Saturday, January 11, 2014
Before Lamborghini was a household name synonymous with luxury supercars, it began life from surprisingly humble origins. The company was founded in 1963 by northern-Italian mechanic, Ferruccio Lamborghini, who had previously served as an engineer in the Italian Royal Air Force during World War 2. His earliest efforts in the auto world consisted of building tractors with excess wartime armoury materials under the name ‘Lamborghini Trattori S.p.A’. The company’s agricultural success meant the business quickly became one of Italy’s largest suppliers of farming equipment, and soon the company’s goals extended into other areas of manufacture, like producing gas heaters and air-conditioners.
Lamborghini's sudden wealth allowed him many financial benefits, including his purchasing an array of sports cars. However, his entrance into the world of supercars was not planned out. It was Ferrari’s decision to dismiss a complaint that he made about one of the cars he bought which caused him to challenge their authority and develop vehicles of his own.
Lamborghini decided that the admired engineering firm, Società Autostar, would be the perfect choice for producing the V12 engine vehicles he would need his cars to have if he was going to compete against Ferrari’s designs made by renowned engineer Giotto Bizzarini, who he hired to make his vision become a reality. However, Lamborghini made an additional judgement that helped further his name in the auto world; this was the plan to give as much attention to developing domestic cars as much as racing cars. Lamborghini did not like the work Bizzarini produced, believing the engine's revolutions were too high, a design that would ultimately introduce the level of race car power that he wanted his domestic cars to avoid. Bizzarrini declined to alter his designs resulting in Lamborghini refusing to pay the Società Autostar Corporation, beginning a long feud between the two companies.
The Lamborghini 350GTV
As the Lamborghini company grew, the organisation moved to a larger location in the Italian town of Sant'Agata Bolognese, part of Italy’s thriving industrial area. The region was chosen as Lamborghini's new home due to the city's communist party promising the company a 19% interest rate on all bankable finances and with zero tax on all profits in return for Lamborghini allowing their factory employees to become union members.
Lamborghini decided to revise the 350GTV with help from Milan based company, Carrozzeria Touring, which set about restyling the vehicle's bodywork. The finished car was unveiled at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show to widespread adulation, and by the end of the year Lamborghini was steadily selling the vehicle despite the financial losses it occurred due to Lamborghini's need to compete with the prices at Ferrari. When production of the 350GT finished in 1965, a total of 120 of the 350GTV had been sold.
Naturally these successes were only minor compared to the great Lamborghini driving experiences the company produced in later years, but the company’s having risen from a small agricultural company to a major sports car manufacturer makes for a truly amazing beginning.
Liam Brennan is a blogger who writes extensively about the history of sports car brands. He recommends DriveMe.co.uk for booking supercar driving experiences.