About 20 years ago, my wife and I visited Japan on behalf of a travel magazine. We explored the area around rural Kyushu, Japan’s Polish joke. Back then, Japanese travel was still a little adventuresome. And it was hard to scope out Japanese customs in these hinterlands. After a couple of mornings at Japanese inns, we realized that we were the only guests who didn’t breakfast in our bathrobes (kimonos). The next day we came down naked as Britney under our bathrobes. For reasons I never discerned, everybody else was dressed in suits. Lamborghini must have felt the same way at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
You may have noticed that Germany’s international exposition of automotive excellence is now greener than Kermit the Frog. Mercedes is showing a 1.8-liter four in a luxocar. There’s electricity in the air waiting for a new generation of plug-ins. The Japanese have every form of hybrid imaginable. Even Porsche, while girding itself for a fight against new, more stringent EU CO2 legislation, is hyping hybrid Cayennes. And Lamborghini shows up with a nine-mpg supercar.
The Reventón is a 12-cylinder, 650-hp supercar named after a bull famous for goring Felix Guzman to death. (I could have sworn I’ve seen Guzman in The Sopranos, but the “real” Reventón shanked Guzman in 1943.) Worse, Lamborghini has the stones to price the Reventón at a cool one million euros (that’s $1.4m to you and me). I mean, what was the marketing meeting like?
“So what should we charge for this pig? After all, it may be the world’s last stupidcar…”
“How about billion euros?”
“Yeah, that’s the ticket, a billion.”
“Did you hear the one about the guy who told George Bush that 185 Brazilians died in a plane crash? Bush says, ‘Remind me again, how many is a brazilian?’”
“Okay, very funny, but a billion is a little high. How about we make it a million?"
Appealing straight to the collector market, Lamborghini announced that it will only make 20 Reventóns– which makes the German-owned Italian model the stupid-rich version of the Indy pace-car limited edition of a Malibu.
An hour and a half ago, $450k was the price of admission to the ultra-exclusive 200mph+ supercar club (e.g. Porsche Carrera GT, Mercedes McLaren). The equally German-owned Bugatti Veyron changed that in a hurry. At least Audi’s other supercar has as many turbochargers as it has wheels, boasts the production car world’s only four-digit horsepower number and you have to change into your land-speed-record tires every time you want to show off (and clean underwear afterward).
The Reventón has less horsepower than a Saleen and acceleration and top speed identical to a Murcielago LP640. Which reminds me: all you suckers who bought a Murcielago at full whack– who probably paid $600 for your iPhone– are now driving the car Lamborghini refers to as “the base model.” The good news (for someone) is that the new Reventón costs four times as much as Lambo’s base model (or 3500 times as much as an iPhone).
And you get a G-meter. “The G-Force-Meter is completely new,” trumpets Lamborghini’s press material, sounding a bit like the Soviets’ claim to have invented the telephone. “This display shows the dynamic drive forces, longitudinal acceleration during acceleration and braking as well as transversal acceleration around bends…. A similar instrument can be found in airplanes.”
Well, yes, but it didn’t costs me a million euros to install one in my aerobatic Falco; more like a couple hun.
Everything about the Reventón is, like the accelerometer, described in the greatest possible number of words, as though each one is worth 50,000 euros. “The instrument on the left of the speedometer associates the number of revolutions in the form of a luminous column with a display of the selected gear.” The designers’ “love for detail is beautifully illustrated by the fuel tank lid [Italian for gas cap]: a small mechanical work of art, achieved by milling a solid aluminum block.” Incredible! The miracle of milling!
“Another technical innovation is found in the rear light LEDs. Because of high temperature in the rear low part of the car, special heatproof LEDs are used for the indicator and hazard lights, stoplights and rear lights with a triple arrow optical effect.” Isn’t it amazing what a million euros will buy you? High-quality LEDs (there’s $150 right there) plus UPS-truck turn signals. I love this stuff.
What you’re really getting for your brazillion euros: an IP utilizing TFT-display tech “just like in modern airplanes (and some high-end laptops).” So here we [may] have 20 people dumb enough to pay $1.4m for a Lambo, driving around staring at their in-living-color instrument clusters. Or not. After all, who would actually drive one of these things? You could end up like Felix Guzman.