There is arguably no automaker on Earth who is as capable of stirring emotions as Lamborghini. With the brand’s wild flamboyant styling, its beastly performance, and its unmatched ability to garner attention, Lamborghini has defined what it means to be a supercar for more than half a century. The company has produced a number of exquisite and legendary vehicles since its founding in Italy in 1963, but which of them qualify as the best Lamborghinis of all time?
People have a lot of opinions on Lamborghini. Unlike rival Ferrari, which seems to be universally loved, Lambo tends to divide opinions. There are those — like us — who believe the brand’s ability to craft high-performing and distinct automotive works of art is unmatched, and who rank Lamborghini as one of the most impressive and important automakers of all time. But then there are others who dismiss the brand as needlessly showboaty and appealing only to those with an abundance of money and a dearth of taste. But however you feel about Lamborghini, there is no denying that the brand is a major player in the supercar space, and the 15 cars in this list all do a fine job of showing why that is.
It Began With A Tractor
Lamborghini’s founder was an Italian man named Ferruccio Lamborghini, and he was not a carmaker, at least not initially. He was a tractor-builder, and he founded his eponymous tractor company, Lamborghini Trattori, in 1948. A skilled entrepreneur and builder, Lamborghini’s tractor company grew at a rapid pace throughout the 1950s, becoming a bit of a powerhouse in the industry and making the company’s owner a wealthy man. Like many wealthy men, Lamborghini developed a taste for sports cars and began collecting them. He’s known to have owned nearly every significant European sports car of the era, like the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, Jaguar E-Type, and several Ferrari 250 GTs. And it was the latter car that inspired the tractor-builder to focus his attention on sports cars.
Lamborghini had some trouble with the clutch in his various 250 GTs. Like, a lot of trouble. So much trouble, in fact, that he was constantly making trips to see Ferrari in Maranello to get them repaired. Eventually, Lamborghini became so frustrated with his Ferraris that he decided to go to the source and complain. As the story goes, Lamborghini secured a meeting with Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, where he told him, essentially, that his cars were garbage and he should make them better. Ferrari more or less told Lamborghini that he knew nothing about cars and should stick to tractors, which naturally caused such a tremendous annoyance to Signor Lamborghini that he decided he would create his own sports car that would be better than a Ferrari. And just like that, one of the greatest automotive rivalries of all time was born.
Inventing The Supercar
The Dawn Of A New Era
The new company launched its first car, the 350 GT, in 1964. A two-door coupe with a custom-built Giotto Bizzarrini-designed 3.5L V12 that was specifically engineered to outperform the Ferrari engines of the day, the 350 GT was well-received. As were its successors, the beefier-engined 400 GT and larger 400 GT 2+2. All were considered solid Italian sports cars, but none were what you would call revolutionary. No, that sort of language would be reserved for Lamborghini’s next car: the Miura.
Unveiled in 1966, the Lamborghini Miura was quite unlike any car that had come before it. Still arguably the most beautiful car ever made, its flowing Marcello Gandini-penned lines looked far more impressive than anything else on the road, but it was its performance that truly stood out. Breaking the mold of front-engined sports cars that were common at the time, the Miura became the first performance-oriented road car to utilize a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout for its 3.9L V12. Its combination of exotic styling and groundbreaking performance created a new segment in the world of automobiles: the supercar. And while the Miura may have been the world’s first supercar, it shockingly didn’t form the template for what Lamborghini would ultimately become.
When it came time to replace the Miura in the early ‘70s, Lamborghini again turned to Gandini for the design of their next supercar. But rather than going for a stylistic evolution of the curvy Miura, Gandini started from scratch and came up with the wildest road car anyone had ever seen. The Countach, with its outrageous trapezoidal wedge design, scissor doors, and blistering performance from its 5.0L mid-mounted V12 engine, reinvented what a supercar could be, just a few years after the genre was established with the Miura. Every Lamborghini sports car since the Countach has been a direct descendant of the car, and it remains the most definitive example of the supercar archetype to this day.
Judging from all of the outrageous cars that would follow, it’s hard to view the simple 350 GT as a Lamborghini today. And yet, the car remains tremendously important, as there would be no brand without it. The very first Lamborghini production car, the 350 GT accomplished exactly what it set out to do as a legitimate competitor to the Ferraris of the day. One could even argue that without this car lighting a fire under their tailpipe, Ferrari would not be what it is today either, meaning we can probably credit the 350 GT with giving us two great Italian automakers.
