A Mod­ern Bob Spe­cial

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Contents - Text: Ferdi de Vos Im­ages © Ryan Ab­bott

The Per­for­mante, the lat­est (and fastest) in­car­na­tion of the Hu­racán su­per­car, is, in essence, a trib­ute to de­vel­op­ment engi­neer, Bob Wal­lace, who, dur­ing his time at Sant’agata in the 1960s, cre­ated three light­weight, high-per­for­mance ver­sions of Lamborghini road cars.

Back then, Wal­lace, work­ing with Gian Paolo Dal­lara and Paolo Stan­zani, de­vel­oped the Miura pro­to­type and pro­duc­tion cars, aid­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the Miura S and SV ver­sions.

De­spite Fer­ruc­cio Lamborghini’s re­luc­tance to be­come in­volved in motorsport, Wal­lace be­lieved the pro­duc­tion mod­els had great rac­ing po­ten­tial, and to prove this he built mod­i­fied ver­sions of the road-go­ing cars.

The most well-known of th­ese spe­cials was the P400 Jota, a rad­i­cal light­weight, high-per­for­mance ver­sion of the Miura, built in 1970. Weight re­duc­tions in the car in­cluded us­ing light­weight alu­minium al­loy for the chas­sis com­po­nents and plas­tic for the side win­dows, and it weighed ap­prox­i­mately 360 kg less than a pro­duc­tion Miura. The Jota’s mod­i­fied en­gine with an in­creased com­pres­sion ra­tio, altered cams, elec­tronic ig­ni­tion, dry-sump lu­bri­ca­tion, and free-flow ex­haust pro­duced up to 325 kw at 8,800 rpm, and the sin­gle ex­am­ple was sold to a pri­vate buyer. In April 1971, it burnt out com­pletely af­ter a crash.

Af­ter the Jota, Wal­lace mod­i­fied a Lamborghini Jarama by stiff­en­ing the chas­sis, us­ing lighter body pan­els, and up­grad­ing the sus­pen­sion, aero­dy­nam­ics, and en­gine. This car be­came known as the Jarama Bob (or RS).

The fi­nal Wal­lace spe­cial was the Ur­raco Bob (or Rally), cre­ated from a pre-pro­duc­tion pro­to­type. Wal­lace light­ened and stiff­ened the car, pro­vided it with aero­dy­namic en­hance­ments, a roll cage, six-speed transaxle, and a spe­cial quat­trovalv­ole 3-litre V8 en­gine pro­duc­ing 230 kw. In­ter­est­ingly, this was the only one of the three Bob Spe­cials to ac­tu­ally be raced – in a sin­gle out­ing at Misano Cir­cuit in Italy.

Fol­low­ing the sale of the com­pany in 1974, Wal­lace left Lamborghini the fol­low­ing year and set­tled in Phoenix, Ari­zona. He died in 2013 – the 50th an­niver­sary year of Lamborghini – at the age of 75.

His­tory some­times take in­ter­est­ing twists. If it was not for nu­mer­ous life­lines to re­cap­i­talise the bank­rupt Lamborghini

three decades ago, the com­pany would have been ex­tinct for years by now. And there would have been no Per­for­mante.

Un­der Audi’s guid­ance, the com­pany has re­gained its place among the revered su­per­car brands, and the Hu­racán Per­for­mante is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of what the com­pany can now achieve.

Much like the rad­i­cal Ur­raco Bob, the Hu­racán Per­for­mante sports a big rear wing. But with all the trick tech avail­able, it is an ac­tive aero de­vice, part of a sys­tem aptly called ALA (Aero­d­i­nam­ica Lam­borghid­sni At­tiva). Ala also means wing in Ital­ian. While 80% lighter than reg­u­lar sports car hy­draulic sys­tems, it is said that ALA pro­vides the Per­for­mante with up to 750% more down­force than the reg­u­lar Hu­racán, and it has helped the Per­for­mante to be­come the fastest nor­mally as­pi­rated pro­duc­tion car around the Green Hell, or Nür­bur­gring Nord­schleife.

