Although not remembered by many, Lamborghini was once involved in Formula 1 racing. It was 26 years ago when it developed an engine for use by the Minardi team which installed it in the M191B chassis #003. The engine was the LE3512, a V12 unit in the days when this configuration was permissible.
Entrusted to drivers Gianni Morbidelli and Christian Fittipaldi, the Minardi M191B #003 competed in the first Grand Prix races of 1992 before being replaced by the M192, also equipped with a Lamborghini engine. The best result achieved by the racing car was 11th place with Fittipaldi at the wheel during the Spanish GP.
Now Lamborghini Polo Storico, the specialized unit dedicated to the restoration and certification of Lamborghini models, has carried out restoration of the racing car with the support of former Lamborghini engineering personnel who were active on the Lamborghini F1 project in the early 1990s. It is the first single-seater to be restored by Polo Storico.
The Minardi M191B #003 was earlier on display at the Lamborghini Museum in Italy. The car then underwent 7 months of work to return to its original efficiency, with most of the original components maintained. However, the tyres, fuel tank, engine control unit, seatbelts and fire extinguishing system were replaced, while the other components were carefully restored, starting from the engine designed by Mauro Forghieri. The 12-cylinder LE3512 is still able to deliver the original almost 700 bhp.
Following the meticulous restoration exercise, a shakedown was organized by Lamborghini Squadra Corse and during the test runs, the restored Minardi ran more than 20 laps without any problem and the Lamborghini engine performed perfectly.
Giancarlo Minardi, the founder of the team, was present at the event. He recalled the fruitful collaboration with Lamborghini that lasted for the entire 1992 season. “Seeing the models of 25 or 30 years ago is still exciting. They are the last cars before the beginning of telemetry and automatic transmissions. Apart from the growling noise, which still today brings back those wonderful times, it was a very flexible engine with enormous power starting from the low rpms,” he said.