Automakers might develop a concept car for a number of reasons: to preview a future production model, to gauge reception to a new idea, or to showcase where the brand is going stylistically.
Whatever the motivation, a concept car is made to be shown off to the public – which usually means it debuts at a major auto show and then goes on a world tour. That’s what makes the Lamborghini Egoista so unique.
Lamborghini and its parent company Volkswagen created the Egoista three years ago to celebrate the Raging Bull marque’s 50th anniversary. They never sent it to any auto shows or took it on a tour. All they did was show it at a festive gala at the company’s headquarters in northern Italy, then put it on permanent display at the adjoining museum. And that’s where we caught up with this very unique creation upon a recent pilgrimage to Sant’Agata Bolognese.
Of course, there’s more to the Egoista than where it has or hasn’t been displayed. The name is Italian for “selfish,” which already tells you something about its nature: the conceptual supercar has only one seat, mounted in the center of the vehicle, under a glass canopy. No doors, no opening windows, no passenger seat, no luggage space – no concessions, in short, towards practicality whatsoever.
The House That Ferruccio Built has, for the past decade, derived its styling from fighter jets. The trend started with the Reventon revealed in 2007 and has only become more radical in the years following. But the Egoista takes it to new extremes. The nose dropping ahead of the canopy looks like the tip of fuselage hanging off the edge of a carrier’s flight deck. The front fenders look more like wings than any others we’ve ever seen, the vents more like jet air intakes, and the surface is made up of flat panels intersecting at angles that could have been designed to minimize the vehicle’s radar signature against anti-aircraft batteries.
The overall effect is so visually arresting that we hardly could have been any more surprised if swept wings deployed from atop the engine bay and the whole thing took flight at the end of a runway (or drag strip). But as much as the details may scream “aircraft,” the overall form is still that of an automobile – and a functional one at that.
While some concepts are barely equipped to drive themselves onto a show stage, the Egoista was based on the Gallardo and retains its powertrain: a 5.2-liter V10, unencumbered by any manner of forced induction and producing a massive 600 horsepower – more than any version of the Gallardo ever made, and nearly as much as the Huracan that would replace it the following year. In the end, the Egoista still has four wheels set out at the corners and a steering wheel inside. It’s what’s rendered within those parameters that sets it apart.
It may appear extreme, but that’s not to say that the Egoista is what we might call “beautiful” – at least not by most traditional standards. The design is the work of Walter de Silva, the Italian who served until recently as chief designer for the entire Volkswagen Group. Among his many other projects, de Silva also penned the Lamborghini Miura tribute concept (displayed opposite the Egoista in the museum) that was originally revealed in 2006 to celebrate the original’s 40th anniversary.
That concept’s design took a decidedly different approach to the mid-engined supercar – all curves, sex appeal, and nods to the company’s heritage. The Egoista, meanwhile, is all sharp intersections, myriad convoluted appendages, and somewhat awkward proportions. As much as the eye may be distracted by all the winglets and air intakes, the space between the top of the wheel arches and bottom of the greenhouse is startlingly large when viewed in profile. From the front, it calls to mind a dim-witted thug with broad shoulders and a narrow head. The wheels – rendered in neon orange and carbon fiber – are at least as busy as the rest of the design, and the cockpit (if an automotive interior has ever deserved to be referred to as such) scarcely viewable through the orange-tinted glass reminds us more of the plastic toys of our childhood than any car’s cabin we’ve ever seen or sat in.
It may be for the best, then, that Lamborghini never put the Egoista into production, or displayed it anywhere away from home. The design (or at least the ethos behind it) clearly influenced other Lamborghinis to follow, particularly the Veneno, which – though more radical in appearance than most anything else on the road – looks reassuringly sane by comparison. But the Egoista was never meant to approach anything even resembling sanity: it’s egotistical, selfish, and unbridledly celebratory. We can only applaud Lamborghini for demonstrating such a wanton lack of inhibition, and Volkswagen for enabling it. And having seen it in person, we can motor on, and not look back.
If you’re inclined to do the same, you can visit the Lamborghini Museum in Sant’Agata as well. The Egoista is parked on the second floor in the far left corner in between a Gallardo police car and a row of Lambo-powered Formula One racers from the early 1990s. Most of the other vehicles on display – like the one you’ll see in the arrivals hall at the Bologna airport – will probably strike you as better-looking, but it’s the Egoista that will likely capture your attention for longer.