The Lamborghini-Engined Gullwing Minivan

Illustration for article titled The Lamborghini-Engined Gullwing Minivan

A 455-hp V-12 from the Countach Quattrovalvole? A pair of gullwing doors? Minivans may be more boring than watching paint dry, but every rule has an exception. This is it.

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It is easy to view Lamborghini as nothing more than the quintessential Italian supercar manufacturer, a Ferrari for people in tracksuits with a penchant for cocaine and Day-Glo colors. That couldn't be further from the truth. Even though a certain Lamborghini pioneered the notion of the modern supercar, Ferruccio Lamborghini’s vision was never centered on sports cars — he set out to build grand tourers. His cars were the antithesis of the race-derived Ferrari lineup; they were cars with big engines that could get you places in great speed but, crucially, also in greater comfort. Witness the Espada, a 40-year-old two-plus-two that can fit a 6' 2" human in the back without causing skeletal damage.

Illustration for article titled The Lamborghini-Engined Gullwing Minivan
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With that in mind, consider the Genesis concept from 1988, built by Bertone for Lamborghini. The engine is the 5.2-liter V12 from the Countach Quattrovalvole. It makes 455 sweet-revving Italian horsepower, and it is longitudinally mounted in the front with the front seats somewhat over it, eliminating the need for wimpy seat heaters. Because the Genesis was from Lamborghini’s Chrysler era, the transmission is a wonderful three-speed TorqueFlite automatic, a natural fit for an Italian V-12.

Illustration for article titled The Lamborghini-Engined Gullwing Minivan

Inside, access to which is gained by a pair of fantastic gullwing doors and another pair of sliding doors, is a red and beige lounge of Alcantara with five seats that can be moved about, leaving the driver free from his children or rear-seat passengers and left alone to wrestle with the engine's thrust.

Unfortunately, the Genesis never made it beyond the concept stage. It was fourteen years later that Matra, a French maker of race cars and surface-to-air missiles, borrowed concept to create the Avantime, albeit with half the number of cylinders to warm the front seats.

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Illustration for article titled The Lamborghini-Engined Gullwing Minivan
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Photo Credit: Bertone, Car Design News, Ian-Alexander/Flickr

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DISCUSSION

ok so a quick Italian mini van story, it's rare that the topic comes up so I have to take advantage.

It's 1998 and I am at the De Tomaso factory in Modena. My family had owned a troublesome Deauville back in the day, so we had an interest in a tour and seeing the factory. Sadly there were no tours. Indeed, not much of anything was going on there. A few factory workers were mulling about but De Tomaso days were already numbered. There was no tour, no new cars, and not much to see. Or at least that's what we first thought. The hot receptionist, Christina, took some pity on us. "There is one thing you might enjoy seeing", she says, "Why don't you follow me." I would have followed her anywhere, but I digress.

We followed her into a generic warehouse. It's dark and dusty. Hot Christina turns on the florescent lights and they start to blink on one after another. I soon realize I am in for a treat. The room is filled with about 30 cars all covered with tarps. "This is Alejandro de Tomaso personal collection" she says, "there is something in here for everyone." She then starts walking down the row, pulling each tarp off, one by one, revealing one fantastic motor car after another. Might have been the hottest thing I ever saw.

The collection was as incredible as it was bizarre. Everything from a model t to a Daihatsu Charade De Tomaso. There were Mustangs, Porches, and a beautiful dark green 1971 boat tailed Buick Rivera. (Apparently, Alejandro liked his cars like his receptionists, with back.) Hot Christina unveiled all the cars but one. She left the last car covered, as if she was ashamed to reveal it. It was clear from the shape that it was a minivan of some sort.

"What's under the tarp?", I asked. "It just a minivan" she replied, "nothing special, if you want to see, you can see." "Sure" I replied and Hot Christina reluctantly pulled back the tarp to reveal a first generation Dodge Caravan, in Ferrari Red, with the stance of something truly sinister. It was low and wide, a Frankenstein minivan, with the widest tires I have ever seen on a minivan. This was no ordinary Caravan, this was a badass motherf*cker van. "What is it?", I asked dumbfounded.

The lovely Hot Christina replied matter of factly, "de Tomaso liked the minivan but he wanted it to go faster. It goes faster now."