1978. Grease had just rolled into cinemas yet there was nothing greased nor lightening rolling off the Lamborghini production line in Sant’Agata Bolognese. The company had recently declared bankruptcy due to the worldwide financial crash of 1973 combined with the OPEC oil crisis and – as a result – Lamborghini were left in a very precarious situation.
The future of the company was in doubt until 1980 when it was famously bought by the Mimran brothers Jean-Claude (The Sugar King of Africa) and Patrick. The brothers bought the failing assets for $3 million and heavily invested in the company’s expansion which included a comprehensive restructure of the business; by 1984 the Mimran’s had saved the company from receivership.
It was with this change of ownership a different view of Lamborghini’s objectives were decided. The decision to expand the current production of motorised vehicles was made and to complement the iconic Countach, Jalpa and the V12 “Rambo-Lambo” LM002, Lamborghini also made waves in the production of a large V12 engine built for use in marine racing as well as it’s very first Lamborghini motorcycle, the Design 90.
The Lamborghini Design 90 was built from the instruction of Patrick who believed the company should also be producing motorbikes to compete with the dominant Ducati, which led to Lamborghini meeting with, and finally collaborating with, the French design house ‘Boxer’ to produce the Design 90 in 1987.
Boxer were made famous for their limited run, hand made frames that they accompanied with Japanese motors and the Lamborghini motorcycle was no different, specified with a Kawasaki GPZ1000RX 1000cc engine that was tweaked to produce 130hp. The design of the motorcycle was credited to the late Christian Fior (his work can be seen on the modern Brough Superior with the “Fior Design wishbone fork system”) who is said to have designed both the aluminium frame as well as the entire fibreglass fairing. The Design 90 was built using an aluminium alloy frame, Boxer’s own lightweight wheels, Brembo brakes, NFI suspension, Devil exhaust and in-house machined alloy parts throughout.
The Lamborghini Design 90 was set to become a success, with 50 orders of this Lamborghini motorcycle being accepted by Lamborghini and Boxer, yet it only went on to fulfill only 6 of the proposed 25 frames. This lack of completed orders (and thus increased collectability) has since been blamed on the $13,500 (£8,500) price tag, which was twice that of any other motorcycle on the market at the time. Almost no marketing budget was spent on the Design 90, and upper management were more preoccupied by Lamborghini’s changing financial focus caused by the purchase of the company by Chrysler in 1987.
The Lamborghini motorcycle has only really been remembered by the cult following it has ascertained, and is largely the product of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. With Lamborghini now owning fellow Italian motoring brand Ducati it is safe to say Lamborghini will not be producing it’s own motorcycle for some considerable time thus elevating this 1 of 6, Lamborghini badged product, into the upper most echelons of collectability. This motorcycle is truly worth considering for any serious/serial Lamborghini collector as most are hidden away in collections and will not be seen for a very, very long time.
The example on sale at The Classic Motor Hub was the second Lamborghini motorcycle off the Boxer production line with frame number BOXERL002. With one owner from new covering only 7,200km and not being used for the past 10 years it is in a perfect recommissioning condition.
Words & Photographs by Charlie Metcalfe