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Ferruccio Lamborghini

Ferruccio Lamborghini was born in Italy in 1916. He was fascinated with engines from an early age. During World War II he joined the army and was stationed on the island of Rhodes. Fortunately there was little going on there during the war.  The island was essentially isolated from the rest of the world. Any cars, trucks or motorcycles that broke down had to be repaired on the spot with reused parts.  Lamborghini became known as a wizard at mechanical improvisation and became very much in demand at fixing engines.
After the war he returned to his home near Modena in northern Italy and setup a small car and motorcycle repair shop.  He soon realized that there was a desperate need for tractors in the agricultural area in which he lived. He found he could build about one tractor a month from derelict military vehicles. As Italy's economy grew demand for his high quality tractors started to grow. He began building his own tractor engines. His tractor business became very successful reaching a rate of over 400 a month in 1960. He soon looked at expanding the business and in 1960 began manufacturing heaters and air conditioning units for buildings as well as maintaining the tractor business. This too became very successful.
About this time Lamborghini started to get interested in developing a high performance car. He had owned Oscas, Maseratis and Ferraris but was always disappointed with them.  Particularly their engines. There is a now famous story about how he was frustrated with problems he had with a clutch in a Ferrari (a Ferrari 250 GT), and went to visit Enzo Ferrari who's factory was nearby. Enzo had no time for a tractor manufacture and simply dismissed him. Lamborghini decided there was nothing Ferrari was doing he could not do better. He decided too build his own car with a V12 engine.  For the design he found a very talented engineer named Giampaolo Dallara who had previously worked on a Ferrari V12 engine. 

The new engine had 4 cams, a short stroke and 4 big bore valves per cylinder.  It developed a surprising 350 HP. It was an all aluminum engine with a crankshaft supported by seven main bearings. These crankshafts were machined from SAE 9840 steel.  The connecting rods (12) were of SAE 4340 steel. The pistons were of forged aluminum. Each pair of camshafts were driven by their own half engine speed sprocket and silent chain.  This engine was really the prototype for all future Lamborghini engines. A body designed by Scaglione-Touring was used to house the engine.

The Lamborghini "350 GTV" prototype was shown to the public on the Turin Auto Show of 1963. Sales started the following year. The car was called the 350 GT. It was a complete success.  Over 130 were sold.The future of Automobili Lamborghini looked very bright during the sixties. The 350 GT was succeeded by the 400 GT and then the  400 GT 2+2.  The 350 GT and 400 GT 2+2 made the Lamborghini name known throughout the world. With the funds coming in from these cars and his successful tractor business Ferruccio allowed his engineers to design and construction a new car - the Lamborghini Miura. The Miura made the Lamborghini name legendary. It was a car truly ahead of its time. It shocked even companies like Ferrari and Maserati.

The Miura was first shown on November 1965 at the Turin Auto Show by Ferruccio Lamborghini himself. Only the chassis was shown at the show, the engine was transversely mid-mounted, something up to then only seen in real F1 race cars. The design of the body was executed by Marcello Gandini in less than a year, and on the March 1966 Geneva Show it was completed and on display. It looked even better than in Turin. The car was very aggressively styled, and an appropriate name was chosen for it, the Miura, a name taken from the ferocious Spanish fighting bulls.  Again the car was a complete success.

This was followed in 1973 at the Geneva Auto Show when Lamborghini shocked the world again with his revolutionary LP400 Countach. Only a prototype was shown. Today it is difficult to realize the impact that car had on everybody at that time. Even now the car is a show stopper! The car at the show was painted in a bright red and with a black suede interior. It showed for the first time, the by now, famous, Lamborghini signature swing up doors. It also displayed unique vertically mounted rear air intakes to go with its powerful 4 Liter engine.

In 1974 disaster struck.  The Lamborghini tractor business received a major setback. A massive order for tractors to a south American country was cancelled. Lamborghini anticipating the demand, had previously upgraded the tractor factory to be able to build the numbers of tractors required. The company lost a lot of money over it. Compounding things also at this time was a series of labor problems at the factory. While his personal fortune was still considerable he decided to sell part of his share in the factory. Eventually the factory was taken over by Fiat.

During the seventies the company survived on sales of Miura's. The car business started to be self sufficient and make money.  However Lamborghini eventually sold all his remaining stock in the company to a Swiss investor.  The company to this day still retains his name however.  Ferruccio Lamborghini died in February 1993 at the age of almost 76

The oil crisis of the 70's started to made sales of high performance cars difficult.  Production art the factory was plagued with budget and parts supply problems.  People gave up waiting for cars with two year back orders. A wealthy Canadian, Walter Wolf,  played a major role is supporting Lamborghini and developing the Countach during these difficult times.

In 1978 the company declared bankruptcy. An Italian court was appointed to find a buyer.  A Swiss based group called the Mimran brother's were able to save the factory. Patrick Mimran (one of the brothers),  in 1980 started to turn the company around. The Countach was developed further under him from the LP500 S right up to the impressive QuattroValvole. .

Just as things were going well, the Mimran brothers sold the company to Chrysler Corporation.  This was a big surprise at the time.  Chrysler support however was just what the company needed at that time. They were working on a Countach successor --  the Diablo. Chrysler kept the winning team together in Italy. While the cultures of the two companies were different and things got stressful between the management groups, they did succeed in bringing the vast resources of Chrysler to bear on the  design, pollution controls, and new manufacturing techniques etc. for the new car.

