Gearhead News

March 31, 2021
Nelson Racing Engines' Twin-Turbo Lamborghini V12 Is a Beautiful Way to Make 1,500 HP

Pretty much anything can be improved by turbochargers, including but not limited to junkyard 350 Chevys with an eBay boost kit. That being said, it’s a heck of a lot more satisfying when you do it right—something the crew at Nelson Racing Engines knows a thing or two about.

In addition to building some of the coolest twin-turbo V8s out there, the company has recently applied its skillset to something a bit more exotic—the 6.0-liter V12 from a Lamborghini Diablo. Just like the V8s the company usually works on, it’s received two mirror-image turbos of NRE’s own design, and it looks absolutely incredible.

Brooks Ayola

The twin 64-millimeter turbochargers are fed by custom mandrel-bent headers. The bends on the header pipes are all matched up intentionally with custom-ordered special-radius dies so they look extra clean. From there, the exhaust is fed out the back of the car via a custom X-pipe system, joined by two screamer pipes from the wastegates below. 

The engine was completely rebuilt and reassembled with new parts as well. Custom forged connecting rods from Pauter link up to brand new forged pistons from JE; in fact, the only stock component of the bottom-end is the crank. 

As well as re-doing the rotating assembly, the heads were gone through with new Inconel exhaust valves and new intake valves. The original intake plenums were also cut up and enlarged to accommodate water-to-air intercoolers. The result of all of this work speaks for itself, as does the V12’s peak output of 1,500 horsepower.

And to be clear, this engine is going back into the 2001 Diablo VT it came out of, where it’s sure to scare the living daylights out of anyone who drives it. Really, it’s almost a shame it’s going back into a car at all; it’s a piece of functional art that looks incredible all by itself, and it took a ton of work to get right. 

Speaking to The Drive, Tom Nelson said getting parts for the engine was “like getting a hold of the President.” Needless to say, though, it was all worth it.

Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach them here: peter@thedrive.com