In order to understand how “Automobili Lamborghini” came to be, we need to know the history of the man behind the company. This man was none other than Ferruccio Lamboghini, born in 1916 in the beautiful town of Modena, Italy (Lamboweb 2014). He was born a Taurus, which actually set the bull as the logo for his company. (Todayifoundout 2013)
At the time of World War II in the early 1940’s, Lamborghini joined the army and was stationed at the Greek, Rhodes island. Being situated just South-West of Turkey, fortunately this area was very calm during the war, almost isolated from the rest of world. It was here that Lamborghini became known as a wizard at mechanical improvisation, he was a genius at repairing all the broken cars, trucks and motorcycles which had to be done using reused part, and on the spot. (Lamboweb 2014)
After World War II, he returned to his hometown of Modena, and opened up a small car and motorcycle repair shop. Soon enough he realised that there was a massive demand for tractors in the area, which came with the post-war agricultural upswing. Surely enough, Lamborghini started to build himself a name in the tractor manufacturing business. It turned out to become an extremely successful business and soon enough expanded the brand to heaters as well as air conditioners. By 1960 and before his fiftieth birthday (Automobili Lamborghini 2014), he was very wealthy and successful, he had made a name for himself in the industry and owned a collection of super cars.
Lamborghini, however, was never really satisfied with the quality of the cars that he owned. Coming from a mechanical background it wasn’t long until he was taking apart his cars, checking how they worked, how they were built, what chassis and electronics they used, and he decided to make his own supercar, a better supercar. This meant taking on the likes of brands such as Ferrari, Jaguar and Maserati. (MacKenzie 2013)
Naturally, people thought he was mad, and there are several stories as to how this whole idea came to be. The most popular is that, Lamborghini became annoyed that his Ferrari was constantly breaking down, because Ferrari mainly made road cars to support his racing legacy financially, and wasn’t too concerned about the road cars. This sparked an argument between Ferrari and Lamborghini, and he decided to take on Ferrari to show him what a real supercar is meant to be.
Following this incident, Lamborghini decided to bring his supercar company to fruition and founded ‘Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini’ in 1963, and bought a large plot in Sant’Agata, Bolognese to become the official home of the Lamborghini brand. Just a mere 25 kilometers from the city of Bologna, he built an ultra modern factory, with the best facilities for this purpose, and was unrivaled at the time for automotive manufacturing. (Automobili Lamborghini 2014). Although, he had created such an extravagant manufacturing plant, Lamborghini didn’t like to be too far from the action. He built the management offices right next to the Factory building, so he could personally monitor the factory floor and work on the cars himself, to make sure all the cars were up to his standards.
Between setting up shop in the spring of 1963, and the very first official presentation, Lamborghini didn’t have much time. The Turin Auto Show was in the beginning of November in 1963, looming upon them quickly, this meant only a few months to come up with the ultimate supercar of the time. Lamborghini knew this was an enormous challenge, but also knew exactly what he wanted, and therefore got the best people for the job. Giotto Bizzarini, had designed the most recent Ferrari engines of the time, and created the best V12’s in the world, and quickly became the man in charge in terms of engine development at Lamborghini. For this endeavour he also hired Giampaolo Dallara, and Giampaolo Stanazini, two young, abitious and promising upcoming engineers to oversee production and the manufacturing of the rest of the car. (Automobili Lamborghini 2014).
In just a mere 7 months, after the opening of the factory, the first masterpiece was born. In the shape of a concept show car, ready for its debut and ready to put Lamborghini into the history books as a supercar company, the Lamborghini 350 GTV prototype was born. Designed by Franco Scaglione, the car was a sleek Gran Turismo car, and although it was a brilliant first attempt at a car, some critics called it “overdesigned” and “Batmobile”. (MacKenzie 2013)
After receiving these comments and not exactly reaching the expectancies of Ferruccio, the car was then sent to the Carrozeria Touring design firm in Milan for some tweaking Felice Bianchi Anderloni. (MacKenzie 2013). In the next year, 1964, following its first ever debut, a road going version of the car came into production, named the 350 GT. With only 120 350 GT’s built, the car was quickly was succeeded by the new 400 GT. (Automobili Lamborghini 2014)
In 1963 Lamborghini told Italian journalist Athos Evangelisti that; “In the past, I bought some of the most famous GT cars, and found several flaws. They were either; too hot, not very comfortable, not fast enough, or not finished to perfection. Now I want to make a flawless GT. Not a technical marvel, just a very normal, very conventional, perfect car.” (Lamborghini 1963 cited in MacKenzie 2013)
The 400 GT featured a four litre engine, and made use of the first in-house Lamborghini designed gearbox. This car was then developed from a 2 seater GT car, into the 400 GT 2+2, with two extra seats behind the normal ones and reaching a production figure of 273 units. (Automobili Lamborghini 2014). The cars got the attention of the numerous European and American publications and received great reviews. Word got out of the success and quality of Lamborghini and customers soon enough started to take notice (MacKenzie 2013). It was these exquisite cars that got the wheels spinning for Automobili Lamborghini, and became the founding roots of the brands’ rich supercar heritage for decades to come.
Lamborghini started to thrive by 1965, and everyone started to take notice of the beautiful GT cars rolling out of the assembly line. Lamborghini always wanted to make flawless “normal” road going cars and wasn’t interested in concept cars (MacKenzie 2013). This however didn’t deter his two enthusiastic engineers. Getting their inspirations from racing cars of the time, they had been coming up with all sort of new, interesting, innovative and exciting ideas. Their idea was to fit the 400 GT 4 litre V12, transversely, in the middle of the car, behind the cab. This was a revolutionary idea, however, to the surprise of the engineers the 400TP project, was approved and given the go ahead, by Ferruccio. (Automobili Lamborghini 2014)
Thinking that the car would never get more sales than fifty units, Lamborghini thought that it would make for great advertising for the company. Although a great visionary and innovator, even Ferruccio, couldn’t see the potential of this new way of building a car, and the legend that it was to become. This car was of course the almighty Miura; and keeping up to its name, it certainly charged forward with the strength and prowess of the famous Miura Bull. Selling over 500 units, (MacKenzie 2013) the car became a legendary supercar, and the first real predecessor to all modern supercars. Lamborghini had thus created the basis for the future and continuous success for his world renowned supercars.
2014 Automobili Lamborghini (2014) History 1963-1964 [online]. available from <http://www.lamborghini.com/en/history/1963-1964/ >
2014 Automobili Lamborghini (2014) History 1965-1966 [online]. available from <http://www.lamborghini.com/en/history/1965-1966/>
Lamboweb (2014) History [online]. Available from <http://www.lamboweb.com/History.htm>
MacKenzie,A. (2013) ‘50 years of the Raging Bull: A Lamborghini retrospective’ Gizmag [online]. available from <http://www.gizmag.com/lamborghini-history-50-year-anniversary/26808/>
Todayifoundout (2013) Lamborghini cars were a result of a tractor company owner being insulted by the founder of Ferrari [online]. Available from <http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/03/lamborghini-cars-were-a-result-of-a-tractor-company-owners-frustration-with-ferrari/>
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