Lamborghini’s roller-coaster ride to the 80’s

Lamborghini became the company we know today, through the birth of their first true supercar, the Miura; however, the legend has quite a few, although not very well known, but particularly exquisite predecessors. The first car created by Lamborghini, was of course the 1963 350 GTV (Automobili Lamborghini 2014). This was followed by the 1964 350 GT, which was the new road going version. The car also spawned quite a few variations through the subsequent next few years before the Miura in 1966. (Lambocars 2000-2013)

Just a quick year later, in 1965, came the 3500 GTZ, which was designed by Zagato and shared similar looks to the Ferrari 250 GTO. It was presented at the 1965 London Auto show, and was one of only a few models designed by Zagato. Lamborghini favoured Bertone design, and therefore was the go-to design firm for most of the designs not only of the time, but throughout its history. (Lambocars 2000-2013) In the same year, the Turin Auto show also previewed the 350 GTS, which was a convertible, but unfortunately only 2 units were ever produced. (Lambocars 2000-2013)

13500gt2

1966 saw the brand release an array of great cars, and was one of the best, and most creative periods for Lamborghini as a car company. Beginning the year with the P538, a racecar with a Lamborghini V12, which is one of the most expensive Lamborghinis today. (Lambocars 2000-2013) The 350 GT was also further enhanced into the 400 GT, and its many variations, including the 400 GT 2+2, 400 GT Monza, and 400 GT Flying Star II.

2p538

The most important car of this year, however, was of course the Miura, which was unveiled at the 1965 Turin Auto Show. Nuccio Bertone, was at that show as well, and being an expert of engines and cars, saw great opportunity for the new chassis and for Lamborghini as a whole. It is said that he approached Ferruccio and said “I’m the one who can make the shoe to fit your foot”. (Nuccio Bertone 1965 cited in Automobili Lamborghini 2014) This marked the beginning of a new era in supercar design for decades to come.

1967, orders for the Miura came pouring in, creating a massive amount of publicity for the company, as well providing a lot of cash, allowing Lamborghini to invest in the future. Lamborghini had become a symbolic name, and gained the reputation of always going further no matter what, and not adhering to conventional limitations that other companies were so bound by. (Automobili Lamborghini 2014)  People took great notice of the Miura, and orders were even made by people such as Rod Stewart, Dean Martin, Saudi King Fahd, and Frank Sinatra. (Miller 2014)

3Miura

This year also saw the birth of cars such as the Marzal, created by Bertone and Gandini. This was a 4-seater, rear engined marvel, featuring the first ever gullwing doors. The vertically opening doors were adapted over time, and thus became the famous Lambo doors, which we know today to be a signature of all high end Lamborghini cars. The Miura Roadster and Islero 400 GT, a follow up of the original 400 GT were also introduced but were overshadowed by the all new Espada GT. The car featured a front-engined, 2-seater layout, and was a revolutionary wonder in terms of design and one of the most successful works of Marcello Gandini. (Automobili Lamorghini 2014)

4marzal5espada

By 1969, the Miura, had seen developments and improvements, which gave birth to the all new Miura S. Apart from its more lavish and new leather interior, the car had a higher power output, as well as electric windows. Furthermore, the Islero GT also attained an upgraded version, which became the Islero GTS although was only produced in limited numbers . (Automobili Lamorghini 2014)

By the start of the 1970’s the two main cars, were the Miura S and updated Espada GTE in the line up. Ferruccio, however, wanted an in between car, and thus the Jarama was created, a 2+2 true Italian GT car. Expectations of customers had now been of the all-out, supercar style of Lamborghini, and therefore, the Jarama became second to the brand new P250 Urraco prototype unveiled at the 1970 Turin Auto show. Again, designed by Bertone, this car had a lower price than the Miura, and featured a great power figure, and thus orders poured in. This reflected in the expansion of the Lamborghini factory in Sant’Agata, adding nearly half a square kilometre of extra factory floor space. (Automobili Lamorghini 2014)

6p250urraco

Also in 1970, the Miura saw a further enhancement in the form of a Jota model. A lightweight, stripped out, racing car made for the road. It was the brainchild of Bob Wallace, Lamborghini’s New Zealand test driver. The car was a hard-core street racer, which was capable of accelerating to 100km/h in a mere 3.4 seconds. (Automobili Lamorghini 2014)

