1950s / 1960s / 2010s / British / Italian / Lamborghini / Mini

The common heritage between a 700-hp Lamborghini and a humble Mini

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The Lamborghini Aventador and the Mini have more in common than you might think.

To ensure the Mini was as compact as possible, BMC chose to mount the engine transversally and on top of the gearbox. BMC wasn’t the first car maker to install an engine east-west – DKW, Saab and Goliath had all toyed around with the concept before – but the Mini undeniably helped democratize the concept.

A couple of years later, a team led by an ambitious entrepreneur named Ferruccio Lamborghini was designing a mid-engined sports car, and his engineers had a difficult time shoe-horning the 4.0-liter V12 behind the passenger compartment. Story has it that one of them looked under the hood of the Mini and, in short, said “if it works for them it’ll work for us, too.”

The Miura was introduced in 1966 with the world’s first transversally-mounted V12 engine. Penned by Marcello Gandini, it became an unexpected hit and it helped position Lamborghini as a world-class automaker capable of taking on rivals Ferrari and Maserati. Notably, the Miura allowed Lamborghini to establish a relatively secure foothold in the United States, which remains its biggest market today.

The Miura was replaced by the Countach, which eventually spawned the Diablo, the Murciélago and, most recently, the Aventador. Hence, if it wasn’t for the Mini the Aventador might not exist today. Lamborghini could have built the Miura differently, it could have been a total failure and the company could have stuck to building tractors.

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