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History of Lamborghini

Did you know that the suave Italian Lamborghini – favoured by Batman - is in actual fact a result of a tractor manufacturer’s frustration with Ferrari? You couldn’t make this one up!

Let’s start at the very beginning

It was during World War 2 that founder and namesake Ferruccio Lamborghini began formulating the plan for Lamborghini. Based on a Greek Island and in charge of vehicle maintenance, Ferruccio soon picked up a reputation for his excellent and resourceful mechanical skills.

Upon arriving home, he decided to use his experience to start manufacturing tractors. They went down a storm and business was booming. So much so, that Ferruccio decided to treat himself to a Ferrari 250GT. Frustrated by the clutch he requested a replacement and received some shoddy customer service - the exact quote, as you can imagine, varies from the mildly to the wildly insulting! Whatever words were exchanged, they led to Ferruccio designing his own sports car: Lamborghini 350GTV. Take that!

Cultivating cool

Lamborghini is simply suave. Its image has undoubtedly been helped along by a host of cool cats in the early days, including the likes of Rod Stewart, Dean Martin and the coolest of all: Frank Sinatra, who once famously said: "You buy a Ferrari when you want to be somebody. You buy a Lamborghini when you are somebody," boom!

The engine-less 350GTV

The first Lamborghini 350GTV was created in time for the 1963 Turin Motor Show. Due to an ongoing disagreement with his engine designer, Ferruccio sent the car to the show without an actual engine. Instead, it was filled with bricks so it would sit at the appropriate height. The 350GTV was received favourably, despite the lack of engine.

Get bullish

Born on 28th April, Ferruccio was a Taurus, described as “Taurus is a strong business person. Taurus is the one who has immense perseverance, even when others have given up, the Taurus rages on.” Clearly a fan of his star sign, the raging bull motif is everywhere: from the logo to the names of the cars.

The downturn

The early 70s saw the rise of the oil crisis and the demise of demand for fuel sucking supercars. Sales of Lamborghini plummeted as consumers opted for smaller, economical cars. In 1974, Ferruccio sold his last 49% stake in the company and retired to a lake house in central Italy.

As for Lamborghini, things seemed to go from bad to worse; in 1978 they filed for bankruptcy and in 1980 were placed in liquidation. Luckily for Lamborghini, a pair of car mad Swiss brothers showed interest and were appointed to administer the business during its receivership. The Mimran brothers reworked a few cars so they were able to be sold in the US and began work restructuring the company. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, and they had to seek investment from outside. In 1987 the company was acquired by the auto giant Chrysler for $25.2 million. By 1993 they too had had enough, and like hot potato, the company was passed over to the Indonesian company Mega Tech. A few years later, Asia was in the throes of a financial crisis and so Mega Tech sold the company.

The then new chair of Volkswagen AG went on a shopping binge in 1988, scooping up Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini. Volkswagen subsidiary AUDI AG acquired Lamborghini in 1998 and that takes us up to now!

What does the future hold for Lamborghini? Nobody knows, but we’ve got a sneaking suspicion its going to charge on bullishly as ever! 

Offbeat  11/08/2015 09:04:40

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