Ex­ten­sive body­work changes on the Per­for­mante in­clude re­vised car­bon fi­bre front and rear bumpers and bumper skirts, and the split­ter and dif­fuser now have ac­tive in­di­vid­ual aero­dy­namic el­e­ments.

It is also 40 kg lighter than the nor­mal LP640-4, thanks to a forged alu­minium and forged car­bon fi­bre body (as used in the Sesto Ele­mento), hol­low parts, and the re­vised ex­haust sys­tem’s po­si­tion, which has been moved to just above the rear dif­fuser.

The in­te­rior is a jumble of hexag­o­nal shapes and tog­gle switches, but at least the newly-de­signed sport seats are com­fort­able and the Audi-de­rived TFT vir­tual cock­pit dis­play with MMI in­ter­face brings some sem­blance of or­der to the oth­er­wise clut­tered dash­board.

New springs, roll bars, ra­dial, and axial arm bush­ings have stiff­ened the chas­sis by an­other 10%, and the up­dated 5.2-litre V10 with new in­take ducts now pushes out 471 kw at 8,000 rpm and 601 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm – good enough for a the­o­ret­i­cal top speed of 351 km/h (it is in fact limited to 325 km/h).

Fir­ing up the V10, I was sur­prised at how subdued it sounded at idling speed, and with the 7-speed LDF (Lamborghini Dop­pia Frizione) trans­mis­sion in Strada mode, the car was docile and re­laxed in town traf­fic.

The re­worked mag­ne­torhe­o­log­i­cal shocks and sus­pen­sion gives the Per­for­mante a re­mark­ably good ride at low speed. But it is so low you need to keep re­mind­ing your­self to lift the sus­pen­sion for vir­tu­ally any big bump in the road.

Se­lect­ing Sport with the red but­ton on the flat-rimmed steer­ing wheel changed the car’s whole de­meanour. The V10’s en­gine note be­came vi­brant and vis­ceral, the gear changes shorter and sharper, and the damp­ing quicker.

With that 10-cylin­der scream­ing in my ear, the trans­mis­sion seam­lessly flip­ping through the gears, and the spoil­ers snap­ping into their low­est-drag set­ting, I could just imag­ine Wal­lace be­hind the wheel of the orig­i­nal Miura Jota, see­ing off the chal­lengers from Fer­rari and Maserati on his in­fa­mous au­tostrada runs.

The Per­for­mante was even bet­ter tak­ing on wind­ing moun­tain roads with the clever aero and the re­cal­i­brated, more di­rect steer­ing, and the well­sorted sus­pen­sion kept it firmly planted and res­o­lutely on course while scyth­ing through the cor­ners.

It is so finely bal­anced and sure-footed, thanks to the Haldex all-wheel drive sys­tem and fat 20-inch tyres pro­vid­ing co­pi­ous amounts of grip. Yet it is so easy to drive that it makes any driver looks good.

I never re­ally got it to per­form on the limit, run­ning out of bravado and tal­ent long be­fore the car did. But at my limit of com­mit­ment the Per­for­mante be­haved im­pec­ca­bly, bod­ing well for when it is made to dance at the ex­treme edge of ad­he­sion.

Like Wal­lace’s spe­cial Jota and Jarama, the Per­for­mante is re­ally a race car for the road – it may well have been named Hu­racán Bob. It is a superb piece of au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing – a car Wal­lace would have been ex­tremely proud of. Specifications

En­gine: V10, 90°, Multi-point and Di­rect fuel in­jec­tion

Dis­place­ment: 5,204cc

Max. power: 470 kw @ 8,000 rpm

Max. torque: 600 Nm @ 6,500 rpm

Trans­mis­sion: 7-speed LDF, all-wheel drive, rear locking dif­fer­en­tial

Ac­cel­er­a­tion 0-100 km/h: 2,9 sec­onds

Ac­cel­er­a­tion 0-200 km/h: 8,9 sec­onds

Top speed: 325 km/h (limited)

Con­sump­tion: 13,7 l/100 km

CO2 Emis­sions: 314 g/km

Price: R5,835,500 (de­pen­dant on ex­change rate)

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