Years Produced: 1964-1966
Engine: 3.5L V12
The Aventador is Lamborghini’s current V12, wedge-shaped, scissor-doored flagship and the latest evolution of the Countach design. With an 11-year production run, it’s tied with the Diablo as the second longest-running Lambo model ever following the Countach (16 years), and will almost certainly be the brand’s final naturally-aspirated V12 car as the company moves to hybrid and electric powertrains in the future. Thus, the Aventador is truly the end of an era, and its outrageous performance and killer angular styling are making sure that said era ends on a high note.
Years Produced: 2011-Present
Engine: 6.5L V12
There is arguably no single car in history that has had more of an impact on the brand that produced it than the Countach. When it debuted in 1974, the car looked like it came from some far-flung (and awesome) future, and its out-of-this-world styling would go on to form the basis for every Lamborghini that followed — a tradition that continues to this day. 50 years after the original concept was unveiled, the Countach remains the definitive Lamborghini, the ultimate dream supercar, and the most poster-perfect vehicle ever created. It is, quite simply, an icon.
Years Produced: 1974-1990
Engine: 4.0L, 5.0L, or 5.2L V12
As the successor to the Countach following a legendary 16-year production run, the Diablo had a tough road ahead of it. And while initial reactions to the car were somewhat mixed, due in part to a compromised design that led to Gandini leaving the project before it was completed, it ultimately grew into its own to become one of the greatest supercars of the 1990s. The Diablo changed a lot during its 11-year run, which encompassed the entirety of the ‘90s, but one thing that never changed was its reputation as a 200-mph head-turning exotic.
Years Produced: 1990-2001
Engine: 5.7L or 6.0L V12
Lamborghini admittedly is not known as a producer of GT cars, but that’s exactly what the Espada was — and it was a good one too. Largely forgotten today, this odd-looking grand tourer was actually quite successful, with over 1,200 units made in a production run lasting ten years. A roomy 2+2 with a front-engine V12/RWD layout, the Espada is known for its highly unusual Gandini-designed body with its elongated, glass panel-adorned rear end. It’s an odd duck for sure, but one that is undeniably cool due to how different it dared to be.
Years Produced: 1968-1978
Engine: 3.9L V12
During the runs of the brand’s initial V12 thoroughbreds, the Miura and the Countach, Lamborghini had entire lineups of cheaper cars to complement their flagships. The Miura had the Espada and the sporty Isdera and Jarama, while the Countach had a series of “entry-level” compatriots in the Urraco, Silhouette, and Jalpa — plus the LM002 SUV. But due to financial troubles, Lamborghini’s lineup was reduced to a single car: the Diablo. And, later, it was the Murciélago. Then, finally, the Gallardo arrived on the scene as a cheaper alternative to the Murciélago, and the results spoke for themselves. The mid-engined V10 wedge had supercar-level performance and trademark Lambo looks. It was a smash hit, eventually becoming the best-selling Lamborghini of all time (until its record was broken by its successor, the Huracán).
Years Produced: 2003-2013
Engine: 5.0L or 5.2L V10
Speaking of the Gallardo’s successor, here it is. The Huracán took everything that was great about the Gallardo — mid-engine layout, screaming V10 engine, mini Countach-derived looks — and dialed them up to 11. More extreme, faster, and better in every way, the Huracán is notable for even outperforming the Aventador in some guises, something the Gallardo could never do against the Murciélago. The little Lamborghini is one of the best-performing cars one can currently buy from any automaker, and the fact that it’s an “entry-level” model is absolutely bonkers.
Years Produced: 2014-Present
Engine: 5.2L V10
Is the Jalpa the most underrated Lamborghini ever? It’s entirely possible. This was a Bertone-designed ‘80s wedge with a mid-mounted V8 that could be kitted out to look, more or less, like a miniature Countach, but for a lot less money. It was also, by most accounts, a better car to drive than the unwieldy Countach, with better manners and superior visibility. Plus, it was no slouch in the speed department, either. Despite being fairly successful and having a co-starring role in Rocky IV, AKA the greatest Rocky movie (fight us), the Jalpa is yet another forgotten Lambo. We say it’s time to give it the respect it deserves.
