Pirelli: From the Archives to the Track, The Cinturato CN12 Born Again After 50 Years

The Cinturato CN12 that once equipped the prototype 1971 Lamborghini Countach LP500 is back on the road after a 50-year wait. The definitive version of the Countach finally entered production in 1974 with a tyre that was different in specification to the original CN12 prototype, which remained locked away on the LP 500. Now however, Lamborghini has decided to recreate the historic 1971 car for a collector. Pirelli’s engineers – after a painstaking process of analysis and research in the Pirelli Foundation archive – have faithfully recreated the CN12 that was designed at the time for Lamborghini’s masterpiece.


Pirelli, which has worked with Lamborghini since 1963, remade the tyres used for the LP500 prototype, which wore unique Cinturato CN12 covers when it was first displayed at the Geneva Motor Show. This was the very first low profile tyre, already used by the legendary Miura with different measures. Pirelli developed a specific version of this tyre for the LP500, with a height to width ratio of 0.6: the lowest that had ever been seen at the time. The tyres themselves were in 245/60 R14 size at the front and 265/60 R14 size at the rear: exactly the same dimensions used for today’s reconstructed version. The tread pattern design is identical too, while the compound and structure use the latest modern technology to offer more safety than was available at the time.

The revival of the Countach LP500, making its debut at the famous Villa d’Este Concours, was carried out by Lamborghini’s heritage division, which put in more than 25,000 hours of work to bring the dream of one the marque’s most dedicated collectors to life. The Lamborghini Countach became an instant classic, launching a series of immediately recognisable design cues that would go on to characterise the cars from the 1970s to now.


The historic collaboration between Pirelli and Lamborghini – two Italian companies – can be defined as a continuous process of mutual technical innovation that has continued relentlessly over the decades. From the very first Lamborghini models, which used tyres from the Cinturato family, the story continues to the present day, with every modern Lamborghini wearing the latest Ultra High Performance (UHP) P Zero tyres, uniting Pirelli’s experience in the world’s most prestigious motorsport championships with an ongoing collaboration involving the very best carmakers. Lamborghini’s range is constantly evolving, which means that Pirelli continues to develop bespoke tyres to match the demanding performance characteristics of every model: from the P Zero and P Zero Corsa for the coupés, spyders, and roadsters, to the Scorpion for the Urus SUV.


The Pirelli Collezione family has a mission to preserve as well as promote automotive history, combining vintage looks with modern technology and production processes for better efficiency and control. Pirelli’s Collezione tyres are designed to guarantee quality materials and a safe structure that can only be achieved with the help of the latest tyre-making techniques. As well as reproducing a classic tread pattern design or vintage lettering, Pirelli’s Collezione tyres also mirror the milestones of period tyre design, such as the cross-ply carcass of the historic Stella Bianca, still produced with machinery based on the know-how of the time. The Collezione range is made up of some truly legendary names: from the iconic Stella Bianca launched in 1927, to the Stelvio, to the more recent Cinturato P7 (1974), P5 (1977), P Zero (1984) and P700-Z (1988). The result of this close collaboration with the world’s most desirable carmakers enhances the original performance of the classic cars that these Collezione tyres are now fitted to.

Pirelli Collezione tyres are available from specialist classic car dealers, as well as from Longstone Tyres and Pirelli’s P Zero World flagship stores in Los Angeles, Munich, Monaco, Dubai and Melbourne.


To reproduce the tyres showcased in the Pirelli Collezione, it was vital to have access to all the materials used in their development when they were brand new, from design to production. These documents relating to every Pirelli tyre are carefully stored at the Pirelli Foundation: the group’s historical archive. Within it can be found tens of thousands of documents relating to the development of every tyre throughout the last century, as well as the specification of the machinery used to make them, not to mention technical files specifying the size of the moulds for vulcanisation, the design of the tread pattern, and the original markings – with size, type of tyre and company logo – on the sidewall.

The Pirelli Foundation, created in 2008, maintains an archive that’s more than 2 miles long, covering the history of Pirelli from its inauguration in 1872 until today. The archive also contains all the visual elements used to tell the story such as photographs, sketches and posters, as well as audio and film recordings and corporate magazines. Since 1972, it has been protected by the national cultural heritage department. The Pirelli Foundation hosts several activities that highlight the company’s industrial heritage, including publications, exhibitions and conventions, as well as guided tours. These events involve thousands of people every year, and a key element is education, with courses aimed at schools of every level, all the way up to leading universities. The key aim is to raise awareness of Pirelli’s world even among the youngest students, bringing them closer to the company’s values and culture.