Jonathan Parnell – Hedonism to the Extreme: Lamborghini and Our Souls

“What does a tractor manufacturer know about sports cars?” said Enzo Ferrari to an Italian mechanic from humble roots.1

This mechanic, Ferruccio Lamborghini, did manufacture tractors, and he did well. But he also liked fast automobiles and building things, and in the decade following WWII he decided to try his hand at supercars. Frustrated with the Ferrari’s handling on the road, and Ferrari’s dismissal at some suggested improvements, Ferruccio blazed his own trail by creating Automobili Lamborghini. By the fall of 1963, at the Turin Motor Show, he released the Lamborghini 350 GTV and launched the beginning of an iconic supercar brand — a brand at which most men have only marveled from afar.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of that original design.

To commemorate the anniversary, Lamborghini has unveiled a new car that many say is aptly named “Egoista” — that is, “selfish.” Yes, that’s right. The car is named “Selfish.” It is a single-seat concept engineered for those who want to treat “me, myself, and I.” One commentator writes that the Egoista, along with its 5.2-litre V10, 600 horsepower engine, has aesthetically more in common with a fighter jet than with a vehicle meant for the ground. And there’s no secret about the marketing. Walter DeSilva, the head of design, explains, “[This car] is designed purely for hyper-sophisticated people who want only the most extreme and special things in the world. It represents hedonism taken to the extreme” (David Undercoffler, LA Times).

“Hedonism taken to the extreme.” So there you have it. This car is about pleasure. That deep craving in our souls for happiness — the craving we all have — that’s what is behind this automobile. That is the bait held out for the few who can afford it. You are not really seeking pleasure until you sit behind this wheel.

But we know that’s an empty promise, on at least two levels.

What Only God Can Do

First, and most fundamental, no car can satisfy a God-shaped void. The quest for pleasure is really a quest for God. He created us to be happy in him. Now, reckon the Lamborghini Egoista this: it would be a fun drive. It’s a beautiful machine. But while it’s a fruit of human ingenuity to be enjoyed, it’s not the place to search for the joy we need. While it offers a good experience, even if just to a thin slice of the human population, it’s not the destination of anyone’s deepest longings. That craving is satisfied in God alone. The real pursuit of pleasure must connect the most profound appetites of our being to the One by whom, in whom, and for whom we exist. God is our joy. God. Every other search is a dead-end road, no matter how fast we can drive it.

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