiasts with a passion for driving had longed for a rear-wheel drive for many years, and it was in fact nearly ten years since the previous two-wheel drive Lamborghini. It was also limited to 250, each being numbered, which appealed to those who wanted a special version of the Gallardo. Thirdly, it paid homage to the long-time Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni, a proper gentleman and true Lamborghini enthusiast. I consider this Gallardo the best out of the many versions.
8. Diablo 6.0
One of Lamborghini’s biggest sellers, especially in the US, the Diablo went out on a high note with the 6.0. The design was simplified, resulting in a more sorted and unified appearance. As the model name says, the 6-litre V12 was, as always, the main ingredient, providing enough power to propel the 6.0 from a stand-still to 100 km/h in four seconds, eventually reaching its limits at a speed of 359 km/h. This Diablo was one of the first things Audi did after their take-over in 1998, and the outcome was most reassuring for the future of Lamborghini.
7. Murciélago LP 670-4 SV
The Murciélago was launched in 2001 and lived a long and happy life on the production line at Lamborghini, but it wasn’t until 2009 that it reached its true potential. The LP 670-4 SuperVeloce was Lamborghini’s way of sending the Murciélago off with a bang. Even though it was an option, most buyers opted for the massive rear wing which became an instant hit amongst enthusiasts. Additional subtle design features gave the SV the menacing look it deserved. 350 were planned, but only 186 were made. This still puzzles me.
6. 350 GT
Amazingly, Lamborghini got it right from the start – the 350 GT was their first production car, and it swept the competition off the road. The build quality, engineering and design was second to none, and the 350 GT would remain the proudest moment for several of the men behind it. Things got busy at Lamborghini as the 350 GT’s popularity grew, firmly establishing Lamborghini as a name to take seriously. Sort of makes me happy that Enzo Ferrari didn’t take Ferruccio Lamborghini seriously that one time.
5. Aventador LP 720-4 50º Roadster
Fast forward nearly half a century to the year 2013, which marked Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary. And what better way of celebrating this than to make a limited edition of the range-topping Aventador? Some design tweaks added to the uniqueness of the LP 720-4 50º, which was made 100 times as a coupe and 100 times as a roadster, each individually numbered. Power was up by 20 bhp compared to the standard Aventador LP 700-4, and 0 – 100 km/h was dealt with in three seconds. The Roadster just has that extra something to it, especially the finesse of the rear engine cover.
4. Veneno Roadster
Another roadster, but a roadster unlike any roadster ever made. The shockingly wild Veneno coupe was launched at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, and no-one could have foreseen that Lamborghini would shape this master creation into a roadster, but so they did. The location of the Veneno Roadster’s presentation was an unprecedented choice; atop an Italian aircraft carrier docked in Abu Dhabi. A true Lamborghini, the visual impact the Veneno Roadster radiates is hard to ignore, and the fact that it’s based on the Aventador makes it a useable car. Don’t expect to see its like ever again.
3. Miura SV
If you consider the Miura the best-looking car ever made, I can certainly appreciate that. Seldom has a shape suited a car like the exquisite Gandini-styled body on the ingeniously engineered Miura. Lamborghini became the act to follow after the launch of the Miura in 1966, and the Miura was in fact the car that inspired the great motoring writer LJK Setright to coin the word “supercar”. The SV (Spinto Veloce) went on stage at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, becoming the Miura’s swan song. Given a more powerful appearance than its predecessors, with widened wheels and bulging wheel arches, the SV was a no-nonsense performance car. The V12 engine produced a massive 385 bhp, and the Miura SV remained the most powerful production car from Lamborghini for 14 years.
2. Sesto Elemento
Lamborghini rewrote the book on purposeful supercar engineering with the Sesto Elemento in 2010. The extensive use of carbon fibre, both for body and moving parts, gave the Sesto Elemento its name; carbon is the sixth element of the periodic table, and if you wonder what “sixth element” is in Italian, wonder no more. Keeping weight down was paramount in the development of the Sesto Elemento, and you won’t find a dashboard inside, not even seats. Strategically placed red pads make out the shape of the seats. It’s all so beautifully simple. Where the Sesto Elemento impresses most, though, is how it, in spite of the strong focus on carbon fibre and weight saving, has the looks of the poster car for a new generation of aspiring Lamborghini enthusiasts. Spend some time exploring the Sesto Elemento, it’s time well spent.
1. Countach LP400 S
I saw this coming from the start. Nothing will ever push the Countach down from my top spot. However, I have good reason to believe that I’m far from the only one with this sentiment, and this is part of what makes the Countach the best Lamborghini ever. Without the Countach, Lamborghini would have been out of business decades ago. Through the difficult times around 1980, the Countach kept the company alive by having such a powerful effect on people that some dealers would pay in advance to have one made. And the Countach on offer at this time was the LP400 S, launched in 1978 to general praise. The clean lines of the LP400 had been replaced by racing-inspired wide wheels arches, wide wheels, distinctive rims and the optional massive rear wing. Re-inventing the Countach was a daunting task, but the result was widely acclaimed for its design and performance. For me, no Lamborghini is a better Lamborghini than the Countach LP400 S.
This article was first published on lovecars.com.