Inside an exclusive Lamborghini owners' club
We spend a day with Aventador owners at Imola’s Formula One track, and learn why you can’t stereotype a Lambo owner.Damien Reid September 29, 2015
Sitting around a dinner table one night, a group of reasonably well-dressed men and women were enjoying a classic Bolognese meal in a hotel restaurant.
The group had only met a few hours earlier while being herded into shuttle buses to visit the Lamborghini factory and museum and it was a fairly typical tourist package for a bunch of holiday-makers in Italy.
There was one significant exception, almost everyone around the table was the owner of a Lamborghini and, more specifically, its flagship supercar the Aventador.
Yet simply being a fan boy was not enough to get a ticket to this dinner table. No, to earn yourself a table setting you needed to either own one of the 350kmh, AED 1,500,000, 6.5-litre V12 rockets, or you were seriously in the market to buy one – or preferably both of those things, because you can never have too many Lamborghinis, right?
Some guests brought their partners, others brought their car-mad siblings and some even brought their local dealer, such is the relationship you have at this level with your car salesman.
Sipping fine wine and eating at the primo Italian restaurant in Bologna the night before spending a day thrashing V12 Lamborghinis around a Formula One Grand Prix track is the sort of treatment you get when you mix in these circles. So the AED 15,000 price for access to the Lamborghini Squadra Corsa events, and this particular Esperienza Imola, seemed like more than a good deal.
I’d often wondered what sort of person buys a Lamborghini and who, on a whim, will buy another Lamborghini because the wine was just right.
“But you’ve seen the new Huracan haven’t you?” I hear from across the table.
“Yes and I was thinking of having a closer look tomorrow,” says one man carelessly stirring his post-meal espresso.
“You must. I’m surprised you haven’t ordered one already!” exclaims another without a hint of jest in his voice.
Before the first man concedes: “Well I was going to, but… Okay, put me down for one.”
I can’t confirm if the AED 900,000 deal went through or not, but if it was a joke, then it was in the same vane as making an offer he couldn’t refuse over a robust Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon.
The gent in question’s offshore oil and gas business has allowed him the means to purchase a new Lamborghini each year to stay ahead of the trend. A sturdy man with the build of someone who has spent the best part of his working life outdoors was like your local builder or plumber, amiable and a straight talker. You’d never know he also has a few Aston Martins, a Rolls-Royce and a Ferrari as well.
Following much pleasant back and forth, talk turned to flights home the next afternoon and who was staying on for an extra night. One on our table was dreading the thought of Heathrow rush hour after landing and the baggage queues, immigration and all those annoyances after you step off your business-class flight.
“Come with me, I’ll drop you home,” the sharp-dressed, fast-talking businessman said.
“Though you’ll have to come to Wales first as we can’t really divert to Heathrow, but sure, we’d love to have you on board.” The self-made billionaire might as well have been talking about a lift in one of his Bentleys or Phantoms, not his Gulfstream G6.
Quietly observing this, I was finding it hard to piece together a stereotype of the modern day Lamborghini owner. Unlike other Italian supercar owners, there seemed to be little self-importance among this 40+ age group, and the thought of getting on to a race track the next day seemed more exciting than their last business deal.
Of course there’s always the exception, such as the flamboyant real estate tycoon who had ordered her Aventador Roadster in white, with white on white everything inside, right down to the embroided signature in white stitching woven into the white leather headrests.
“There wasn’t enough sparkle in the paint. My car needs to sparkle so I rang Mr [Stephan] Winkelmann [Lamborghini President and CEO] and he has taken on my request personally. I’m having the car re-painted before delivery so that it really sparkles,” she said.
Sure enough, the next morning at the back of the garages of the Imola circuit where we gathered for the track day, a Lamborghini representative arrived with a new paint sample. The verdict was that the bling still needed more attention so it was sent back to Sant’ Agata for another coat.
At the track, a fleet of Aventadors was at our disposal for a day of hot laps around the 4.9km Formula One track under the tutorage of expert drivers who are all accomplished, professional racers.
Coffee and pastries devoured, it was time to hit the track. The 691bhp, V12 Aventador can be a viscous beast that needs respect. Lap after lap following the instructor who gave instructions over a two-way radio quickly dispelled any fears or nerves the group may have had.
Imola is not a circuit for the faint-hearted. It’s a proper race track of the old-school variety with elevation, long, fast straights, off camber corners and blind crests. It’s one of the most revered tracks on the Formula One calendar that’s fondly remembered for the bravery and commitment needed to get the most from its tricky layout.
At full noise down the slightly curved straight in 6th gear, we’re touching 260kmh, whacking the single clutch paddle shift box back through the ratios for the first of two chicanes at Tamborello and it snakes through the bends, kissing apexes and with a little too much throttle on exit, flicks its tail just slightly.
Off the gas to correct, then back on the pedal hard for the blast into Tosa curve, a tight second gear corner that requires concentration on exit before the uphill blast that leads to a blind left-hander and the cascading downhill curves known as Aqua Minerali.
The memories of Villeneuve, Alboreto, Prost and of course Senna flood the mind as I recall the glory days of Formula One when the titans of motor racing blasted around this beautiful, tree-lined circuit.
Another blind corner greets us at the top of the hill, this time a chicane that tricks you into flicking right when the track goes left.
Then it’s flat out along a short straight with the sound of the V12 screaming behind my head, 8,200rpm on the upchange, wheels cutting corners, kicking up blades of freshly mown grass on the verges before flicking through an unsighted curve on the downhill that brings you onto two equal radius left hand corners which you can link in one large, graceful arc on the edge of adhesion at around 150kmh in third gear.
From here it’s up through fourth, fifth and into sixth gear as the sweeping right hander past the pits brings you on to the start of another lap, the whole time encouraged over the radio by your instructor in the Lamborghini up ahead.
Back in the pits, the adrenalin was pumping as we exited the cars, there’s a cool towel and a buffet lunch awaiting and the gentleman racer within subsides once again.
A jovial crab fisherman and Aventador Roadster owner, shows us pics of his pride and joy. It’s a trawler with around 30-tonnes of crabs freshly picked from his sustainable farm, ready to be packed and shipped in ice overnight to restaurants around the world.
What does he do during his time off, I asked as sweat dried over his helmet-marked brow, fully expecting to hear tales of exotic holidays and private jets.
“I like to catch a few bream or flounder near home and cook ‘em up fresh in the pan with a bit of butter right on the beach with the kids.”
I can only assume that his Lamborghinis are nicely tucked away while he’s knee deep in water flicking lines into the surf with his family dreaming of his next big catch.
Setting out I tasked myself with finding out just who the typical high-end, V12 Lamborghini owner was, to really see what made them tick. Was I expecting adrenaline junkies, or showoffs? Trophy wives or trust fund babies? I didn’t know, but what I was not expecting was two days in the company of the most diverse collection of people I’ve met in years.
I could wax lyrical about the character differences between the real estate mogul to my left and crab fisherman to my right, but I think it is best summed up by another one of the guests: “When I drive my Ferrari, people call me a wanker, but when I take the Aventador out I get nothing but thumbs up and smiles. You can’t stereotype a Lamborghini owner, I mean, look at us.”