Listen to a Lamborghini F1 V12 Run for First Time Since 1992
The 3.5-liter V12 making almost 700 horsepower makes our toes curl even at idle.
On Thursday, Lamborghini announced the restoration of the historic Minardi-Lamborghini M191B Formula 1 car, chassis number three, which Christian Fittipaldi drove to an eleventh place finish at the 1992 Spanish Grand Prix.
The M191B was powered by the Lamborghini LE3512, a 3.5-liter V12 that made almost 700 horsepower in its 1992 guise, and later as much as 750 horsepower when it was evaluated by McLaren for use prior to the 1994 Formula 1 season. Its finest moment was propelling Aguri Suzuki's Larrousse-Lola LC90 to a third-place podium finish at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix—the very race where Ayrton Senna got revenge for Alain Prost's antics the year prior, causing a crash and winning himself the championship.
The M191B itself was developed from the M191 used for the 1991 Formula 1 season, when Minardi used another 3.5-liter V12: The Ferrari 037. It was a stopgap solution to fit the LE3512, and complete the first four Grands Prix of 1992 while the team prepared the M192. After the 1992 Spanish Grand Prix, the M191B was mothballed, and chassis no. 003 was sent to Sant'agata Bolognese for display in the Lamborghini Museum.
Late in 2017, M191B no. 003 was fished back out of the museum by Lamborghini's in-house restoration service, Polo Storico, which helps owners of Lamborghini vehicles maintain their cars, provided they are a decade or more out of production. During a seven-month period, Polo Storico replaced all the components required to safely operate the M191B again, which include the seat belts, fire suppression system, fuel tank, and engine control unit.
For the first time in more than a quarter century, the M191B cranked to life, piloted by Mirko Bortolotti, a Lamborghini factory driver, whose accomplishments include a FIA Formula 2 championship, and Blancpain GT Endurance championship wins. Present for the M191B's revival was Gian Carlo Minardi, the eponymous Formula 1 team owner.
"Seeing the models of 25 or 30 years ago is still exciting," stated Minardi in Lamborghini's release on the restoration. "They are the last cars before the beginning of telemetry and automatic transmissions. Apart from the growling noise, which still today brings back those wonderful times, it was a very flexible engine with enormous power starting from the low rpms."
Lamborghini's release also suggests that the car will return to competing in historic Grand Prix events, in which classic Formula 1 cars compete. The Drive has reached out to Lamborghini for additional information on these plans and the M191B's restoration, and we will update when we have more to share.