Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA Ferruccio Lamborghini

FERRUCCIO LAMBORGHINI – THE FOUNDER

He was a man from the country, a lover of fast cars, a sober businessman and a visionary at one and the same time. Ferruccio Lamborghini (1916 – 1993), the founder of the sports car brand, is regarded as being one of the great Italian entrepreneurial personalities of the 20th century and as a person with many facets: a man as fascinating as his cars.

Ferruccio Lamborghini came into the world on 28th April 1916 on a farm in the rural town of Renazzo di Cento near Modena. As a boy Lamborghini already had a burning interest in all mechanical objects. He graduated with an engineering degree from the technical university in Bologna. During the Second World War he was stationed on the Greek island of Rhodes as a ground crew member of the air force.

START AS AN ENTREPRENEUR

1946

After his release from British captivity as a prisoner of war in 1946 Lamborghini opened a workshop near to his home town in which he assembled vehicles similar to tractors from ex-military vehicles. He is said to have had the idea on his honeymoon. Post-war Italy, including the region of Emilia Romagna that was extremely agricultural, suffered from a serious lack of agricultural machinery and Lamborghini threw himself into his new business with ambition, great motivation and a lot of energy.

From the workshop a company arose in 1949 which produced self-developed tractors with two, three and four-cylinder diesel engines. These were modular constructions with numerous interchangeable components. An engine with direct injection was added to the range in 1954. The company Lamborghini Trattori SpA then moved to a new plant. With an output of 400 vehicles per month it was one of the biggest agricultural machinery manufacturers in Italy in the late sixties.

1960

THE SELF-MADE MAN EXPERIENCES A RAPID ASCENT.

Following a journey to the USA Ferruccio Lamborghini broadened his business segment in 1960. A new company, Bruciatori SpA, was formed to manufacture heating and air-conditioning units for private and industrial purposes. This second company also flourished. With the profits from the two business segments Lamborghini attempted to realize a dream, the manufacture of helicopters. However, the government denied him approval for this project.

In 1962 Ferruccio Lamborghini was 46 years old. A self-made man, he had risen to being one of the richest entrepreneurs in Italy. This stocky, energetic man still had both feet firmly on the ground, though. His fellow businessmen and employees valued his intelligence and his sincere, cheerful and sometimes rural direct nature.

THE PASSION FOR FAST CARS

Lamborghini enjoyed his success and the good things in life: good food, fine wines and fast cars. In 1948 he had already built an open sports car on the basis of a tuned Fiat Topolino and took part with this car in the Mille Miglia road race, which was extremely popular in Italy at the time. However, the race ended for car number 427 after about 600 miles, as Lamborghini reported himself, “in a bar which I entered with the car through the wall”.

The story of how Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to make sports cars himself at the end of 1962 has been circulated often and with many variants, legend and truth having become inseparably mixed. Essentially this is what seems to have taken place: Lamborghini owns a collection of powerful Jaguars, Mercedes, Ferraris and Maseratis, but no car completely satisfies him. In one case the luxury is insufficient for him, in another case the ventilation is too weak or the quality inferior or the power transmission noise seems to be too loud for him.

Lamborghini is not even happy with the workmanship on his new Ferrari 250 GT. He requests a meeting with Enzo Ferrari in nearby Maranello, but is refused. He has the GT taken to pieces by his engineers and recognizes that many of the parts used are standard items. Lamborghini thinks that he could build such a sports car very much better himself and, if he were to do without his expensive motor sport, he would even be able to open up a new, profitable business segment.

PRODUCTION STARTS

The first model was naturally put out quickly, given that Lamborghini had only a few months between the time he decided to build the factory and the date set for its official presentation. The event that was chosen for this was the era’s traditional rendezvous, the Turin Auto Show scheduled for the beginning of November 1963. Since Lamborghini had a very clear idea of what he wanted, he didn’t waste any time looking for the right people. For the engine, which had to be the best V12 made in the area – and thus in the world – he immediately turned to Giotto Bizzarrini, who had designed some of Ferrari’s most recent engines. For the rest of the car and to start up production, he hired two promising young engineers, Giampaolo Dallara and Giampaolo Stanzani. This was a considerable endeavour and time was short.

