In certain circles, Lamborghini has got a bum rap as the chariot of D-bags from South Beach to the Vegas Strip—over-revved beasts dipped in Day-Glo with Bobby Bottleservice in the cockpit. The vehicle’s bravado can be mistaken for vulgarity, and the low-hanging fruit is to fixate on its conspicuousness, disregarding its merits as a marvel of engineering.
At the same time, since its founding in 1963, the brand has been known for bold celebrations of beauty and power—controlled chaos—that largely spite reason and rationale. Early models such as the voluptuous Miura of the late swinging ’60s and the seductively geometric Countach of the ’70s and ’80s were touchstones of the cultural ideals of wealth, beauty and desire at the time. The brand’s two most recent models, meanwhile—the Aventador, the equivalent of a Great White with wheels, and its antagonistic little brother, the Gallardo—were case studies in overstatement: scaly, sneering and boastful, a fitting send-off to the Shock & Awe epoch.
Lamborghini’s newly unveiled Huracán LP 610-4, however, is a signal of maturation, the power of decisiveness and simplicity. During a design presentation at the New York International Auto Show, Filippo Perini, Lamborghini’s head of design, explained that, for him and his team, creating the Huracán started with a reassessment of what constitutes beauty. For inspiration, they turned to natural forms such as a nautilus shell, a sunflower and a hurricane—forms that do not exist without function. The Huracán’s profile, he explains, is a study in the proportions of the “golden ratio,” its curves an expression of the Fibonacci series.
Unlike a marble statue of Venus, though, the Huracán is meant to be at home in motion, and it is in this mash of speed and aesthetic that Perini found his greatest challenge. The work of the Italian Futurists (who coincidentally are featured in an exhibition at the Guggenheim running through the summer) became a valuable reference for Perini. He does not go so far as to completely remove all passion and chance, however, leaving in a dash of Lamborghini’s trademark rebellious adolescent streak in the form of a 610 HP V10 engine capable of over 200mph, and of going from 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds.
The ultimate goal was to design a car that was “a little more politically correct but not common,” he says, “something that remains recognizable as a Lamborghini.” It’s a difficult maneuver—hoping to attract new clients without alienating their existing base, and judging by the 1500 pre-orders Lamborghini has already received on the $237,000 Huracán, it seems like Perini may have struck the right nerve. As he walks around his lovely mutant painted in a subdued gray, he slashes his hand through the air to trace how each line of the car flows into the next. He roguishly smiles, and says, “It’s a game. It works.”