Lamborghini designers channel brand's past to keep supercars fresh

Lamborghini design boss Mitja Borkert smiles as he sums up the brand's design language with an anecdote.
"I bought a 1/18-scale Countach in Frankfurt, and I put it in my carry-on suitcase. One of the guys at the security screening asked 'what's that?' His colleague looked at the screen and immediately said "it's a Lamborghini!"

Borkert points out the unmistakable silhouette is a major part of what defines a Lamborghini. He gives Marcello Gandini credit for the styling cue. The talented Italian designer penned a long list of emblematic sports cars, including the Miura, the Countach, and the Lancia Stratos.

For Borkert, the Gandini line is deeply-rooted and permanent. However, he doesn't feel the least bit constrained by it.

"First of all, for me this line is written in stone. It will remain in the next 100 years, regardless of what technology we will have. I'm very sure of it. Of course, we always have to find an interpretation of that line for specific projects. When we created the Urus, we also wanted to use the line but we had to interpret it in a way that worked for that specific architecture. How we did that you will see in the future.
"The Huracán has one interpretation of the Gandini line. The Aventador is longer so we had to stretch it. You can set a lot of tension in that line, you can give it a bit more wedge. In the Centenario the rear is a little bit lower, for example.

"So, for me, this is the component we have to keep. Then, there are the design themes like doors, fenders, and what we are doing with the front and rear. That's when we apply the motto 'expect the unexpected.' We are always challenging ourselves, and always looking for something new."

The first step of the design process is to get the proportions exactly right. "If the main proportions aren't right, you will never be able to catch up with the design," he notes. And while most people assume modern-day designers start sketching on advanced CAD software, a Lamborghini still comes to life the old-fashioned way: with a pencil and a sheet of paper.

Once the proportions are locked in, Borkert and his team of young, spirited designers begin adding secondary styling cues like character lines, angles, and creases. The last part of the process is when designers pencil in the final details such as vents, moldings, emblems, and miscellaneous trim pieces. Heritage plays a large role there, too.

The hexagon is another one of the defining features that characterize a Lamborghini. It first appeared on the lower part of the Miura's rear end, and later on the Marzal concept's dashboard. Borkert explains it likely traces its roots to graphic design trends of the 1960s.

Cutting the hexagon in half creates a Y, a shape commonly found on the brand's cars. Diagonal lines on both ends add a muscular touch to the look – they're what gives a Lamborghini that inimitable menacing expression when you see it approaching in your rear-view mirror. Finally, a peak on the front fascia represents another visual link to the Miura.

It's important for current and upcoming Lamborghini models to respect their elders and pay tribute to their predecessors. However, enthusiasts patiently waiting for a full-on retro-styled model like the Miura concept from 2006 are out of luck.

"We must always do the next step. The design has to be innovative. We take some inspiration from the past and do it in a new way, but we should never do a Lamborghini 2.0. That's not us."

Switching gears, we turned our attention to the Huracán Performante, the newest and fastest Raging Bull. We asked Borkert to tell us about its best design feature.

"It's the general impression of the car. I ride a motorcycle, I'm a big fan of sport motorcycles. When I look at the Performante, I see more than a car; I see something like a motorcycle. For example, the black rocker panels are like the fenders on a sport motorcycle. Then we have the exhaust pipes, which are mounted higher up than on the standard car. On some motorcycles the exhaust is located right under the seat.

"The bronze wheels are inspired by the ones on the Ducati Panigale. But there's a link to the past, because the Diablo GT's valve covers were bronze. For me, it is the sum of all these elements that create the Performante's cool impression. It's the complete package. At the moment, it's my dream car."

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