1962

He started working on this project in late 1962, and by May 1963 he had already founded ‘ Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini’, buying a large plot of land in Sant’Agata Bolognese, about 25 kilometres from Bologna, to build a new large and ultramodern factory. Because of the experience he had gained with his other companies, he was in a position to set up the best facilities for his purpose: a very functional structure that, at the time, was unrivalled in its field. The enormous and well-let central building was adjacent to the office building, so that the management could constantly monitor the production situation. This was ideal for Lamborghini, who would often roll up his shirtsleeves and go to work on the cars personally when he saw something that wasn’t done just the way he wanted.

1964

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and HeritageThe 350 GT was born. The immediate and almost inevitable offshoot of the 350 GT, of which 120 were built, was the 400 GT. Its engine was increased to a four-litre model and it featured the first gearbox designed in-house by Lamborghini. Based initially on the two-seater body, which was later developed into the 400 GT 2+2 with two occasional seats behind the two regular ones, the 400 GT reached the respectable overall production figure of 273 units.

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and Heritage

1965 – 1966

THE MIURA: THE GAZE OF A TRUE FIGHTER, SHREWD AND POWERFUL

Thus, by early 1965 the coupes from Sant’Agata were starting to be noticed. This was the first, great phase of the Lamborghini company, and one of its most prolific and creative periods. Between October 1965 and June 1966, the company presented an astonishing number of new models. Although cars like the 3500 GTZ (with a Zegato body), 350 Spyder by Touring and the Monza 400 by Neri and Bonacini were essentially prototypes, the seemingly extravagant chassis presented at the Lamborghini stand during the 1965 Turin Auto Show was destined to have a profound impact on the history of the company and on the entire automotive industry. The design of this chassis can be traced to the enormous enthusiasm of the two young engineers hired by Ferrucio to head the technical department of his factory. Both Dallara and Stanzani were young, passionate and enthusiastic. The trust that Lamborghini placed in them by putting them at the head of this new and extraordinary operation quickly spawned new and more advanced ideas in the minds of the two engineers. These ideas were based on the state of the art in race cars during this period, namely the two-seater sports car. This was indeed the concept of the two young engineers from Bologna: to put a barely tamed version of a full-fledged race car on the road, rather than a reinterpretation of the classic traditional GT. Their project, provisionally codenamed 400 TP, thus had the 4-litre 12 cylinder engine of the 400 GT transversely mounted behind the cockpit, with the gearbox and the differential united to the engine base in a single casting. The chassis was made of bent, welded sheet metal that was drilled to make it more lightweight.

As the story goes, when Lamborghini saw the project he approved it immediately, probably shocking the two very surprised designers, who certainly didn’t dare hope for such a happy ending to their proposal. For once, however, Lamborghini was wrong in his forecast: he declared that a car like that should be built because it would be good advertising for the make, even though it would clearly never sell more than fifty worldwide. Every so often, even the best make mistakes. The chassis was completed rather quickly, and it was exhibited at the Turin Auto Show in October 1965. One person who believed in that chassis, and above all in Lamborghini’s capabilities was Nuccio Bertone. The Turin-based coach-builder was an expert on cars and engines, and as soon as he saw the chassis he approached Lamborghini and said, “I’m the one who can make the shoe to fit your foot”. The two shook hands, and this marked the beginning of an extraordinary adventure.

It was up to Marcello Gandini to interpret Bertone’s ideas, creating a unique and sensational body for the Bologna-built chassis, something that – in its blend of aggressiveness, elegance, originality and class – was to prove unrepeatable: the Miura was born.

No one actually knows why it was given this name. Above all, Ferruccio never wanted to disclose why he came up with the analogy to this breed of extraordinary and powerful bulls, a Spanish bullfighting legend. For someone like him, a man who was born under the sign of Taurus and had used this symbol for the proud logo of all his industrial activities, naming one of his cars after a fighting bull must have come naturally. If anything what is surprising is the fact that, in choosing the first name for his first car that would have enormous international impact, he instinctively chose the best and most appropriate name. According to experts, Miura bulls are by no means ordinary animals. They are the strongest of all fighting bulls but, above all, they are the most intelligent and fiercest ones, in the military sense of the word. In their books, bullfighters often talk about the unmistakable gaze of the Miura bull: the gaze of a true fighter, shrewd and powerful. The name was particularly apt and, with just five letters, it was also very immediate.

