How Lamborghini created the ultimate V12 track toy, the Essenza SCV12

Lamborghini's most powerful V12 yet is a rolling tribute to that iconic configuration.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
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Lamborghini Essenza SCV12
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Lamborghini Essenza SCV12

While many of us honor and revere the V12, Lamborghini has taken that love to new heights with the creation of this, the Essenza SCV12. It is Lamborghini's take on the ultimate track-day toy, a car that exists as much to celebrate an engine as to give 40 well-heeled, very lucky owners the ride of their lives.

I spoke with Lamborghini CTO Maurizio Reggiani about the genesis of the SCV12, a car that he said is "a tribute to V12." The V12 in this case is the same 6.5-liter unit found in the current Aventador S, but with some significant upgrades -- and a major repositioning.

Watch this: Lamborghini's Essenza SCV12 is the ultimate track toy

"What my team, at SC, did was take the engine, turn it around 180 degrees," Regianni told me. Yes, the engine now faces the other way, meaning the output, which drives a central differential in the all-wheel-drive Aventador, now comes out the back. "The turning of this engine allowed us to have the gearbox in the rear," Regianni continued. "It's a structural gearbox, six speed, no synchronizer."

The SCV12, then, has a six-speed sequential gearbox that drives only the rear wheels and, impressively, that gearbox acts as a stressed member of the car. The rear pushrod suspension that featured so strongly in the teaser video is mounted directly to it.

And what about the engine itself? In the Aventador SVJ, the 6.5-liter V12 makes a very healthy 759 horsepower. Here? Try 830, making it the company's most powerful naturally aspirated engine yet. And, with the onrush of forced induction and electrification, it might just stand as the most powerful ever.

Lamborghini's Essenza SCV12 is an engine and not much else

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Regianni said "what will come after Aventador will use a V12 naturally aspirated engine, [but] it will be different. It will be state of the art and coupled with a hybrid system because of the rule, the necessity to have the reduction of C02 and capacity. To have some possibility to move in full-electric will become mandatory."

No such augmentation in the SCV12, though the performance is as much about weight as power. The SCV12 weighs just 3,036 pounds, which is more than a 300 pound weight savings over the Aventador SVJ -- itself 100 pounds lighter than the Aventador S.

That savings comes thanks to extreme use of composite materials, as you'd expect, but also thanks to Lamborghini engineers doing something pretty remarkable: creating a crash structure strong enough to meet FIA regulations without the use of a metal cage.

Regianni told me this is "the first FIA monocoque for GT fully homologated for competition without metal." That's doubly impressive given the monocoque is largely the same as in the Aventador.

So, given it's up to FIA specs, will the SCV12 be turning laps in your favorite GT racing series? Not exactly. Regianni said this car was built to fulfill a "different mission" than FIA racing, but that these cars will likely hit the track as part of a one-make series. This is something Lamborghini is already quite familiar with in its Super Trofeo series, but Regianni assures me the SCV12 will be much, much faster than the Huracan GT3 Evo. "Not some tenths," he said, "seconds."

Lamborghini Essenza SCV12

This looks like a fine place to run some laps. 


For similar reasons, Lamborghini doesn't plan to set a lap time on the full Nurburgring, the place that has long-since been a benchmark for performance. Regianni told me that, since this car doesn't really fit into an established, road-going category, it'd be difficult to know what to compare it to. With the Huracan Performante's blistering lap time, that was "a way to compare us to the other." Setting a time with the SCV12 would "only confusion with your customer. And with this kind of car, it's really important for us to put the customer at the center."

And that lucky customer will find themselves at the center of a very privileged circle of attention. Given the complexity of operating a machine like the Essenza, you won't simply trailer it to your local track. Instead, owners will either have their cars included in one of Lamborghini's established events, or request a private one at a track of their choosing. Lamborghini will send a team of engineers and even a driver coach who will handle everything. Well, everything but the driving. "Our customers need only to fly in, enjoy and then fly home," Regianni said.

And what will owners do with their cars when not running at a track? "We have organized a kind of super warehouse where they can store their car in Sant'Agata," Regianni said. "They can put their baby to sleep and whenever they want to see the baby, they can call and it will arrive."

This is similar in concept to programs run by Ferrari for track-only machines like the FXX-K, but with one crucial difference: Those who really want to take their cars home will actually be allowed to do so. "We want to be different," Regianni said. "Our customer is the boss."