You can make a strong argument that because some of the cars that bear his name today have been so outrageously over the top, Ferruccio Lamborghini has never received the full measure of respect he deserves for simply daring to muscle in on the rarified world of Italian performance that Enzo Ferrari and the Maserati brothers had heretofore had to themselves. If nothing else, Lamborghini, the man, firmly believed in going big, and while Lamborghini cars have only recently acquired a pureblood competition grounding, the founder insisted that regardless, they’d been equal players when it came to mega-dollar exotics. Lamborghini commissioned Giotto Bizzarrini, a guy who also had a major hand in creating the Iso Rivolta GT coupe, to design a proprietary V-12 when Lamborghini was creating its first luxury exotic, the 350 GT, which appeared in 1963.
The engine that Bizzarini designed turns 60 this year. It was a 60-degree V-12 with dual overhead camshafts above each cylinder bank, first displacing 3.5 liters and rated at a robust 320 horsepower when it appeared in the 350 GT, which was the last conventional car the company ever built. From that point, the V-12 grew bigger as its was transplanted into increasingly outrageous sports car, first the Miura with its wildly unique transverse mid-engine powertrain layout that combined the engine and transaxle into a single unit, and then the even more radical Countach, whose only normal attribute was that the driveline was laid out longitudinally. The original Lamborghini V-12 ballooned in displacement to 6.7 liters, its output swelled to 670 for its duty in the Murciélago Super Veloce that debuted after 2001. Lamborghini’s current supercar, the Aventador, debuted a new-generation V-12, a clean-sheet design, which currently produces up to 770 horsepower, easily propelling the SVJ variant to 60 in about 2.5 seconds.