Posted 2017-05-05 in /stories

Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

When a big brand manufacturer announces the release of a special edition supercar, it's often a rather awkward affair. Under enormous pressure from their shareholders, customer base and fear of industry stoicism, the company take an existing car, slap on a fresh paint job, put some letters on the end of the name and give it some new, ultimately useless gimmicky trinkets. Then on press day, under threat of being fired by a desperate Chief Editor, every two bit automotive journalist has to feverishly strain out an article explaining why the new carbon fibre cup holder and lack of infotainment system really is the best thing to happen to performance road cars since Audi invented the Quattro.

This uncomfortable dance is played out in the performance car segment more often than we are all willing to admit and, ultimately, it's a tragic charade that all serious buyers can see straight through. Can anyone be blamed then, for reminiscing about the rare occasions where a special edition supercar is released and it's actually rather good? Such nostalgia was enjoyed when we at Knight International were finally able to announce the availability of a pristine Lamborghini Sesto Elemento; a car that not just gave their creators a crown jewel to spearhead the lineup, but a car that virtually saved the company from becoming a second rate dinosaur.Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
At the awkward turn of the decade into the 2010's, Lamborghini were only making two cars; the Gallardo and the Murcielago. This was a problem because, although the Gallardo boasted record sales numbers amongst the elite driving machines, it was really nothing more than a plucky sports car being carried by the status-drenched badge. As for the Murcielago, it was, to put it kindly, an aircraft carrier of terror and repair bills. The great Ferrari bull-buster had only these two rather tame specimens in its stable and this was at a time when track days and performance were all the rage. The general consensus became that if you wanted to turn up to a party, you drove a Lamborghini; If you wanted to go racing, you bought a Ferrari. Because of this, over the previous two years, Lambo's sales figures had virtually halved.
View from behind the wheel
Lamborghini needed a boost to get back in Ferrari's face. Not another special edition Gallardo to turn pathetically on a plynth at the next motor show. A real car. A racing car. Something that would jumpstart a new era of lightweight, outrageous Lamborghinis, focused on getting the user around a track in the shortest time possible. It also needed to be clever and carry the same ridiculousness that is morally expected of a Lambo star. Ferrari at the time were cracking the market with ever more powerful cars such as the 458, 599 and 612. The prancing horses were being packed tighter and tighter into the cylinders and Lamborghini realised they needed to humiliate them another way. A better way than simply screwing more power out of their engines.
Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
Their solution was the Sesto Elemento. A car so non sequitur to their current corporate, Audi-infested train of thought, that it knocked every reporter's socks off. A car with almost the same dimensions as a Gallardo but, thanks to aerospace materials, more than one whole Harley Davidson lighter. The tub, bodywork, wheels and much of the rotating mass of the car were all carbon fibre, hence the name; Italian for the sixth periodic element, carbon. The seats were just pads stuck to the bare chassis and the butt of the transmission hung visibly out of the back from between the glorious, naked carbon venturi. Every one of the 20 Sestos ever made was manufactured in blushing carbon fibre. Tiny red flecks of paint impregnated into the weave bodywork surfaces gave it a mesmerizing, maroon shimmer.
Interior of the Sesto Elemento
Frankly, if you weren't a runway supermodel, you'd be doing the Sesto Elemento's weight saving prowess a disservice. The whole car came in at 999kg, a cleverly engineered number to show that the work was deliberate, not just a desperate clambering for the lowest value. This was a clear sign that Lamborghini were just getting started. The only thing more other-worldly than the looks was the noise. If you ever want to know what a true Lamborghini should sound like, listen to the Sesto Elemento. It was priced at a little under £2m and each one was sold before the first motor show to private buyers.
Front view of the Sesto Elemento
Many would finish here, but there is one last detail about the Sesto Elemento that upgrades it from an exceptional car to a legend. The V10 engine was stock and produced no extra power than a good Gallardo at the time. If they wanted, they could have gotten so much more power out of it... but they didn't. The car still did 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and could beat a Bugatti Veyron around a track purely because of the weight saving. It was a message to Ferrari that Lamborghini could do with 570 horsepower what they were struggling to do with far more. Brains over brawn. A classy beat-down to show that the raging bull still had what it takes and they didn't need to prove a thing.

Ultimately, the Sesto worked. Lamborghini sales figures swooped back up and from the Sesto, seeds came forth cars such as the Veneno, Egoista, and Centenario. The next one more outrageous, lightweight and polarising than the last. The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento is a true unsung hero of the supercar world. Some dismiss it because of its power output, but this car is for the individual that sees through the farce of ever increasing horsepower figures and looks at what is ultimately most important in a great car; intelligent design.

The last Sesto Elemento sold privately for 3 million euros. What's more shocking is it would have sold for a lot more. Ours at Knight International is just 2.4 million euros and, as far as we are aware, is the last delivery mileage Sesto Elemento available too. It even comes with a never before seen road legal option. An extremely rare, undervalued car that will no doubt be of great interest to investors, collectors and driving fanatics alike. I have no doubt the new owner will see this Sesto Elemento for the investment and the automotive landmark that it truly is. I just wonder if they will ever have any intention of driving it.

Guest article provided by Richard Smith; Knight International