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The side view of the red 1988 Bertone Genesis at Retromobile 2020

1988 Bertone Genesis: A Rad Minivan With Lamborghini Countach Power

The 1988 Bertone Genesis was an attempt to imagine a practical, but still bold Lamborghini car. And that attempt is a rear-wheel-drive, five-passenger minivan with swiveling Alcantara seats, a built-in TV, gullwing doors, and a 455-hp Lamborghini Countach V12.

Models like the Kia Carnival are proof that modern minivans are just as stylish as they are practical. But when it comes to performance, they’re certainly not supercars. At least, not the vast majority of them. On rare occasions, automakers cut loose and make high-speed minivans like the Porsche B32. And sometimes, like with the 1988 Bertone Genesis, they go even further.

The 1988 Bertone Genesis was envisioned as a Lamborghini minivan

The side view of the red 1988 Bertone Genesis at Retromobile 2020
1988 Bertone Genesis side | Automotoclub Storico Italiano

Today, if you want a ‘practical’ Lamborghini, you can buy an Urus SUV. However, before the SUV craze, in the 1980s, minivans were all the rage due to their novelty and practicality. And while Lamborghini technically had an SUV, the LM002, it didn’t have a minivan. That’s somewhat ironic given that Chrysler, which owned Lamborghini at the time, essentially invented the minivan.

Enter Italian design house Bertone, the firm behind cars like the Alfa Romeo BAT concepts, the Lancia Stratos, and the Ferrari 308 GT4. It, along with Chrysler exec Lee Iacocca, thought that Lamborghini could benefit from building a minivan, Hagerty explains. This idea wasn’t just about practicality, though.

Remember, at this point, Lamborghini was purely a supercar company. A bull-badged people-mover would have been utterly sensational and bold, HotCars says. And that’s exactly what the 1988 Bertone Genesis is.

Like all modern minivans, the Bertone Genesis has sliding rear doors. But in front, it has gullwing doors—and that’s not the most unconventional thing about it. Its seats are arranged in a 2+1+2 layout, meaning two in front, two in the rear, and one in the middle. Those seats are upholstered in red and white Alcantara and come with adjustable leg rests, Motor1 notes. They’re also power-folding and power-sliding. Plus, the front three seats can rotate 180°.

Being a 1988 minivan, the Bertone Genesis doesn’t have Apple CarPlay. But it does have a built-in TV. However, even if it wasn’t on, the minivan’s occupants had another soundtrack on hand: the V12 engine.

Beneath those gullwing doors, the Bertone Genesis flies with a Lamborghini Countach V12

A view of the V12 engine in the rear of a yellow Lamborghini Countach
Lamborghini Countach V12 engine | Lamborghini

Yes, you read that correctly. Decades before the Mercedes R63 AMG arrived, the Bertone Genesis offered the minivan world a high-horsepower experience. Or rather, a Lamborghini Countach experience.

Under the Bertone Genesis’s hood is the same 5.2-liter V12 used in the Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV. That’s why the front two seats are set so far apart: to accommodate the mid-front-mounted engine. And with six Weber carburetors, the V12 makes 455 hp.

Unlike the Countach, the Genesis has a three-speed automatic, rather than a five-speed manual. But that’s still good for a top speed of 155 mph, Petrolicious says. And, also like the Lamborghini Countach, the Bertone Genesis is a RWD car. Though given that it weighs almost two tons, it’s likely not as nimble as the Countach.

It’s a one-off concept

Sadly, for minivan shoppers, the 1988 Bertone Genesis was just a concept, albeit a functional one. However, despite Bertone’s bankruptcy, the Genesis still exists. The Italian organization Automotoclub Storico Italiano snapped it up in an auction following the design firm’s bankruptcy. And ASI occasionally displays it at motoring events such as Retromobile.

For now, though, the idea of a production Lamborghini minivan will have to remain a fever dream.

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