Years Produced: 1981-1988
Engine: 3.5L V8
Moving from one Sylvester Stallone character to another, we have Lamborghini’s first SUV, affectionately referred to as the “Rambo Lambo.” It is, without question, the coolest SUV ever made, and anyone who tries to argue otherwise is telling tales out of school. Born in the ‘80s, the 4×4 had the radical angular styling that Lamborghini had become known for, along with the same massive V12 engine that powered the Countach under its hood. It was exactly what a Lamborghini SUV should be: powerful, exotic, and ridiculously over the top.
Years Produced: 1986-1993
Engine: 5.2L V12
Even more so than the Countach, the Miura holds a hallowed place in the history of Lamborghini. Not only because it’s credited with inventing the supercar concept, but because it’s such an aberration. The Countach recreated Lamborghini in its own image, charting a new path forward with its crazy design language. The Miura, quite simply, did not. There’s never been another Lamborghini that looks anything like the Miura, and it stands alone as an almost-perfect example of automotive design. This is what a car looks like when it has been sculpted to its most ideal form, and the result is as breathtaking now as it was 55 years ago.
Years Produced: 1966-1972
Engine: 3.9L V12
The successor to the Diablo represented a major transitional period for Lamborghini. As the first model produced by new owner Audi (by way of parent company Volkswagen), the Murciélago sat at the nexus of traditional and modern. The 2000s flagship looked to the future with its all-wheel-drive layout and the introduction of paddle shifters to the brand, but it also kept one foot in the past as the last Lamborghini model to use the vaunted “Lamborghini V12,” an engine that had been in continuous production in various forms since the 350 GT. The Murciélago both rescued and modernized Lamborghini, but it did so without forgetting where it came from — a lesson that continues to influence the brand today.
Years Produced: 2001-2010
Engine: 6.2L or 6.5L V12
Sián FKP 37
It may seem hard to believe that Lamborghini, purveyor of bone-rattling V12 engines for the better part of the last six decades, will someday soon be an all-electric automaker. But that’s the way the industry is moving these days, so you might as well get used to it now. Thankfully, the Sián makes that future seem pretty spectacular. Based on the Aventador, the Sián is Lamborghini’s first hybrid, combining its 6.5L naturally-aspirated V12 engine with a 48V electric motor. Sure, that barely qualifies it as a hybrid, but the extra boost from the e-motor is enough to make the Sián the most powerful production road-going Lamborghini ever.
Years Produced: 2020
Engine: 6.5L V12 Hybrid with 48V Supercapacitor
A year after the Miura transformed the industry, Ferrari launched their own mid-engined road car. But they didn’t call it a Ferrari. Instead, it was the first Dino, and its charming looks and mid-engine V6 layout made it a quick success. Never one to sit on their laurels when Ferrari was making moves, Lamborghini quickly decided they needed a competitor for the Dino, and the Urraco is what they came up with. Another Gandini design, the Urraco’s wedge shape foretold the coming of the Countach, and its mid-engine V8 gave it a bit more “oomph” than what Maranello was putting out.
Years Produced: 1973-1979
Engine: 2.0L, 2.5L, or 3.0L V8
While purists may scoff at this pick, there is no denying the impact that the Urus has had on Lamborghini. Despite debuting just three years ago for the 2018 model year, the Urus is already the best-selling Lamborghini ever, having easily raced past the Huracán’s record. That popularity alone makes it worthy of inclusion on this list, as its success will help fund other cool projects (read: insane hypercars) from the brand. Plus, it’s not like the Urus is sullying the brand’s SUV-free history (that’s for Ferrari’s future SUV to do), as Lamborghini already played in that sandbox to great effect with the LM002.
Years Produced: 2018-Present
Engine: Twin Turbo 4.0L V8
Lambo has churned out a number of reskinned Aventadors over the past decade, to the point where it’s become a bit of a running joke. Not counting the Sián, as its status as the brand’s first hybrid puts it on a separate plane, Lamborghini has used the Aventador as a base for the new Countach, the Centenario, and the Essenza SCV12, but the Veneno stands out among them. Created to celebrate Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary, it may be the ultimate expression of the brand. Its styling is the most over-the-top the company has ever done, its $4 million price made it the most expensive Lamborghini ever, and just 12 examples were sold. It’s ridiculous in ways that only Lamborghini is capable of producing.
Years Produced: 2013-2014
Engine: 6.5L V12
The 15 Best Ferraris Of All Time
Now that you’ve seen the best Lamborghinis ever made, it’s time to have a look at the greatest cars from their biggest rival, Ferrari. We’ve put together a guide to the 15 best Ferraris ever, so take a look and see how the Prancing Horse stacks up against the Raging Bull.
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