Pirelli celebrates 50 years of Lamborghini supply
It’s now half a century since Pirelli first teamed up with Lamborghini, and celebrations to mark the golden anniversary began with a press conference at the Pirelli Foundation on 7 May, at which Pirelli chief technical officer Maurizio Boiocchi stated “we look forward to another 50 years together with Lamborghini.” The festivities will progress to Lamborghini’s headquarters in Sant’Agata, taking in Forte dei Marmi, Rome and Bologna along the way.
The relationship began when tractor manufacturer Ferruccio Lamborghini asked Pirelli to provide tyres for his first performance car, the Lamborghini 350GTV. The prototype displayed at the Turin Motor Show in October 1963 was allegedly incomplete – some claim there was no engine under the bonnet – but the Pirelli tyres were unarguably in place; Lamborghini chose the Cinturato HS as standard fitment for this prototype and for the 350 GT production version, which was launched at the Geneva Motor Show the following year. Developed to equip sports cars capable of reaching the 240km/h (150mph) mark, the ‘HS’ designation stood for ‘high speed’, indicating the Cinturato’s ability to cope with the sustained high speeds generated by 1960s supercars.
Yet Pirelli opines that 1966 was the year that Lamborghini truly came of age, with the introduction of the legendary Miura. Tyres for the Miura were added to Pirelli’s range in 1967 – together with original equipment for the Lamborghini 350 GT and 400 GT – but the latest model benefitted from the newest generation Cinturato HS tyres: the CN72, in a whopping size 205 VR15. The new tyre introduced a more advanced tread pattern compared to the classic Cinturato CA67, featuring a quieter and more comfortable design. This was then adopted as original equipment by all subsequent Lamborghini models, including the 1968-released Espada.
When Lamborghini requested a revised ‘Series 70’ tyre for the Miura a couple of years later, with a much lower sidewall to improve roadholding, Pirelli introduced the new Cinturato CN73 in size 225/70 VR 15. This paved the way towards the low profile tyre that would be marketed as the Pirelli P7, chosen by Lamborghini in 1971 as original equipment for its latest model: the epic Countach, a vehicle that arguably defined the 70s supercar.
It was a Lamborghini once more that launched another new Pirelli product in 1988. The Countach ‘Anniversary’ edition – introduced to mark Lamborghini’s 25th birthday – was among the first supercars to use the new Pirelli P Zero family of tyres.
Pirelli points out that its relationship with and Lamborghini is not just a technical one. Lamborghini cars often star in Pirelli’s advertising. The Lamborghini Countach Anniversary, for example, was used in a series of Pirelli advertising campaigns throughout America and Southeast Asia, while the Miura was the centrepiece of a 1970 advert for Pirelli original equipment. The advert succinctly stated: “The Miura chose Pirelli Cinturato.”
Between 1986 and 1988, Lamborghini produced the ultimate 4×4: the LM002. For this precursor to the modern range of luxury off-road vehicles, Pirelli created the Scorpion range, a tyre containing innovative features such as the use of Kevlar in the casing structure and a new run-flat construction. The LM002 took part in the 1988 Paris-Dakar Rally, marking the beginning of Lamborghini and Pirelli’s motorsport association. Pirelli says this remains a very strong relationship to this day, and the Italian tyre maker serves as the exclusive supplier of the Super Trofeo Lamborghini Blancpain.
In 1990, the Lamborghini Diablo arrived on the scene. Just 3,000 examples were built; all of which were equipped with Pirelli tyres. The turn of the century brought the Murcielago (2002) and Gallardo (2003) – both of which used P Zero Rosso. A Lamborghini Diablo was the protagonist of Pirelli’s ‘Mission Zero’ film in 2007, starring Hollywood actress Uma Thurman, and it was the Diablo again that also launched Pirelli’s Winter Sottozero II in 2008, with a spectacular display through the snow of Zermatt.
Bringing this story up to date, Pirelli says its technology and safety is still an integral part of Lamborghini’s offering, with the new Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster using a bespoke P Zero tyre. All four existing examples of the Veneno, created to celebrate Lamborghini’s 50th birthday, are fitted with specially-developed Pirelli tyres that bear a distinctive red logo inspired by the P Zero Formula One tyres.
And the next chapter? Pirelli says its engineers and their counterparts at Lamborghini are already writing it.