Geneva only rises about 1,230 ft above sea level, but later this week, when journalists and other industry folk congregate on the shore of Lac Leman, their lightheadedness will have nothing to do with the altitude. The Geneva Motor Show is, after all, the pinnacle of new auto shows. It’s no place to unveil your new econobox or beige snoozer. It’s a convention for the coolest concepts, and production-ready supercars often have their sheets pulled there.
This year offers no exception, and a pair of Italians will duke it out for the supercar spotlight. It’s fitting that they meet on historic neutral ground, because they’ve been warring for generations. In fact, the great Lamborghini/Ferrari conflict started with an argument.
Legend has it that tractor magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini bought several Ferraris, but found a book full of shortcomings that Enzo Ferrari refused to correct. So Lamborghini set out to make a better car, and some say he did. The two companies are still fighting almost half a century later, but customers (and the rest of us) are winning.
In this corner, we have the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. Technically, Maranello would like us to call it the F12berlinetta, but that’s ridiculous, so we won’t. Now let’s get power out of the way, because what you really need to know is that the F12 will be the fastest road-legal Ferrari ever built, capable of 730 hp and 590 lb/ft of torque, and that’s enough to get it to 60 in just 3.1 seconds, fairly insane for a front-engine GT car.
Making all that glorious dynamism is the 6.3 liter V12 from the FF, and that four-wheel-drive wagon has also donated pieces of its face to the F12. But what catches the eye are the F12’s swooping flank curves, which Ferrari claims increase aerodynamic efficiency and downforce, channeling air caught in a pair of scoops behind the headlights. We’re skeptical of the science here, but though we can’t know we still believe, because those lines are stunning.
Speaking of curves, the car in the other corner has none, because it’s from Lamborghini, and their cars are built for hibachi chefs, able to run through a steak like it’s butter. To say that the Lamborghini Aventador J is a convertible Aventador gives the wrong idea. Yes, it is roofless, has the same monocoque construction as the Aventador, and will even, in all likelihood, share its 700 hp, 6.5 liter V12. But this is not the work of a reciprocating saw and a quick-fit targa top.
Designers added a pair of roll-bar head bolsters, in case you flip your 700 hp hypercar, and between them reaches an extension of the deck lid, sliding down to divide the cockpit in two. Out back there’s a swan-neck wing, and the mirrors have been sharpened, probably for slashing SUV tires.
But you notice none of this, because you’re looking at the windshield, or rather, where the windshield should be. It’s been hewn down to a pair of stumps, its pillars rooted out entirely. Perhaps the designers have stock in driving goggles?
The car’s highest point before the top of the driver’s head is the center mirror, which is thin enough to satisfy even the staunchest of aspect-ratio preservationists. The overall effect is stirring. With typical Lamborghini madness, the certifiables at Sant’Agata set out to make a car and have ended up with a cartoon character. A perfect, beautiful, frightening star of Saturday morning TV.
But in truth, these two supercars are competitors. Though they’re both two-seaters (the F12 has a “luggage” space behind the front seats), the F12 is unquestionably a GT machine, and the Aventador J most certainly isn’t. But more importantly, the “uni” in “Unica,” the J’s code name, rings true. Lamborghini will sell only one of them.
Is this sad? Of course. But does it actually decrease your chances of owning one? For most of us, the cars of our dreams unveiled annually at Geneva must remain in our dreams, but they do make some high-octane dream fuel, don’t they?
If price was no object, which would you have?