Work to ready the Miura immediately proceeded at a feverish pace. Gandini later recounted that from October to February, everyone worked around the clock, seven days a week, like madmen. A major event was coming up and no one wanted to miss the opportunity to present this now model: the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. And therein lay the miracle: that the chassis presented as a completely experimental prototype in the autumn of 1965 had become the most stunning road car in the world – in just four months. The Miura reigned supreme at the Motor Show in Geneva.

Enthusiasm was sky-high and, in a sensational coup, Lamborghini managed to raise it even higher by bringing the Miura to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, the most exciting weekend for sports cars in general and for top-level Italian ones in particular. The orange Miura he parked in front of the Hotel de Paris that Saturday afternoon attract so many oglers that they completely jammed the square in front of the Casino, arousing even more enthusiasm, interest and orders. It was, quite simply, a runaway success.

1967

Lamborghini could now look towards the future far more optimistically. The flood of orders for the Miura pumped new cash into his company, but above all it generated unparalleled interest and publicity.

1968

The presentation of the Miura Roadster at the Brussels Car Show.

1971

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and HeritageDespite this successful evolution, the SV exhibited at the 1971 Geneva Show virtually went unnoticed, and very few credited it with the importance that, over the years, this nearly perfect version of Lamborghini’s super car would acquire. The reason was quite simple: everyone was distracted by an even more spectacular and extraordinary car that proved to be the true star, not only at the Lamborghini stand but throughout the entire show. It was a car created through a stroke of combined genius by Lamborghini and Bertone, which the company’s trusty deputies Stanzani and Gandini brought to life in record time, as usual. This utterly spectacular model was the LP 500, better known as the ‘Countach’.

This was a truly revolutionary car, starting with its line, which was the first thing that left all those who saw it at that Motor Show speechless with admiration. Its sleek and aggressive snout, the flat windscreen connected seamlessly to the front bonnet on one end and the roof on the other, the roof that – in turn – continued over the engine hood, forming a single gradual curve that went from the front fenders to the tail panel of the body. This marked an innovative, astonishing and completely new stylistic concept. Once again, Lamborghini upset preconceived notions.

The changes that were taking place around Lamborghini, however, reflected the social situation around the world, particularly in Italy. Labour unions’ unrest in that period created a difficult situation in all factories, particularly at engineering companies in northern Italy, in which the owner’s control was openly contested and proper organisation became increasing difficult. For Lamborghini, long accustomed to the direct, sometimes rough, somewhat paternalistic but attentive control of his factories, this new situation became intolerable. In 1972 he sold his majority stake to the Swiss Georges-Henri Rossetti, and the following year he sold his remaining shares to a friend, René Leimer. Thus, the company founder – the man who had been the driving force behind its extraordinary, vital explosion during the first eight years – left the scene for good

1972

The P250 Urraco, the 400 GT Jarama, the 400 GT Espada and the P400 Miura SV were in full production. That year, in an attempt to improve sales that were frankly quite disappointing until then, the Jarama hand a 365-hp engine and was dubbed the Jarama S.


1972 – 1973

The sparkling success of the sixties was followed by the crisis of the seventies, triggered by a slack economic situation, strikes and intensified regulations on the U.S. market. A big tractor transaction that had been agreed with the Bolivian government failed at the last moment in 1972. To support his agricultural machinery company, Ferruccio Lamborghini sold 51 per cent of the shares in the motor car company to the Swiss national Georges Henri Rossetti. One year later he sold off the remaining 49 per cent to René Leimer, a colleague of Rossetti. At roughly the same time he lost confidence in the tractor business and sold it to the competing Italian Same group, which continues to manage it up to the present day under the original brand name.


1973

Standard production of the Countach began at the end of 1973 with the bright-green model exhibited at the Paris Motor Show, which is now part of the permanent collection of the Lamborghini Museum. This was the first Countach featuring the large single front windscreen wiper. The model range for 1974 thus included the Countach, the Espada Series III, the Jarama S and the Urraco S.