Subsequently, this was followed by the last hurrah, for the Miura, in SV spec in 1971, although didn’t turn many heads at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. No, this show was absolutely and savagely stolen by the brand new, and ultimate supercar, a dream car and poster pin up; the Lamborghini Countach. With its revolutionary geometric design, flat windscreen and roof, running seamlessly into the engine hood, it was an absolutely breathtaking new and innovative design. (Automobili Lamorghini 2014) It is rumoured that even the name derived from an incident, whereby the head of Bertone design saw the car, and shouted “Countach”, which is said to translate to something like “Oh My God”, or “Bloody Hell”, to show his excitement, and surprise by the looks of the car. (Miller 2014)

8countach

Unfortunately, Italy and in fact the world, was going through some difficult times, with Labour Unions, and thus, factories, which became intolerable to Ferruccio, and subsequently sold off the majority of the company to Swiss Georges-Henri, and the remaining shares to Rene Leimer in 1972. This meant that Ferruccio, the founder, creator, and legendary visionary, the backbone of the company was now out. (Automobili Lamorghini 2014)

The company continued onward, and released a special edition of the Jarama, called the S, and production of the Urraco P250 began. The Espada also saw a further developed model come into production, this time being the series III GTE, although would become the very last 4-seater Lamborghini for decades to come.

The Countach LP400 was debuted in 1973 and managed to be the only thing keeping up sales for the company for years to come, although, was also considered too lavish and excessive, as the Arab-Israeli War created a concern over petrol supplies. This event, also gave birth to the Urraco P200, a toned down 2-litre derivative, and the P300, the 3-litre version, of the previous P250. (Automobili Lamborghini 2014)

In 1974, Bertone, made a design study car, named the Lamborghini Bravo, destined to become the successor of the P300 Uracco. It was essentially a simplified, futuristic version of the Countach, and the later Countach actually ended up adopting the wheels. (Lambocars 2000-2013) The car remained a one off, but from it, bloomed a new joint project with Lamborghini, to create a Urraco with a removable roof, this car became the Silhouette P300. (Automobili Lamborghini 2014)

9bravo

Times were looking rough by this stage and with commercial complications, sales were dropping. Wanting to keep up the cash flow and to make better use of the equipment, Lamborghini went into collaboration with BMW Motorsport in 1976, to produce a mid-mount engined supercar, however this companionship diminished by 1977. In a desperate move, the owners decided to try and get a contract from the US Military, to manufacture an off-road vehicle. They strayed away from the norm, and designed the first off road Lamborghini, for “MTI” (Mobility Technologies International), known as the Cheetah. This car however, faced a lot of complications with manufacturing, legal implications, and quite a few physical qualities and did not become a successful idea, and therefore the entire project was dropped. (Lambocars 2000-2013)

10cheetah

By 1978 the only car Lamborghini was producing was the Countach LP400S, which came as a development of the standard Countach. Essentially two special cars were prepared in 1976, one of them for a Walter Wolf, which eventually became the ‘prototype’ for the Countach S. By the time Mr Wolf had his third custom built Countach, he convinced Lamborghini to produce ‘his’ modified car. Although not following the exact specifications of the Wolf Countach, the S did make use of the same 5.0- litre engine, and Pirelli P7 tyres, however needed a full suspension redesign by Dallara. ( Lambocars 2000-2013) The car was also fitted with large wheelarch extensions, new interior and a new front spoiler. An extremely popular part, was the Wolf spec rear wing, which only became available later on.

