History Of The Lamborghini
Few things in the world are as beautiful and stunning as a Lamborghini sports car. The aerodynamic low-cut design, the ‘scissor-doors’ that rise into the air, the sleek style and high polish along with an assortment of recognizable shapes. Each of these qualities work together to make a Lamborghini a truly impressive work of art. Just glancing at one is enough to pique a person’s interest and make them want to know who created them and to discover their full history.
When asked what kind of man he was, Ferruccio Lamborghini once responded: “A normal chap. A man who likes creating things.” Ferruccio became fascinated with mechanics at a young age and took a special interest in the tractor his father owned. Later he attended a technical school in Bologna, and then when WWII broke out he joined the Italian Air Force. During that time he became a prisoner of war to the British forces, and they quickly recognized his mechanical talent and put him to work fixing their engines.
After the war Lamborghini returned home and resumed his interest in tractors, quickly learning how to build them from the ground up. He established a tractor business and called the company Lamborghini Trattori S.p.A, which became highly profitable. He even organized tractor pulls in the area to showcase his machine’s level of power and high performance. Once his tractor business reached a certain level of success, he branched out into a heating and air conditioning business, and it too was successful. Because of his various businesses, Lamborghini was soon one of Italy’s wealthiest men.
But he also loved fast cars. Ferruccio already owned several high performance sports cars, such as a Jaguar, a Mercedes, and a Ferrari. He had even built his own automobile after returning from the war, by converting a Fiat 500 motor into a 750cc motor and adding a bronze overhead-valve cylinder. He dubbed the car “Testa d’Oro”, which means Golden Head, due to the color of the bronze. In 1957, he and another driver raced the vehicle he built in the Mille Miglia, which is a race 1,000 miles long. After completing more than two-thirds, they crashed into the front of a cafe, and Ferruccio said he was through with racing.
Awhile later, Lamborghini encountered a mechanical problem with the clutch in his Ferrari, and he decided to pay a visit to Enzo Ferrari’s shop to report the problem. At this point, there are two versions as to what happened next. The first is that Enzo refused to see Lamborghini at all. But the second is that they met and after Lamborghini complained about the faulty clutch, Ferrari responded, “What does a tractor maker know about sports cars? You should stick to tractors and let me build the sports cars.”
Insulted, Lamborghini left and worked on his bad clutch himself and noticed that the clutches used in his tractors were the same type used in his Ferrari. So he took parts from an old tractor clutch and used them to fix his car. Then he examined the engine of his Ferrari thoroughly; and because Enzo had insulted him, he decided to try his hand at building his own sports cars – to get revenge on Ferrari and to outdo him, hoping his sports cars would out perform and be more popular than Ferrari’s.
On the official Lamborghini web site they sum up the company’s history fast and simple by saying: “The others weren’t good enough.” In 1963, Ferruccio went to Sant’Agata Bolognese, an Italian village near Bologna, and started his company which he called Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. Being greatly influenced by high performance race cars, even though he didn’t intend his vehicles to be raced, Ferruccio wanted each of them to be able to reach speeds of 150 mph on the open highway. He once stated in an interview that to achieve his superior Lamborghini engine, all he did was take the Ferrari 12-cylinder and combine it with the twin cam head of the 4-cylinder Alfa Romeo, thereby creating the greatest motor in the world.
The first car Ferruccio released was the Lamborghini 350GT (Grand Touring), and with it he succeeded in improving upon every defect he noticed in Ferrari’s cars. The 350GT’s main highlights were its high-revving 3.5 litre quad-cam V-12 engine and its independent rear suspension; and the entire vehicle got rave reviews from fans and critics alike.
The third model Ferruccio released was the Miura, which remained his favorite throughout his life. The model was a huge hit at the 1965 Turin Motor Show, even with only the chassis on display, and many orders for the car were placed. What set the Miura apart was that it used a mid-engine layout in which the engine is located behind the passenger area, where it drives the rear wheels. Miura was named after the ranch in Spain known for producing highly aggressive bulls. (The reason many of Lamborghini’s models are named after some aspect of bulls is that he loved the animals and had the Zodiac sign of Taurus, not that he was a supporter of bull fighting.)
The Lamborghini company went on to make many innovative models over the years; the names of which are listed here, along with the years they were introduced: •350GTV (1963) | 350GT (1964) •400GT (1965) | Miura (1966) •Flying Star II (1966) | Marzal (1966) •Espada (1968) | Islero (1968) •Jarama (1970) | Countach (1974) •Bravo (1974) | Silhouette (1976) •Jalpa (1982) | LM002 (1986) •Diablo (1990) | Cala (1995) •Murciélago (2001) | Gallardo (2003) •Murciélago LP640 (2006) | Murciélago Roadster (2006)
The unique and impressive Lamborghini body designs have been made by several different companies and individuals through the years, such as Luc Donckerwolke, Franco Scaglione, ItalDesign, Zagato, Mario Marazzi, Touring of Milan, and Marcello Gandini.
The Countach model that came out in 1974 has some especially interesting history. It was named after a profane phrase in the Piedmontese dialect that expresses surprise; the word ‘countach’can be roughly translated into the American exclamation, “Holy Smoke!” and is pronounced “COON-tosh.” This phrase is supposedly what the workers in the Lamborghini factory said about the vehicle as they rolled off the assembly lines.
There is also a famous version of the Countach Lamborghini known as the ‘Wolf Countach,’ of which only three were ever made. Walter Wolf was the owner of the F1 racing team and also a wealthy businessman. He asked the lead engineer at Lamborghini to create a very powerful version of the Countach, and he came up with the Wolf model that could reach speeds of 315 km per hour.
Lamborghini’s ‘scissor-style’ doors were introduced with the Countach model, which have special hinges that make the doors open by lifting up and tilting forward. Mostly the scissor doors are only for style purposes; but they are also effective since the cars are so wide and they make it easier for passengers to exit the vehicle when parked in tight spaces.
The Diablo model also has an interesting background. Introduced in 1990, it was designed to replace the Countach model and was originally sold at a price of $240,000. It has 492 horsepower and requires only 4 seconds to reach speeds of 60 mph, while its maximum is 202 mph. Miraculously, it can reach speeds of up to 65 mph in first gear alone! It is also an all-wheel drive vehicle and not Turbo-charged.
Ferruccio sold his Lamborghini sports car company in 1972, and retired to Perugia in Southern Italy where he started a wine company that went on to produce over 800,000 bottles of wine every year. The Volkswagen Group (Audi) now owns the Lamborghini company and has ever since 1998.
It is interesting to note that before Ferruccio took up manufacturing sports cars, he was especially interested in building prototypes of helicopters, and was trying to get the government to grant him a license so he could develop a commercial helicopter company. But after the government denied him the helicopter license, he started his company Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
Ferruccio Lamborghini died in February 1993 in Perugia when he was 75 years old, but his stunning sports cars will always live on. VIGOROUS