Lamborghini is known for building some of the most extreme cars to ever put tire to pavement. Unlike its Italian neighbours at Ferrari, the team at Sant’Agata didn’t build its reputation on race cars. But that doesn’t mean that the raging bull hasn’t seen the top levels of racing. And now the company has restored one of its Formula 1 racers.
In 1989, the FIA banned turbocharged engines. The massively powerful turbos made for some amazingly impressive lap times, but the engines had lifetimes that could be measured in minutes instead of races.
Flush with cash, relatively speaking at least, from its recent purchase by Chrysler, Lamborghini wanted to go to Formula 1. The Lambo V12 would run in F1 in cars from teams like Lotus and Ligier.
One of those teams was perennial also-ran Minardi. They ran well designed cars on a shoestring budget for decades and used engines from just about every source they could find. In 1992 and 1993, they ran those Lamborghini V12s, with 1993 being one of their best years ever.
Now, Lamborghini’s in-house restoration service Lamborghini Polo Storico is putting their hands on a single-seater for the very first time. With one of those LE3512 V12-powered Minardi F1 cars.
The M191B was chassis number three. On the track, it was driven by Gianni Morbidelli and Christian Fittipaldi for the first part of the 1992 season. This particular car had a top finish of 11th at that year’s Spanish Grand Prix, with Fittipaldi behind the wheel. After sitting on display at the Lamborghini museum, it was time for the restoration.
While Polo Storico wanted to keep the car as original as possible, some parts couldn’t be reused. Tires, of course, and the fuel tank, seat belts, and fire suppression system were all replaced. Time is not kind to safety gear, and that’s not the place for originality. The engine control unit is also new.
The rest of the car was restored, and that includes that 3.5L V12 screamer. It’s still able to deliver the near-700 hp of the original which means that enthusiasts can still experience the vintage sound and performance. The restored car was taken for a 20 lap run, which it completed without incident.
The Minardi was brought back to life to show off the skills of Lamborghini’s in-house restoration arm. But we’re fine with that. It looks amazing in period navy and yellow livery, and it sounds even better.