The Lamborghini Centenario Celebrates 100 Years of Obscenity
If things had gone differently, we’d be talking about the latest farm tractor right now. Instead, we’ve got the Lamborghini Centenario, a $1.9-million monument to excess built specifically to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Ferruccio Lamborghini.
This being a very special event, the Centenario is a very special car that embodies the ostentatiousness for which Lamborghini (the company, not necessarily the man) is so well known.
Now, Lamborghini made his fortune in the 1950s selling tractors. It was a brilliant business move: Postwar-Italy needed agricultural machinery. But Ferruccio also loved fine automobiles and bought his first Ferrari in 1958. He was not entirely happy with it, and offered some suggestions to Enzo Ferrari—who, the story goes, did not take kindly to being told how to build sports cars, and said as much. And so Lamborghini decided to show Il Commendatore what’s what. He bought land in Sant’Agata Bolognese, built a factory, and in 1964, introduced the iconic 350 GT. That was followed by a string of remarkable cars, including the incomparable Miura, the Countach, and, more recently, the Murcielago (OK, the Germans had taken over by then, but still…).
Now, Lamborghini the company is celebrating Lamborghini the uomo with the Centenario, an homage that focuses on the brand’s more … ostentatious work. The new supercar packs a naturally aspirated V12 engine that will produce 770 horsepower. V12 engines are known for singing like Anna Netrebko, but this one hits an even higher note, redlining at 8,600 rpm to prove that yes, your eyes can open that much wider.
Of course it’s made almost entirely of carbon fiber because, well, at this price, it damn well better be. That keeps the weight to a relatively svelte 3,350 pounds. Do the math—actually don’t, because we did—and you realize that works out to one horsepower for every 4.34 pounds. Performance is appropriately mind-boggling: you’ll hit 62 mph from a standstill in 2.8 seconds and top out somewhere north of 217 mph. The rear wheels pitch in on the steering: At low speeds, they turn in the opposite direction of the front pair, tightening the car’s turning radius. When you’re pushing the car, all four wheels turn the same way, improving stability. (This is a trick automakers have used before; most recently on the—ahem—Ferrari GTC4 Lusso.)
Subtle is never a word anyone uses to describe a Lamborghini, but even by that measure, the Centenario is over the top. All those slats and vanes and strakes make the car look like a Transformer caught in its dressing room, but also generate truckloads of downforce, to keep the wheels planted on the ground as the engine challenges the speedometer. The humongous vents in the hood use air to push down on the front axle, while the rear wing can extend up to six inches. The rear diffuser (that part of the underbody just behind the rear wheels) helps with downforce too, but it’s also for “aesthetically emphasizing the importance of aerodynamics,” whatever that means.
The Centenario is street legal, but nicely equipped for the track: It comes with carbon fiber seats, room for two helmets in the front trunk, and an option to include two interior cameras to record your sheer terror as you do your best impression of Valentino Balboni. (Why, you were planning to use something as pedestrian as a GoPro?)
All that is pretty much what you’d expect from Lamborghini given any kind of occasion to celebrate. The brand churns out special editions the way Ford makes F-150s: endlessly.
Don’t expect to get your hands on a Centenario, or even hold out hope for spotting one on the road. Lamborghini is making just 40—20 coupes, 20 convertibles—and every one of them is already sold.