When normal people die, they are remembered in framed photographs or personal anecdotes told by their loved ones. Pillars of the community might get their name on a street or a ball field, but for most of us, that’s where our legacy stops. But if you’re a dead Italian tractor-builder-cum-supercar-constructor named Ferruccio Lamborghini, who would have turned 100 this year, your tribute comes in the form of the car you see here: the spectacular, 217-mph Lamborghini Centenario, which also marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of the stunning Miura. Making its debut at the 2016 Geneva auto show, the Centenario is the latest in Lamborghini’s series of so-called “one-off limited editions” (yes, that’s an oxymoron), joining models such as the Reventón, the Sesto Elemento, and, more recently, the spectacular Veneno. Like its predecessors, the Centenario is a showcase of Lamborghini talent, from engineers and craftsmen to designers (who have gotten pretty good of late). As with the Veneno, the Centenario builds on Lamborghini’s mid-engine V-12 architecture that underpins the Aventador, juicing it up with Lamborghini’s most powerful V-12 engine and wrapping it all in a shape that’s tough to describe in words.
For Ferruccio’s sake, we will at least try. Like the aforementioned “one-offs,” the Centenario is jagged and severe, its form following aero-driven function with a satisfying dose of evil. But in contrast to the dorsal-finned Veneno, which was suitably wild if not instantly recognizable as a Lamborghini, the Centenario’s heritage is clear, with its smooth silhouette, hexagonal side glass, and horizontally oriented headlamps recalling the brand’s current products. The gouge-like air intakes rising from the rocker panels to the roof on each side of the car are particularly bold, and they join the other holes, flaps, and grilles on the car to take the Centenario’s design from dramatic to extreme. These include the air-gulping front fascia, the air extractors in front of the windshield, the shelf-like rocker panels with vertical fins, the triangular vents to cool the brakes at all four corners, and—wait, what?—the distinct lack of a rear bumper. The Centenario’s back end is basically a huge diffuser with six vertical fins that appear to originate deep within the engine bay, with three angled tailpipes nestled neatly in the center. Dramatic, Y-shaped taillamps slice across the back a few inches below the Centenario’s extendable rear spoiler, which can adjust its angle by up to 15 degrees.
Lambo had the good sense not to fully paint the show car, breaking up the expanses of glossy and matte-finished carbon fiber with yellow accents on the ground effects, grille, and diffuser vanes, as well as two thin stripes over the roof. Customers can paint it any color they want, of course, but we hope at least a few of them will do it this way because it looks totally rad. Also nifty as hell are the center-locking 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels (wrapped by yellow-trimmed Pirelli P Zero tires), which feature fan-blade-like spoke profiles said to aid brake cooling. Like the body, the central structural tub also is completely composed of carbon fiber, helping keep dry weight down to a claimed 3351 pounds. (The Aventador we tested a few years back weighed in at 4085.) Powering the Centenario is Lamborghini’s naturally aspirated V-12, bumped up to 759 horsepower—19 more than the Aventador Superveloce—thus making it the most powerful production engine ever built by Lamborghini. The redline has also been raised by 100 rpm, to 8600. Lamborghini expects that the Centenario will be able to hit 62 mph in 2.8 seconds; keep the throttle buried and you could see 186 mph in just 23.5 seconds.
When not driving in a straight line, Lamborghini’s new rear-wheel-steering system is said to reduce the turning circle while stabilizing high-speed handling. The system’s effect also changes according to the driver’s selection of Strada, Sport, and Corsa driving modes, which also control powertrain behavior, stability control, steering effort, and more. The Centenario’s interior includes carbon-fiber sport seats and generous amounts of stitched leather and microsuede. Springing for the near-$2-million Centenario over the workaday Aventador also nets you an upgraded infotainment system that features a new 10.1-inch high-definition touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi connectivity, and other features ol’ Ferruccio would probably never bother with if he were still alive. His ears might perk up, however, when he found out it also comes with a performance data recorder to measure speeds, g forces, and lap times during track excursions. Lamborghini plans to build 40 Centenarios, split evenly between coupes and roadsters, and the maker says all were sold before the car was publicly shown. We suspect none of its customers blinked an eye at the car’s pre-tax price of €1.75 million, or a tick over $1.9 million at today’s exchange rate. Deliveries begin this fall and will continue into 2017. We’re fairly certain the old tractor guy never imagined that he’d receive anything this wild for his centennial birthday, yet we’re equally certain he’d approve. Sure beats a plaque on a park bench.