Wednesday 6th June 2012


Jet fighter inspired Lambo meet jet fighter ... and a runway

Supercars can have a strange effect on folk. It's not the easiest sell, after all, cold calling an active airfield and asking if they can lend you a runway for a couple of hours to rag a supercar around. Kind of thing that gets health and safety types clammy in their high-vis vests.


Eurofighter can do 900mph, Lambo looks like it can
Eurofighter can do 900mph, Lambo looks like it can
Unless the man with ability to say yes or no to such requests happens to be a bit of a petrolhead and overhears the conversation. Lamborghini? Runway? Why of course...

Which is how PH finds itself arriving early doors at the Imperial War Museum's Duxford airfield to rendezvous with a big orange truck containing, we're told, the only Lamborghini Reventon in the country. We're not just here for the runway, though it's a pretty appealing prospect. Reckoning the Reventon's fighter jet-influenced design would sit pretty well with ... a fighter jet, Duxford will also be providing us with some suitable context for some static photos later in the day.

Easily bought
Supercars also have a strange effect on cynical PH editors, it would seem. I'd been ready to be a little snooty about the Reventon. Pointless! Just a rebodied Murcielago with too many zeros on the price! Too big for the road! Too heavy for the track!

But when it inches out of the truck it's all I can do to stop clapping with excitement. And that's what supercars should do. Sod relevance.

Lambo's instruments influenced by fighter HUDs
Lambo's instruments influenced by fighter HUDs
The Duxford connection - and access to the runway - stems as much from auction house H&H having held sales here in the past and their man Richard Caton's persistence. The Lambo is going to be part of H&H's display at next week's Motorexpo and is up for private sale at the moment. Cost? Well, H&H has asked us to insure for a number with seven digits...

Quick Reventon re-cap first though. One of 20 - 20 Roadsters were also built - it was unveiled in 2007 with the boast of being the most extreme Lamborghini ever. Offered to 'friends and collectors' for a million euros (plus taxes), it was based on the Murcielago LP640, tickled to release another 10hp, rebodied with jet fighter-inspired carbon fibre panels and HUD-style dash graphics and, well, that's about it.

Hindsight reveals much of the styling of the Reventon has been carried over into the Aventador and, as such, it can be considered a dry run for the Murcielago's successor.

If the exterior is new-school Lambo the interior is very much old-school, parts bin switchgear a bit of a shock but offset with lashings and lashings of Alcantara and those nifty fighter-inspired displays. Figuring 6.5 litres of V12 will take some time to warm through, I fire it up and let it chunter away while I figure my way around those displays. Oil temperature gauge being one of my goals.

Reventon mixes old and new school Lambo
Reventon mixes old and new school Lambo
For all the promise of the looks the Reventon is surprisingly muted at tickover but, scissor doors open, still manages to draw a small crowd of safety personnel and other Duxford staff.

Off you go then...
I've got an hour with the runway to myself, so elect to help speed the warming-up process by going for a bit of a sighting run. Noting the unfriendly camber of the taxiway and big dip on joining the runway I short-shift my way up the runway, enjoying the HUD-style rev counter and various other gimmicks. Gear changes welly through with a big pause-clunk-lurch routine and I'm glad I took it easy on this first run, the rather abrupt end to the runway coming disturbingly quickly after a slight blind crest. I choose the Czech-built L39 trainer jet parked on the left as my braking point, an amusing novelty compared with regular braking boards.

Tentative first steps onto Duxford's tarmac
Tentative first steps onto Duxford's tarmac
There's a quick wiggle back along the return taxiway and then a squirt along the concrete apron back to where I started. And for all the outrageous looks the Reventon is surprisingly, well, docile. Like some tattooed nutcase revealing a penchant for embroidery, it's a little unsettling but I'm hoping there's more to come.

True, a quick squirt up a runway probably isn't the most exhaustive workout you could give a car but, frankly, what else are you going to do with a Reventon? The thing weighs 1,660kg dry - with a full tank and both seats occupied it's not going to be far off two tonnes - so it'll never trouble a Zonda or, frankly, spicier Gallardos for lap times or even standing starts. But that's not what this car is about. It's an event, pure and simple.

Wide open spaces are what Reventon needs
Wide open spaces are what Reventon needs
For all the carbon fibre and jet fighter screens this is a supercar of the old school, with a tubular space frame, an engine that can trace its roots back to the original Bizzarini-designed 3.5-litre from the 1963 350 GTV, no fancy dampers or electronic chassis control and an automated manual gearbox that refuses to be rushed.

With confidence building my speeds up the runway are building too, likewise the demands for a run in the passenger seat. And, as with my original preconceptions about the car, I'm enjoying myself far more than I thought I would. It doesn't feel lunatic fast - thank those kilos - but rather builds its speed incrementally and with thrilling noise and drama. It's all about the engine too - that vast V12 wouldn't look out of place in some of the 'warbirds' in the Duxford restoration hangers. Epic.

You'll be wanting to brake quite soon...
You'll be wanting to brake quite soon...
Takes some stopping then...
At an indicated 280km/h the Reventon takes some stopping, the little wiggle beyond onto the taxiway, revealing a nicely balanced shift from neutral to a smidge of oversteer under power, the front axle eventually helping to pull the car straight. (Slightly) sideways in a Reventon in the shadow of Duxford's F15. How very appropriate!

There's an awful lot of weight behind you though, as I discover with a slightly earlier application of power joining the runway. The resulting tankslapper takes about half a dozen attempts to correct - hilarious rather than scary given the amount of space, but a healthy reminder it's not entirely benign.

And then it's game over - the planes need their runway back. Not before one last run for the boss and thence to the hanger for a more relaxed photocall with Duxford's 'DA4' Eurofighter prototype. OK, not the F22 Raptor many associate the Reventon's styling with. But a pretty cool backdrop for a pretty cool car.

With thanks to IWM Duxford and H&H - see this car next week at Motorexpo

Engine: 6,496cc V12
Transmission: 6-speed automated manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 640@8,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 487@6,000rpm
0-62mph: 3.4 sec
Top speed: 211.3mph
Weight: 1,660kg (dry)
MPG: 13.2mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 495g/km
Price: 1,000,000 euros (plus taxes, new)



Author: Dan Trent