I’ve been Tango’d!

LP6704SVinStJamesParkreduced_4adc16e645f1b-lightboxIt all started on a dull, dreary, miserable day in October 2008 in Canary Wharf. It was about 11 o’clock. The world was tail spinning into doom and depression. Several banks had blown up. Which was next – nobody knew. It was all looking very bleak.

I needed a cigarette and cheering up.

I went outside and rung Lamborghini London. A cheerful Steve Higgins was at the other end of the phone. As I hadn’t been in touch for a few years, I was surprised he remembered me. And he had just the thing to cheer me up! He didn’t have any details at this point, however, he believed that Lamborghini were making something that would be “right up my street!”.

Given that my last few Lamborghinis were 2 wheel variants of Diablos – a MY98 SV and a 2WD 6.0L – this brought a smile to my face. I went back upstairs and sent a Letter Of Intent immediately.

In December, I received a telephone call from Steve, offering me more information about the SV. It would still be 4WD – but frankly – it would need to be! It was going to weigh less, have more power, be quicker than the Reventon (one day….) and would be raw, as the best Lamborghinis are! I put down my deposit there and then.

On Friday 30th January, I was notified of a trip to the factory, to Central Stilo to preview the SV, have a tour of the factory and visit the museum. How cool was that?! The trip brought together about 6 or 7 prospective customers, who all got on well – and some of us have stayed in touch.

We met Stephan Winkelman, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, for the preview of the new extreme Murciélago LP 640 derivative, ahead of its official public launch. We were some of the first customers to view the car, as well as being able to discuss specification, options and delivery dates.

This was followed by a tour of the factory – where it was great to see the Murcielago still being very much hand made, as opposed to the Gallardo, which was hand assembled.

To finish up, we had an escorted tour of the museum, which was awesome. We then entertained ourselves for the rest of the evening. Suffice to say – it was a subdued flight home the next day!

It was then time to commit to delivery. More money required. This was done in February. Specs were done – although there was no official spec list – or price list!

Soon, however, this was remedied. And all of the boxes were ticked:

It had to be:

Arancio Atlas

Large wing and aeropack

Full interior Carbon Pack

4 point harness

Sav Nav/iPod/Phone stuff

Rear View Camera

Tyre Repair Kit

SV Floor Mats!

Security etc.

Whilst we were at the factory, we also agreed with Stephan Winkleman that we would get the car signed by all of the people who made the car and that legendary Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni would sign off the test drive – and sign the car too! Well, as you can imagine, that made it for me!

We agreed the car production number (eventually!) and the deal was done. A more personalised service, I simply can’t imagine. I feel extremely privileged and very lucky.

In June, I went over to the factory, to get the car signed. We agreed that we would do this on one of the carbon fibre panels in the engine bay. Best of all, was being hosted by Valentino all day. He really is a legend – and the experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. Stephan Winlkeman cut short a meeting to come to the signing! Valentino Balboni signed – and then he made me sign! Then a number of the bay supervisors (who signed off the car in their area) also signed. It makes the car truly unique – and mine! This was then topped with a test drive (in the wet) with Valentino! Again, suffice to say this is a treasured memory for me. Thank you Automobili Lamborghini and Lamborghini London for making this happen.

At the beginning of July, I was informed that the SV was ready to collect from the factory, where I wished to arrange a factory pickup. Unfortunately, due to circumstances that are far too tedious to go into here, I was unable to arrange collection, which was a trifle gutting.

Summer came and went, and it wasn’t until the tail end of September that I was in a position to take delivery at Lamborghini London, Old Brompton Road. I just want to say a heartfelt thank you to to everyone at Lamborghini London, as they were absolutely fantastic and were simply brilliant to deal with.

On the morning of the 24th, I went to the showroom, via HMV to pick up my suitably orange hued i-Pod Nano, to go and collect it. The journey seemed to take forever!

At the showroom, we were greeted by Sophie and Steve – and the handover commenced. This was done in Steve’s own inimitable style and we learned things that not even Steve knew! We went down to the handover area – which has been refurbed – and is just the best grown up boys’ toys room!

The car was unveiled – and my lower jaw has only just about recovered from the grinning that was induced! It looked simply stunning. As the car is an e-gear, which I had never used previously, Steve took me out for a little lesson around central London. It seemed to work better than I thought. So, off we went, via St James Park, to home.

I put over 500 miles on the car, in running-in mode (below 4000 revs – and not using a wide throttle opening) after a few days. And the sun shone! Soon, afterwards, I was allowed to go to 5000 revs. Having just clocked 1100 miles, I’m almost ready to have the 1st service carried out (scheduled for around 1250 miles). Cant wait to start opening her up!

So, what’s the SV like?

Well, the build quality is pretty surprising. Externally, the obvious carbon front splitter, the rear carbon diffuser, the large carbon rear wing and side carbon oil cooler scoops all look great. The hexagonal carbon and Perspex engine cover is awesome – it looks like a mad prehistoric insect. And the changes to the front bonnet and wings with the creases and outlets just catch the light in a subtle Reventon-esque kind of way.

Opening the signature door skywards into the alcantara lined interior is a special way to start a drive. Plugging myself into the 4-point harness focuses the mind. It’s a special place to be. The carbon and alcantara interior, with flashes of orange, is nice. And snug! Turn the ignition, and a proliferation of lights from the dash and bleeps from somewhere abound. Foot on the brake pedal. Then turn the (Audi-esque) key (no starter button). The starter motor whirrs in the way that Lamborghini starter motors do – and then the engine catches. Well, it’s right behind your shoulder – but seems a little quieter than I’d expected.

Plug in my Blackberry to get the phone working, and on comes the iPod.

Let all of the fluids come up to temperature (coolant 70C and Engine Oil 60C

Select reverse, and the camera displays a clear image on the screen. In the daytime – and at night! And even the remodelled wing mirrors seem to aid rear view. Flick the right paddle into 1st – and you’re away.

The chassis is tight – the 100kg saving over the LP640 is immediately apparent. The steering is sharp, direct and very responsive. It changes direction as if by telepathy. Moving through the gears, the e-gear box is working quite smoothly, without the need for lifting off the throttle. Which is, as I still can’t nail it  just yet…..frustrating!

The carbon ceramic brakes deserve a mention. They are the same as the LP640 – but seem to work ridiculously well. The well documented “dead spot” in the initial travel doesn’t appear to be there – and the stopping power is simply savage.

Whilst I haven’t tracked this yet (but very soon) – first impressions of being slightly intimidated give way to, over time, a great big, over sized go-kart. It simply beggars belief that a car this size is so agile. And I’m not even pushing on yet! Still – better to gain acquaintance respectfully rather than taking liberties.

It also seems to be screwed together properly, which is nice. The lifting system works well – which actually means I can ride speed humps better than in my 550 WSR, making the car more usable than I originally thought.

I’ll wait until I have the car booked for the 1st service and begin to open her up before the next report.

Niggles? I notice an amount of understeer – is this the front diff?- but believe that this will get resolved post service with tracking, toe and camber adjustments – as the car is “crabbing” excessively on full lock. Other than that – the only gripe is that I haven’t run it in yet and sampled all 670 horsepower!

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Anjum Waheed