Once an RAF and then a USAF SAC airbase, Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome and Proving Ground is well known to British car enthusiasts for its near two-mile runway, making it about the only place in the UK where supercars can legally knock on the door of 200mph.
Today, we’re taking part in shakedown trials for a car Lamborghini has never made: a rear-wheel drive Aventador. More than that, it’s 300 lb lighter and has 60hp more!
The weather gods had been kind to us – it’s unusual sunny but also windy and bitterly cold. On the other hand, cold air is good for internal combustion engines, and it carries the sound a long way.
The scream of the Oakley Design Aventador LP760-2 V12, amplified by its titanium exhaust system, reaches us long before the orange
apparition lunges into view. Jon Oakley is on his return run and the symphony of engine and exhaust grows to manic proportions. Yet it suddenly falls away as the nose dips under braking. The Lambo slows at the end of the runway, pulling alongside the stock Aventador we’d brought as a benchmark.
The car throws off serious heat into the frigid atmosphere. And as the butterfly door opens, it’s clear why so many enthusiasts fall under the spell of the Raging Bull. In fact, some wealthy customers have paid well over sticker price to jump the queue for the Aventador, so it might not seem such a stretch to the $500,000 (£320k) Oakley’s cars have sold for (depending on spec). But if you already have an Aventador, the modifications will set you back $95000.
So what’s the rationale for the Oakley Design LP760-2? Believe it or not, even in this rarefied atmosphere, there are some for whom this exclusive club simply isn’t exclusive enough. Personalisation is the name of the game.
The first clue lies in the name. The Oakley LP760-2 has 760hp and 2WD. “This isn’t about making the Aventador better per se, but rather about emphasizing its good points and playing down the less good ones to create a better balance,” explained Oakley founder, Jon Oakley.
For those unfamiliar with Oakley Design, Jon’s a respected test- and race driver whose specialty is setting up cars for some well-known road and race teams. His company gained its reputation with engine, suspension and aerodynamic additions for Porsches and the Ferrari Italia. Lamborghini is the third marque in the portfolio.
“The Aventador is relatively slow to turn into a corner and has a tendency to understeer,” Jon explained. “The general feedback from clients is that it feels too sensible, Audi-like, losing the aggressive, razor edge feel of earlier cars like the Murcielago LP670 SV.
“That was my reaction when I first drove the car,” said Jon. “I felt many of these issues could be addressed by removing the four-wheel drive system. So we placed orders for five cars in late 2010, which were scheduled to arrive in November.”
“November came and went, and we heard there were teething problems that halted production,” Jon continued. “So we didn’t get our first Aventador until March this year. The second and third cars have now arrived, and the last two are due by July.”
“We sold all five cars almost immediately on the strength of our press release,” said Jon. “Three will go to customers who have our Ferrari Italia conversion. This orange car is the only right-hand drive example, all the others were LHD and white.”
“Development took longer than you expect,” he explained. “When you delve into a new car, you are on a steep learning curve. After six weeks working overtime into the early morning, the first car was finished at 2.45am in time for the Auto Italia Show at Brooklands, where it was met with an amazing response.”
In addition to converting the car to rear-drive only, the company’s objectives were to improve downforce, reduce weight, increase power and improve the soundtrack.
The weight reduction program involved removing all the front-drive components: The front differential and mounts tipped the scales at 92 lb, the driveshafts 35 and 31 lb – a total of 160 lb.
Next to go was the factory exhaust, weighing 88 lb, where Oakley’s titanium replacement weighs only 9 lb!
Finally, the forged HRE wheels removed 15 lb from the unsprung weight at each corner, saving 62 lb across the four wheels, even though each is 0.5” wider than standard, helping to reduce sidewall flex from the factory Pirellis. All this adds up to an overall weight reduction of 300 lb.
Oakley Design’s carbon-fiber aerodynamic kit consisted of 15 functional and 12 cosmetic parts, made from the same material as used by McLaren. As with previous Oakley cars, the aero parts were developed in the MIRA wind tunnel. “We spent more than 14 hours in the wind tunnel over a three-day period, testing at simulated speeds over 120mph,” Jon explained.
“The front splitter extends 50mm further forward than stock while the front intakes have been reworked to increase airflow, and the leading edges are 10mm longer, add further downforce. We now have 170 lb of downforce over the front axle at 125mph,” he said.
The stock Aventador looks incomplete at the rear because it’s begging for a rear wing. The carbon Oakley wing sits on alloy uprights that facilitate adjustment up to a 45˚ angle of attack.