Enthusiast though, believe the car changed from the original beautiful, elegant, curved and simple lined car, to a faceted brutal  geometric machine, with wide arches and excessive scoops. Apart from the styling, the 400S had in fact actually decreased in power, as opposed to the standard 400 model, so for this reason production continued for both models. ( Lambocars 2000-2013)

11coutachlp400s

In 1980, however, things were not looking good for Lamborghini. Still a strong believer and supporter of Lambo, Bertone came up with a new concept car. This car was the Athon, and designed by Marc Deschamps, the successor of Gandini, the car was an instant hit with press and the general public. This got people talking and hyping about Lamborghini, but unfortunately it was not to be.  It was an exquisite futuristic open top concept, but was a one off, with no follow up, and now resides in the Bertone museum. (Lambocars 2000-2013)

12athon

The company came closer and closer to bankruptcy, and liquidation, and by February of 1980, it was put into receivership and declared bankrupt. The only received revenue was from the two most important Lamborghini dealerships in the world, for up front orders. At this stage, the court ordered the company to be put into the trust of Jean-Claude and Patrick Mimram, two supercar loving brothers with a sugar empire . In May 1981, the company got sold to Mimram and was promptly renamed ‘Nuova Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini’. (Lambocars 2000-2013) With new ideologies and the availability of financial backing, a reconstruction was set out and things were about to get a whole lot better for Lamborghini throughout the 1980’s. ( Automobili Lamborghini 2014)

 

 

References: 

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/>

2014 Automobili Lamborghini (2014) History 1967-1972 [online]. available from <http://www.lamborghini.com/en/history/1967-1972/>

2014 Automobili Lamborghini (2014) History 1972-1980 [online]. available from <http://www.lamborghini.com/en/history/1972-1980/>

Lambocars (2000-2013) timeline [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/timeline.html>

Lambocars (2000-2013) Zagato – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/prototypes/3500_gtz_by_zagato.html>

Lambocars (2000-2013) 350 GTS – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/classic_gt/350_gts.html>

Lambocars (2000-2013) Bizzarrini P538 – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/prototypes/bizzarrini_p538.html>

Lambocars (2000-2013) Lamborghini Bravo by Bertone – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/prototypes/lamborghini_bravo_by_bertone.html>

Lambocars (2000-2013) Cheetah – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/off_road/cheetah.html>

Lambocars (2000-2013) Countach LP400S – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/countach/countach_lp400_s.html>

Lambocars (2000-2013) Lamborghini Athlon by Bertone – the STORY [online]. available from <http://www.lambocars.com/prototypes/lamborghini_athon_by_bertone.html>

Miller, A. (2014) ‘18 things you didn’t know about Lamborghini’ Supercompressor [online]. available from <http://www.supercompressor.com/rides/18-thigns-you-didn-t-know-about-lamborghini-italian-supercar-facts>

 

Images:

Carstyling.ru (1999) available from <http://www.carstyling.ru/en/car/1965_lamborghini_3500_gtz/images/19627/>

Wallpaperup.com (2011-2014) available from <http://www.wallpaperup.com/uploads/wallpapers/2013/07/13/117803/8c8f62556549431372884f9cdc68acca.jpg>

Silverstoneauctions.com (n.d) available from <https://www.silverstoneauctions.com/1968-lamborghini-miura-p400>

Wood, T. (n.d) ‘1967 Lamborghini Marzal Concept Car Images’. Boldride.com [online] (n.d) available from <http://cdn.boldride.com/lamborghini/1967/lamborghini-marzal-concept.2000×1303.Feb-13-2012_11.13.42.419418.jpg>

Conceptcarz.com (1998-2014) available from <http://files.conceptcarz.com/img/Lamborghini/1968-Lamborghini-Espada-Coupe-Image-04-1680.jpg>

Lambocars.com (2000-2013) available from <http://www.lambocars.com/images/v8_engine/0/urraco_p250_95.html>

Pinterest.com (n.d) available from <https://www.pinterest.com/pin/362539838723137896/>

Favcars.com (2007-2014) available from <http://img.favcars.com/lamborghini/countach/photos_lamborghini_countach_1974_1.jpg>

Flavienachet.blogspot.co.uk (n.d) available from <https://hajdunorb.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/48138-tumblr_m4cdovvjih1r2dcdfo1_1280.png>

Lambocars.com (2000-2013) available from <http://www.lambocars.com/images/off_road/cheetah18.jpg >

Oppositelock.jalopnik.com (n.d) available from <http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–vUZmjRDC–/pwqjhlfpunlsc2baxgfb.jpg> [13 September 2014]

Oldconceptcars.com (n.d) available from <http://oldconceptcars.com/wp-content/uploads/lamborghini_athon_speedster_concept_6.jpg > [13 March 2014]

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s