1978 – 1980

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and Heritageroduction of the Espada ended in 1978, followed by the Urraco and, lastly, also the Silhouette in 1979. Thus, only the S version of the Countach – the one invented by Wolf – was still in production. There was nothing left to be done except to continue with this extraordinary model, which allowed the company to survive despite the fact that business was shrinking. In fact, between 1978 and 1982, a total of 237 units were delivered. For the purposes of comparison, 158 ‘normal’ Countach LP400s were produced between 1973 and 1977.

Bertone still believed in the company, and in 1980 he presented an intriguing study for a completely open car based on the P300: the Athon. The name was intended as a ‘hymn to the sun’, as the car was completely open and had no roof whatsoever, but there was no follow-up to it. The company slid toward bankruptcy and then liquidation. By 1980, Lamborghini was considered finished.

1982

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and HeritageIn 1982, the engine was judiciously moved in front of the cockpit, culminating in the prototype known as the LMA, an acronym that, according to different interpretations, may mean ‘Lamborghini Motore Anteriore’ or ‘Lamborghini Militare Anteriore’.

Although it was costly, work continued to develop the off-road model, which became the LM 004. By this time, it had a colossal 7-litre front-mounted V12 engine and, for the first time, its top speed broke the barrier of 200 km/hour. Pirelli collaborated with Lamborghini to develop a new top-performing tyre that could be used on any terrain, from asphalt to the sands of the great African deserts. This would become the Pirelli Scorpion.

On April 23, 1987, ‘Nuova Automobili Lamborghini Spa’ Was Taken Over By The US Chrysler Company.

The American owners quickly settled in at Sant’Agata and a period of intense activity began, this time in close collaboration with a major automotive industry. The premises were good, although there were a few false steps at the beginning: the prototype of the Portofino. Production of the Quattrovalvole series stopped in 1988, with a total of 631 units. In the meantime, the company gained experience with composite materials and a special Countach, the Evoluzione, demonstrated the full potential of this project. Weight reduction permitted by these new materials, coupled with a more powerful engine achieved above all using new engine technologies management, offered extraordinary performance. Unfortunately, however, the Evoluzione never went into production.

Towards the end of 1987, the French Formula 1 team Larrousse asked Mauro Forghieri, the celebrated designer of Ferrari’s finest models from the Sixties and Seventies, to create a new engine, and he turned to his good friends at Lamborghini with the proposal of embarking on the project together. After obtaining Chrysler’s approval, Forghieri designed his engine, a V12 with a 3.5-litre capacity, the maximum displacement allowed by regulations. Ready within a matter of months, the new engine was officially demonstrated to the public in April 1988.

As a result, even a titled team like Lotus requested Lamborghini engines for the following season. Thanks also to this double supply of engines to two teams, the results for 1990 were nothing short of brilliant. At the end of the British Grand Prix, Bernard won an extraordinary fourth place and Suzuki placed sixth. The Hungarian Grand Prix was even more rewarding for the Lamborghini engines, which placed fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively with Warwick (Lotus), Bernard (Larrousse) and Donnelly (Lotus). Nevertheless, the best placement of the whole season came from Suzuki on his home turf at the Grand Prix in Japan, as he placed third and gave the company its first podium finish. This was the best placement ever achieved by a Lamborghini engine in all its seasons of activity.

Despite Forghieri’s commitment, the American company’s insensitivity to the financial problem led to a progressive decline in automotive performance and the 1991 season ended negatively, with the definitive withdrawal of the Modena F1 Team from the world championship. Now this lovely single-seater can also be admired at the Sant’Agata museum, and it represents one of the most important missed opportunities in the history of Lamborghini.

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and HeritageIn order to celebrate the company’s twenty-fifth anniversary, a commemorative version of the Countach was produced. The Anniversary was the praiseworthy final version of this glorious car, and needless to say, it was welcomed enthusiastically by customers, who purchased no less than 657 units. The Countach’s successor was presented in 1990. The 132 was dubbed the Diablo, the name of a particularly fierce fighting bull of the nineteenth century, and it proved to be up to expectations. The Countach’s follower could not be a conventional car, of course, and it had to be extreme, spectacular, forceful and uncommon: the Diablo, with its 492 hp generated by a 5.7-litre V12, was all this – and more.

