Gallery: a brief history of Lamborghini ‘Super Veloce’ models | Top Gear
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Gallery: a brief history of Lamborghini ‘Super Veloce’ models

The astonishing Aventador SVJ isn’t the first super-Lambo. Here's what came before

  • Earlier this week, we got behind the wheel of the 759bhp Nurburgring-crushing Aventador SVJ – the most extreme version of the Aventador, featuring the most powerful V12 Lamborghini has ever created.

    The ‘SV’ stands for ‘Super Veloce’, which means ‘super speed’. You don’t have to possess Alan Turing levels of brainpower to crack that code. The 'J' bit? Well, that stands for 'Jota'. It dates back to 1970 when Lamborghini wanted to get the Miura into racing, so chief test drive/engineer Bob Wallace got hold of the FIA rulebook and turned to Appendix J – the section that dealt with homologation specials and one-offs.

    Although the Miura never raced, the name (the letter J in Italian is pronounced Jota) stuck. It's a name that has only ever been applied to the most extreme versions of Lamborghinis, starting with the original 1970 Miura P400 Jota.

    It’s been used very sparingly since: neither the Countach nor the Murcielago ever wore it, but in 1993 Lamborghini created the Diablo SE30 Jota and two years later a one-off Diablo Jota to homologate two race cars for the Japanese GT championship. 

    Essentially cartoons masquerading cars, SV cars are a lighter, harder and faster version of already hard, fast V12 Lamborghinis. And the SVJ, which follows the SV Roadster which follows the SV Coupe, followed in the footsteps of, well, quite a few rather excellent Super Veloce models, actually.

    Lamborghini has long harbored a fondness for taking its big V12s, and making them even more bombastic: more power, more aero, more, um, veloce.

    So here are the Aventador SVJ’s ancestors, and it all started with the most famous Lamborghini of the bunch…

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  • Lamborghini Miura SV

    The prettiest car Lamborghini ever built, and one of the prettiest supercars of all time. Lamborghini modestly claims that “very few cars managed to change the automobile world like the Miura,” and we’d be hard pressed to disagree.

    The Miura S quickly followed – slightly more power – but it wasn’t until 1971 that we first witnessed the dawn of the ‘SV’ badge. At the time Lambo was gearing up to build the brand new Countach LP500, but customers still wanted the Miura.

    So Ferrucio decided to roll out a very special edition. Externally, it only had a wider mud guard, but internally, that 4.0-litre V12 was treated to a bit of a revamp. Power jumped from the standard Miura’s 350bhp to a much more socially acceptable 385bhp, while the top speed climbed to 186mph.

  • Lamborghini Diablo SV

    We’ll come back to the Countach, because that didn’t get an SV version, but its successor, this wonderful slice of 1990s exotica, did. The mid-engined, 5.7-litre V12 – already producing 492bhp in the ‘standard’ Diablo – now produced 510bhp.

    That wasn’t all. The Diablo SV did without the all-wheel-drive traction of the Diablo VT (it was a rear-driver), and featured an adjustable rear spoiler, better brake cooling and bigger brakes, a new engine lid and bigger wheels. YES.

    Later facelifted, the SV eventually produced 529bhp, and there was even a special edition SV ‘SE35’, built to commemorate Lambo's – yep, you guessed it – 35th anniversary.

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  • Lamborghini Murcielago SV

    The moment Lamborghini’s last V12 range-topper was properly let off the chain. The ‘standard’ Murcielago arrived at the turn of this century, but it wasn’t until 2009 that we saw the might of the LP670 SV.

    The name gives it away. 670PS – or 661bhp – represented a 20-horsepower jump on the regular car’s pitiful 641bhp, all from a 6.5-litre V12 treated to some revised valve timing and a better intake system. Weight also dropped by 100kg thanks to considerable use of carbon fibre both for the exterior and inside (like the seats, for instance) and a lighter exhaust system.

    Lamborghini officially claimed a 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds, but that might have been a tad conservative. Top speed? 213mph.

    Also, there was prodigious noise, and much, much wing.

  • Lamborghini Aventador SV

    The successor to the Murcielago SV is just as bonkers, and equally at home on a bedroom wall or glued to your local track. More power from that V12 (740bhp), less weight and lots of complicated aerodynamics means the Aventador SV lives up handsomely to its veloce moniker.

    This one comes as either a Coupe or Roadster, but you’ve only got the chance to buy the drop-top – all 500 models of the SV Coupe have already sold out. Which is a shame, because, as we found out, it’s quite a thing…

  • Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary

    Okay, so it’s not strictly a Super Veloce, because it’s wasn't called Countach SV. And yet this 25th Anniversary Lambo got all the hallmarks of an SV model. Based at it was on the Countach ‘QV’ (that’s Quattrovalvole, or four-valve), this one got new front and side spoilers, modified air vents and of course, more power.

    So, that 5.2-litre V12 produced 455bhp (the early Countach made just 375bhp from a 4.0-litre V12), and yielded a top speed of 183mph. Lambo made just 658 of these 25th Anniversary cars, so good luck finding one…

  • Lamborghini Aventador SVJ

    Even though it's a few weeks old, you probably know the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ quite well by now. It's the most extreme version of Lambo’s big-boy supercar yet and quite angry.

    Actually, very  angry. It’s already claimed the Nürburgring Nordschleife record, it has a 760bhp 6.5-litre V12, is still completely free of turbos, good for 0-62mph in 2.8secs, 0-124mph in 8.6secs and a top speed of 217mph. It's bonkers. And we've driven it. Which you can read about here.

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