To talk about the history of Lamborghini Automobili one must also discuss the background of the main founder of this famous company, Ferruccio Lamborghini. He was born in 1916 to grape farmers in Northern Italy and as he grew older he too became involved in the family business. Ferruccio’s farming experience meant he would end up working with tractors and helping to fix them, a skill that would lead him to his own success and his becoming a wealthy young man in his own right.
However, before Lamborghini would have the opportunity to make his fortune he was drafted into the Italian Royal Air Force as a mechanic in 1940 for the Second World War. Near the end of the war Ferruccio was taken as a prisoner of war when the island where he was stationed was captured by the British. Eventually Lamborghini returned home after the war and married but suffered further loss when his wife died whilst giving birth to their first child.
Young Ferruccio had vision but he also had the conviction of his beliefs and a deep well of ability from which to draw. Following the end of the Second World War Lamborghini set about creating and launching his own tractor factory.
The tractor factory made headlines in the industry and functioned as a focal point. The tractor manufacturing industry had been kind to Lamborghini and had helped to make his fortune. Being seen as synonymous with tractors it was perhaps understandable that many were confused when Lamborghini announced he wanted to work on a factory that would build luxury sports cars.
Before the war Lamborghini had been very interested in motor racing and was very adept at reworking regular cars to compete in races. After returning from the war he converted a Fiat Toppolina into a 750cc competitor which he raced in the 1948 Mille Miglia. Lamborghini lasted 700 miles before crashing into the side of a restaurant, an event which dampened his enthusiasm for racing somewhat.
Despite his passion for sports cars many saw Lamborghini as taking a step into the unknown by embarking upon a business in the luxury sports car industry. Those closest to him feared he would lose his fortune without ever seeing a profit from the venture. Nevertheless Lamborghini embarked upon the project and in 1963 he launched Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini and had bought the land necessary to construct a large and modern factory to meet the needs of his sports cars.
With the offices positioned adjacently to the central manufacturing hub Lamborghini could keep an eye on production and get involved if he spotted something not being done to his satisfaction. With this level of attention the first car produced by Lamborghini arrived only months after the decision to build the factory. The car was presented at the Turin Auto Show in November 1963. Designed by two keen young engineers and using the best V12 engine available the 350 GTV was an immense success at the show. Subsequently the engine would be improved to a four-litre model with the 400GT model.
Between 1965 and 1966 the company continued to roll out new models, even if a lot of them were prototypes.
At the 1965 Turin Auto Show Lamborghini showed off a revolutionary new chassis design that surprised many. The design was brought to Lamborghini by two young designers who had a vision of placing the engine behind the cockpit and having the gearbox and differential built with the engine base as a single piece. Upon seeing the chassis at the show Nuccio Bertone, the coach-builder, offered to work with Lamborghini to build the rest of the car around this chassis.
The resulting vehicle was called the Miura. Lamborghini was a fan of bullfighting and the Miura bulls are known as being amongst the strongest of the fighting bulls.
Just four months after revealing the prototype chassis in Turin the final road car was presented at the Lamborghini stand at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show.
Soon after the Geneva Motor Show Lamborghini took the new car to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix to show it off. He was not to be disappointed as the orders rolled in and the near future for the brand could be mapped out with more optimism. While the 400GT had been well-received it was the Miura that gave the Lamborghini automobile brand the unique standing that set it apart from the rest and brought the young company a slew of orders and cashflow.
Lamborghini would continue to add new models to the line-up and impress audiences and car enthusiasts around the world for decades to come. The company would go on to be considered the epitome of excess and as having a spirit bolder than those of other automotive companies. Despite the decades and the changes of ownership this spirit remains undimmed with recent success at the Geneva Motorshow of 2014 where the Huracan LP610-4 was revealed and redefined the luxury sports car niche.