I’m flattening out a paper map of Southern California over a wooden table at the Crossroads Cafe in Joshua Tree. Eschew-ing my iPhone, Google and Waze, the old-world relic of cartography leaves little doubt the quickest way home is to head south and jump on Interstate 10—a thin blue line shooting due west from Morongo directly back to Venice Beach. As I sip coffee and consider my options, something glimmers from the corner of my eye. There on the curb outside the Crossroads’ window, the eggshell blue paint of the Aventador SVJ Roadster (for Super Veloce) tugs at my attention like an unwelcome solicitor. Its geometric surfaces shine in the light like facets of a diamond; the desert morning air is crisp, but the Road ster’s top is off, beckoning me into its cozy jetfighter cabin.
Resistance is futile. To hell with the 10—I’m taking the long way home. I pop up the scissor door and slide into the black-and-orange Al cantara-wrapped cabin, the race seats wrapping me in a maternal embrace. Pressing Lambo’s iconic ICBM-style start engine button, the naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V12 whoofs to life and fills the tumbleweed-quiet Joshua Tree streets with threatening barks. Passersby stare; giddy kids wave. I pull the right magnesium paddle shifter and slip the SVJ into drive, slowly easing it through the deserted western town; the SVJ Roadster doesn’t like the lollygagging one bit, lurching clunkily on the low-gear shifts like pulling the reins of a bull.Finally I turn right onto Old Woman Springs Road and drive into the open desert towards Lucerne Valley. Eyes squint, grin widens, foot grows leaden. The ridiculous 770 horses awaken and we take off. Tuned to explode from 0-62 mph in a time-warping 2.9 seconds, in a blink we’re slicing through the boulder-strewn landscape in a blur of exploding pistons, screaming exhaust ports and delirious, infantile chortling.
Twice on the long desert drive I have the opportunity to jump onto a highway and shorten my trip by over an hour. Twice I opt for the long road, cruising behind the San Bernardino National Forest, first on the 247 and then taking the Pearblossom Highway that connects the creaky outposts of Victorville with Palmdale. If you don’t know this road, it’s just a single ribbon of straight asphalt carved on once-open desert, zero turns.
But it’s never boring in the Lambo as the dips and undulations make it so you’re never staring straight ahead; while peak power comes at a redline-screaming 8,500 rpm, and its velocity ceiling is a withering 217-mph, you’ll never come close to approaching either of these limits on public roads, even ones as empty as these. Regardless, the joys of running the Lamborghini in these environments are impossible to explain—especially the gut punches of accelerations (courtesy of 531 lb-ftof torque) used to overtake caravans of slothing semi trucks.
After all the Aventador SVJ is one of the most powerful nonelectrified roadsters ever made, a vehicle of great exclusivity—one of only 800 ever to be built. It is currently the Raging Bull’s flagship vehicle, until the even-more exclusive Sián [see sidebar] hits roads later this year. I guess I could take this thing all the way to Malibu, see how the topless Lambo looks against the crashing waves of the Pacific. If it were up to me this road trip would never end.
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March - April 2020