Maurizio Reggiani talks about racing, forced induction and Lamborghini V12s
Maurizio Reggiani deserves its own chapter in Lamborghini history.
He joined the Italian company in 1995 and became technical director in 2006; He notably led the development of some of Lamborghini’s most modern engines, including the 6.5 liter V12 powering Aventador. His time as head of Lamborghini’s research and development ended earlier in 2022 and he is currently vice president of Lamborghini. sports car racing. His successor, Rouven Mohr, was tasked with implementing an ambitious and far-reaching electrification strategy called Direzione Cor Tauri and outlined in 2021.
As Lamborghini prepares to enter a new era, I sat down with Reggiani for a behind-the-scenes look at nearly 30 years of V12 development.
[The following has been edited for clarity.]
RG: Lamborghini made other engines and other companies made V12s. Why are V12 engines often associated with Lamborghinis?
HE: In a time when people are starting to talk about downsizing and reducing cylinder numbers, we continue to say that the V12 is the flagship of the super sports car. We were born with this: Lamborghini has produced V12 engines in every year of its history. For example, we also produced V8s in Jalpa’s day, but V12s have always been the mainstay of this company. If you want to be considered the pinnacle of super sports cars, no other engine really speaks to purists like the naturally aspirated V12. In terms of power, in terms of sound, in emotion, and in terms of, let me say, the greatest engine possible in terms of technical definition.
RG: What outstanding projects have you had during your time as head of Lamborghini’s R&D department?
HE: When I started my career, 40 years ago at Maserati, I worked in engine development. At Bugatti, I am responsible for the powertrain, including the engine, of course. To me, motivation is like a first love, and you will love it for life. Looking at the engine, looking inside, discussing the ingredients, giving opinions and making suggestions is my way of doing things all the time.
One of the projects that excites me the most is Diablo GT. For the first time, we decided to put a single throttle on each cylinder, and it was a level of sophistication that Lamborghini had never used before. You learn from the past and try to apply it [the present]. This has improved performance a lot and it’s really fun. The Aventador’s engine is another standout: it was designed in conjunction with the Aventador. It’s a complete new carWe started from scratch and you can imagine how much fun that was.
RG: You did join the race V10; why not race a V12?
HE: We had a big discussion about this when we first started racing. We originally launched the series once in 2009 and after that, we decided to join in GT3 . series, and the main point of the discussion is that in every GT related competition you have a tradeoff in performance. It doesn’t make sense to look at the weight and packaging of the V12 if after you need to put a limiter that greatly affects performance. We decided the best compromise to balance performance was the V10. In the end, you need to have an engine that even with the balance of performance you’re close to reaching full power. If you use a high power motor and you turn its efficiency limit to a lower level [of the graph]you cannot compete.
RG: Was adding forced induction, whether it’s a turbocharger or a supercharger, ever considered?
HE: We never [used forced induction] because our vision is that the sound of the V12, the frequency of the V12, cannot be done with a turbo. Obviously, you have so many filters in your exhaust these days that the sound is muffled. Those are the new rules coming from California, where you must not exceed a certain decibel during the test. Years ago, it was just default [driving] method; now in all modes you need to stay below a certain level. It is important to maintain the frequency of the sound.
Also, strength, let me say, enough. We hit 350 kilometers per hour (about 217 miles per hour) with Aventador SVJ. We pay more attention to the power usage and the shape of the torque curve as we are sure that this is what the customer asked for. We wanted to give V12 a response as close as possible to motorcycle. On a motorcycle, when you turn the accelerator, you get the impression that the engine can catch 10,000 rpm *snapshot* like this. In a V12, being a big engine, the enemy is able to move up and down [the rev range] as fast as possible. This depends a lot on the weight of the pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft and of course the electronics. You need to tweak things as much as you can and what gives this feeling is the sound you hear.
RG: I told you about carbon fiber connecting rod in 2016. What happened to that project?
HE: Sections were taken in Seattle, at the University of Washington. The complexity of the materials used, the need for metal inside, and the difficulty of screwing the connecting rods because you need to put an insert inside them [were issues]. And, then you get stretched. We’ve built a prototype and tested it, but it’s still at research level. We have several examples of development work in action, but in the end every time you need to do a decision sheet where you decide the economy, reliability, reproducibility and cost and What we do in R&D cannot reach production all the time.
RG: What should we expect from Next V12?
HE: The V12 engine is part of Lamborghini’s DNA. We’ve announced the successor to the Aventador will keep the naturally aspirated V12, even though it’s an all-new V12 compared to what we have today. We use this new engine to correct some possibly weight related and possibly RPM related characteristics for best thermal dynamics along with mixture system.