Let me ask you a hypothetical question: if you could design a day out with an Aventador, what would it be? What kind of automotive experience would you want to have? Would you want to cruise around town, drawing as much attention to yourself as possible? Perhaps you’d want roll in to your local nightclub full of pomp and circumstance, and toss the keys over to a cowering valet driver?
Or maybe you’d try and do a top speed run? I’m sure many of you would want to test the upper limits of this supercar’s performance capabilities and see just what 200 miles per hour feels like. Never mind that you might find yourself hurtling down the road at five times the speed limit, on a knife-edge between pure exhilaration and certain death. You’d be doing something that only a select few can say they’ve done: flogged a supercar to its maximum performance capabilities.
However I should warn you that Lamborghini will not lend one of these cars to just anyone. Even as an automotive media professional, you have to build their trust over time, and show that you can handle the responsibility of being an Aventador caretaker. This is a rather expensive piece of kit after all. They want to know where you will drive the car to, and what you plan to do with it. Racer-boys need not apply.
Of course Lamborghini also need to trust that you will come back with a visually exciting automotive story; your shooting plan and the reputation of the assigned photographer play a key role in getting access to a car like this. Luckily for me, I get to work with a certain Larry Chen: a photographic shaman whose international reputation continues to grow with each passing month.
So what to do? I was limited to 250 miles in total distance for a start. I also needed to come up with a plan that would result in not only cool imagery, but would also be something that would personally inspire me to write up a meaningful Speedhunters article.
Here’s the thing: I live in Stockholm, Sweden. Like the rest of Europe, I just endured a five-month-long deep freeze; one of the worst winters for a long, long time. So I designed a drive for the shoot that would thaw out my frozen bones and introduce sunlight to my vitamin-D-starved skin. I longed to experience the majesty of wide open spaces, complimented by the effects of heat and sun. The type that you only find in the grand old U.S. of A.
My proposal was perhaps a bit baffling to my SoCal-based Speedhunting teammates. This was, after all, their ‘local yard’.
A plan began to develop that would see me taking the car north out of Los Angeles, straight up to, well, the middle of nowhere. I wanted to experience big vistas, open skies and straight roads.
You have to understand here that for Europeans, many aspects of America are fascinating and exotic, especially things that the residents might find mundane and normal. For someone like me, a 125 mile drive up the I5 is a visual journey; the mountains just outside of LA alone are an aesthetic treat, but beyond their rugged reach lay the promise of empty roads stretching off into nothingness too. This drive was going to be exactly what I needed after a long, dark European winter.
I’m sure many of you would have designed a very different type of dream drive, but hey, this was my day out and I wanted a chilled out, relaxing day in the Southern California sunlight with the Aventador. G-forces be damned, I wanted to flee the urban sprawl and find some kind of inner silence inside my Italian mega-chariot.
05:30am. Call time. This was the scene at the start of our shoot day. That’s Larry’s production truck behind the Lamborghini.
The sun was still in snooze mode as we pulled out onto Sunset Boulevard. LA’s famous for its never ending traffic jams, but our early start ensured that we would be missing the big rush.
Even so, the roads were still somewhat thick with cars. The commuter frenzy was just starting to come to life.
I was being pretty careful at this point in time and driving in a state of hyper-alertness. Exotic machines like these are built for the world’s rich and famous and like it or not, if you drive a car like this, everyone will be looking. They may be smiling, they may be sneering, but whatever the case they will all have their eyes on your machine. And that sometimes means they may not be paying as much attention to their driving, so it’s best to be somewhat paranoid in my books!
Soon though, the traffic melted away and we found ourselves on relatively empty roads. I was able to relax enough to start observing the car around me.
Now this was my first time driving one of the big Lamborghinis. I have sampled the Gallardo in the past, but the Aventador is a very different beast. You are not so much driving a car as piloting a spaceship. Just look at that instrument… err display (it’s not really a panel is it!). Ever experienced anything like that before? I don’t think so.
The Aventador is a machine of extremes; you get the sense that Lamborghini’s engineers have spend a lot of time making the car just barely able to tolerate regular driving conditions. It’s civilized enough, but the sheer size and lowness of the machine means that you never, ever feel like there is anything normal about being inside a car like this.
Move your throttle foot just a millimetre towards the floor and a demon is instantly unleashed. This bull has a big temper and it’s always ready for #maximumattack. Forgetting that would be a mistake.
I mean, just look at the car. It’s a statement of pure attitude. Like a stud-covered leather jacket, you need to puff out your chest and put a sneer on to pull off this look.
Finally, we were getting to those wide open spaces I was hungering for. For an urban dweller like me, this was a pure godsend. For a moment in time I could look well into the distance and just be.
With a V12 singing behind my head I took a moment to listen, breath…
… and enjoy myself. My life as a Speedhunter is not nearly as dynamic as many of the other crew members. Days out in the field don’t happen that often these days, so I had to make the most of this rare supercar dream drive moment.
The life of speedhunting also means that we spend a lot of time chasing light. Feature shoots are often all about trying to find the most dynamic lighting conditions possible.
So with the sun threatening to show its beaming face, Larry had to get into position beside me…
… in order to capture this exact moment of sunrise over the Aventador. That’s a desktop if ever I saw one.
Gradually the mountains gave way to open plain. We were losing our precious golden light and thoughts turned to a different subject matter.
Caffeine! Time for Starbucks.
This was also our new Editorial Manager, Suzy Wallace’s first time meeting Larry Chen and Sean Klingelhoefer.
So it was a chance for us to catch up with our American collaborators to talk cars, cameras and cunning Speedhunting plans.
Interestingly, some of the Starbucks baristas actually recognized us and asked for a photograph. While we’re used to people coming up for a chat at automotive events, this has never, ever happened just out in public before. I wasn’t sure what to make about this, but smiled and handed out some stickers. You can see that Larry has already worked out his #SocialMediaFace… I think I need to figure something else out.
Caffeine = joy.
We are back in the spaceship. Caffeine ingested and brain kick-started, it was time to take a moment to take in that crazy instrument display once more.
Pulling off the interstate, we finally reach some classic American roads. Straight lines stretching off into the horizon, open skies rising above your head, no one in sight for miles around.
This is what I was after when I booked the dream drive. A feeling of openess and emptiness all around. A place of silence for a busy city dweller…
… where I could find a moment of internal quiet behind the wheel of my future fighting machine.
After a day of shooting the Famoso Speed Shop machines out in Bakersfield, it was time to return to LA. I considered doing the two hour drive back again, but felt I had had my moment with the Aventador, so I let Sean Klingelhoefer take the reins. Now I wanted just to watch the car and take it in from the outside.
Our day with the California sun was drawing to a close.
It was going to take a couple of hours to get back to LA, and my last caffeine fix had long since faded. But I literally couldn’t take my eyes off the Aventador. It was so much wider and lower than anything else around it; I was quite literally transfixed.
Such is the presence of this car, that the experience of it from the outside is just as powerful as that from behind the wheel. I kid you not. There’s just as much aggression and presence hitting the watcher as the driver. And that’s the wonderful thing about the Aventador: it’s the creator of joy for everyone. It’s extrovert nature means that everyone in its vicinity gets a hefty dose of #JoyOfMachine.
I for one will never forget this dream drive with this mad machine. Maybe next time I will go for a spirited canyon drive, but for my first time in this crazy a machine, it was a perfect day. I got to drive one of the most desirable cars on the planet into the wide open spaces of rural Californian and soak up a whole ton of sunlight. Both my skin and my memory will be thankful for a long time…
If you had 250 miles in an Aventador, where would you go?