Lamborghini isn’t particularly well-known for racing so much as it is for revving loudly in front of nightclubs, so it’s easy to forget that the little company out of Sant’Agata ran a Formula 1 engine program from 1989 to 1993. It was glorious in the way only a Lambo could be.
The engine was never exactly what you’d call successful. It made decent power (particularly in its final iteration) but it was regularly unreliable. The ‘LE3512' only ever climbed to the bottom step of the podium once, despite being run in successful teams like Lotus. It blew up in at least one test with McLaren in 1993, and McLaren ended up picking Peugeot V10 power instead. (If you’re wondering why Peugeot was making F1 engines, read this story on the death of Group C.) That all pretty much killed the engine’s life.
But it sounded awesome! Let’s listen to it:
Let’s listen to it some more:
And a bit more:
And just a teensy bit more:
Here’s one of these engines firing up in a Minardi for a recent Minardi trackday out in Monza. The smoke is likely paint or oil on the headers burning off, not anything wrong with the engine itself.
Still, it’s funny to see this ultra-Italian engine engulf itself in smoke at its first cough back into life. What a joyous, wonderful failure.