1994

Chrysler’s subsequent sudden decision to sell the Bologna company to a group of unknown Indonesian investors seems far more difficult to explain. This change of hands became official on 21 January 1994.

1995

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and HeritageGiorgetto Giugiaro demonstrated the Calà to the trade press, and this was another car with a V10 engine designed to replace the Jalpa. Interesting as it may have been, however, it never left the prototype stage.

1998 Audi and Lamborghini Partnership

In the meantime, Luigi Marmiroli left Lamborghini for personal reasons and Massimo Ceccarani took his place. The need to develop new models and thus to make major investments along these lines was evident. By this time, the Diablo was more than seven years old, a very long time in this difficult market.

Lamborghini turned to several top-level carmakers, including Audi, to request their technical collaboration. The initial idea was to ask for the 8-cylinder engine of the ‘A8’ flagship to power the future ‘baby Lamborghini’, but Audi’s technical staff went back to company headquarters in Germany with very positive reports on the status of the company, its newfound good management and the professional level of the development work being done on its cars.

The first letter of intents between Audi and Lamborghini was signed on 12 June 1998, and the contract for the complete and definitive transfer of all the shares from the last Indonesian shareholder to the German company was completed on 27 July of the same year, just 50 days later.

THE MURCIÉLAGO

2001

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and HeritageThe first major innovation came in 2001 with the successor to the Diablo: the Murciélago. It is almost superfluous to point out that this new model was also named after a famous, fierce fighting bull. The fact that this Spanish word actually means ‘bat’ only serves to augment the dark, almost nocturnal magnetism of this magnificent new car. Its power has also been boosted to 580 hp, and this obviously increases its speed, muscle and acceleration. What has been augmented above all is the sensation of the overall quality of the car, with a level of finishing touches that is even better than the already excellent results of the last Diablos. Sales have immediately gone well, and Lamborghini can count on selling each one it makes, as these cars are reserved by customers well in advance.

The Murciélago is not destined to be alone, but during the wait for its companion in the Sant’Agata model range, several variants have been studied. The first one – and indubitably the most spectacular – is a concept car, a ‘Barchetta’ version presented at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show. It is not simply a Murciélago without the roof, but is essentially a new car, with its beguiling treatment of the rear bonnet and lateral posts. For the time being, it is a concept model, but a modified version will go into production.

2003

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and HeritageThe Gallardo unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. It is equipped with a 500-hp 50-valves V10 engine, permanent four-wheel drive and a top speed of well over 300 km/h. Automobili Lamborghini have decided to baptize their latest model with the name of a fighting bull’s breed: the Gallardo (pron.: ga:yàrdo). Designed to redefine its segment as the best high performance sports car and driving behaviour that fits its driver in every situation. The Gallardo is the synthesis of a true sports car that can be used on an every day basis. While matching these two apparently conflicting objectives, the guideline for Lamborghini engineers has been to fulfil the necessary comfort requirements without any compromise in the performances expected of a true Lamborghini car. The choices for engine, transmission, space frame and body, suspensions, brakes and electronics are then all in line with such an objective. The result is a compact (length 4.3 m) 2-seater high performance car (maximum speed well over 300 km/h), that can be driven with pleasure both on race tracks and on long distance journeys on country and city roads.

2011

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and HeritageLaunched on February 28, 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show, five months after its initial unveiling in Sant’Agata Bolognese, the vehicle, internally codenamed LB834, was designed to replace the ten-year-old Murciélago as the new flagship model.

Soon after the Aventador unveiling, Lamborghini announced that it had already sold over 12 of the production vehicles, with deliveries starting in the second half of 2011.

HURACÁN LP 610-4

The world public debut of the HURACÁN LP 610-4 was at the 2014 Geneva Motorshow. A new era has begun for Automobili Lamborghini and the luxury super sports car segment: this brand-new Lamborghini not only represents the successor to the iconic Gallardo, but also redefine the benchmark for luxury super sports cars in this segment.

Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and Heritage
Lamborghini Newport Beach in Costa Mesa, CA History and Heritage