Maurizio Reggiani is father of the Super Veloce Jota Roadster, the most outrageous yet usable V12 Lamborghini road car ever, a glorious flourish in the closing days of the Decade of the Aventador.
Reggiani has been at Lamborghini for 22 years, starting as project leader on the V12 Murciélago in 1998, the car that defined Lamborghini in the 2000s. Aventador and Huracán are Reggiani’s children, two vehicles that have far surpassed the engineering dreams of Ferrucchio Lamborghini, carrying the brand to sales records and commercial viability. As one hopes with an Italian firm, Reggiani began as an engine man, first at Maserati and then at Bugatti with the EB110. Reggiani’s SVJ has the sort of yowling engine only an Italian would create, Titanium bits and improved breathing giving this 6.5-liter V12 a 30-horsepower jump on the already inspiring Aventador S, to 770 horsepower.
But in Super Veloce Jota, the story is not an engine coaxed to deliver yet more power. Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva(ALA) is the critical and most visible element, an aero concept pioneered in the Huracán Performante. Yes, it’s addenda, a system of neatly integrated and readily comprehensible winglets, splitter, and nostrils with adjustable vents in the front bodywork and vortex generators along the belly.
But the magic is out back, where a surgically implanted system of inlets and valves shoots air to the center support of the carbon-fiber rear wing. Electro-mechanical valves pop open or shut to tailor airflow around the wing. It’s a left-right system just like on the Huracán Performante, increasing or reducing downforce on the left or right rear tire to suit cornering needs, or reducing drag in a straight line to let SVJ sail more smoothly at ultra-high speeds. Valve actuation is managed by an algorithm that interprets all the data gathered by the stability control system and its many black boxes.
In Aventador’s V12 hybrid gas-electric successor the aero engineering at the rear might be more tidily integrated into the structure and exterior shape as it is on SVJ’s nose, but if a Lamborghini cannot have an outrageous rear wing, the end of the world is near.
ALA works, brilliantly so. When the SVJ coupe was unveiled at Pebble Beach 18 months ago, it had established a lap record at the Nürburgring, something the Aventador S with its less radical approach to aero simply could not have achieved. ALA allows the car to attack corners more aggressively and thus carry more speed onto straights, where that fabulous engine can do its business. ALA also helps maximize braking potential from high speeds, pressing the tires firmly into the pavement. ALA helps SVJ compress time.
The Nürburgring record surprised many in the sports car world, including other engineers in the VW Group, but it was an interesting and ballsy way to herald Lamborghini’s engineering maturation, to show there’s something more to the brand than monstrous engines that sing a pornographic song, wild body architecture, and those kinky scissor doors that have been a brand signature since the original Countach of 1974. CEO Stefano Domenicali is the last man to carry Scuderia Ferrari to a world championship, and his passion for advanced engineering is evident.
If there is a challenge for all hypercars, it’s that they have succeeded beyond expectations anyone my age dreamed of 30, 40 or 50 years ago. They are so fast, so quick, and so capable that few public roads can serve as playground to explore full potential. Think F-22 Raptor on the deck weaving through pylons at the Reno Air Races instead of hitting Mach 1 at 20,000 feet. Buy one of the 800 SVJ Roadsters to be built and take it to the Concours Club in Miami or Thermal outside Palm Springs to experience capability. Or rent a private airstrip for acceleration runs followed with deep braking.
On a mountain road, one must play sniper, turning the car loose for specific well-known sequences of corners, or airing it out on long, clear straights that spear through high-mountain meadows and pastures. Long highway onramps become the most entertaining, engine and single-plate gearbox delivering walloping hard hits to the spine and shoulders with each shift. Brace yourself for full-throttle upshifts because the hit to the back can feel like a well-executed and aggressive tackle. SVJ accelerating at full throttle and high revs is the definition of visceral. You feel the sound in your torso.
At the Super Veloce Jota unveiling at Pebble Beach in 2018, CEO Stefano Domenicali told me that the successor would most likely be a gas-electric hybrid, and that a V12 would always be part of the Lamborghini brand. Lamborghini has the leading role in carbon-fiber development in the VW Group. The only real question is whether that carbon-fiber supercar will have a single electric motor sandwiched between engine and gearbox to deliver instant torque, or if the Aventador’s entire Haldex mechanical 4-wheel drive system will be replaced with two electric motors up front, as we see in Ferrari’s Stradale and the Acura NSX.
Reggiani is a few years older than I so it’s safe to conclude Aventador SVJ’s successor and its first series of evolutions will be his final V12 cars before retirement. I cannot think of anyone on the planet better able to deliver.