Again the result was an outstanding success. The new Lamborghini Diablo got rave reviews everywhere it went.  However in another twist of faith, in 1994 Chrysler fell upon hard times and had to sell the company. It was bought by an Indonesian investment group headed by Tommy Suharto of the well known Suharto family.  Unfortunately in the late 90's an economical crisis started to hit the Indonesian owners hard and the much needed money for research on a successor to the Diablo started to dry up.

Fortunately the German company Audi had an interest in Lamborghini. On August 4 1998, in a complex series of transactions Audi AG became the sole owner of Automobili Lamborghini. As in the case of the Chrysler buyout, this could not have been a better time for Lamborghini. Audi took an active role in designing the Murcielago and brought to the table again the vast resources of a major automobile company to develop and produce another exotic car.

Lets hope this is the last chapter of ownership changes in this unique little Italian car company.  It is to the credit of the people there that they have hung in to all the changes of ownership they have experienced over the years and yet produced such exciting cars.

 

Lamborghini Cars Over The Years
Year Car Name Photograph Number of Cars Made
1993 359 GTV (prototype) 2 were built
1964
350 GT
125 were made over the years.
1965
350 GT
350 GTS 
3500 GTZ (prototype)
About 24 GTS's were finally produced.
1966
350 GT
400 GT
400 GT 2+2
Miura P400
400 GT Monza (prototype)
250 of the 400 GT 2+2's cars were manufactured.

1967
400 GT
400 GT 2+2
Miura P400
Marzal (prototype)
764 Miura P400's were made over the years.
1968
400 GT 2+2
Miura P400
Espada 400 GT (Series I)
Islero 400 GT
Miura ZN75 (prototype)
1217  Espada's  were made.
1969
Miura P400
Miura P400 S
Espada 400 GT (Series I)
Espada 400 GTE (Series II)
Islero 400 GT
Islero 400 GTS
  140 Miura P400S's were made.
1970
Miura P400 S
Espada 400 GTE (Series II)
Islero 400 GTSJarama 400 GT
Urraco P250 (prototype)
Miura JOTA (prototype)
About 225 400 GT Islero's were made.
1971
Miura P400 S
Miura P400 SV
Espada 400 GTE (Series II)
Jarama 400 GT
Countach LP500 (prototype)
150 Miura P400 SV's were made.
1972
Miura P400 SV
Urraco P250
Espada 400 GTE (Series II)
Espada 400 GTE (Series III)
Jarama 400 GT
Jarama 400 GTS
327  Jarama's were built
1973
Urraco P250
Espada 400 GTE (Series III)
Jarama 400 GTS
Countach LP400 (prototype)
676 Urraco's were built
1974
Urraco P250
Urraco P300
Espada 400 GTE (Series III)
Jarama 400 GTS
Countach LP400
Urraco P200 (prototype)
1840 Countach's were made.
1975
Urraco P250
Urraco P300
Urraco P200
Jarama 400 GTS
Espada 400 GTE (Series III)
Countach LP400
 
1976
Urraco P250
Urraco P300
Urraco P200
Jarama 400 GTS
Espada 400 GTE (Series III)
Countach LP400
Silhouette
55 Sihouette's were built
1977
Urraco P300
Urraco P200
Espada 400 GTE (Series III)
Countach LP400
Silhouette
 
1978
Countach LP400
Countach LP400 S
Silhouette
Espada 400 GTE (Series III)
Urraco P300
235 Countach LP400S's were made
1979
Urraco P300
Countach LP400 S
Silhouette
1980
Countach LP400 S
Athon (prototype)
1981
Countach LP400 S
Jalpa 3500
LM001 (prototype)
410 Jalpa's were built
237 LP400S's were built
1982
Countach LP400 S
Countach LP500 S
Jalpa 3500
LM002 (prototype)
1983
Countach LP500 S
Jalpa 3500
1984
Countach LP500 S
Jalpa 3500
A total of about 321 LP500S's were built
1985
Countach LP500 S
Countach 5000 QV
Jalpa 3500
610 Countach 5000 QV's were made over the years.
1986
Countach 5000 QV
Jalpa 3500
LM002
328 LM002's were built
1987
Countach 5000 QV
Jalpa 3500
LM002
1988
Countach 5000 QV
Countach 25th. Anniversary Model
Jalpa 3500
LM002
Over 657 Countach 25th Anniversary Models were made
1989
Countach 25th. Ann.
LM002
1990
Countach 25th. Ann.
Diablo 2WD
LM002
1991
Diablo 2WD
LM002
A total of over 2989 Diablo's were manufactured over the years.
1992
Diablo 2WD
LM002
1993
Diablo 2WD
Diablo VT
Diablo SE30 (prototype)
 
1994
Diablo 2WD
Diablo VT
Diablo SE30
LM004 (prototype)
135 Diablo SE30's were made
1995
Diablo 2WD
Diablo VT
Diablo SV
Diablo VT Roadster
Diablo SE30 Jota
Calá (prototype)
15 Diablo SE30 JOTA's were made
1996
Diablo 2WD
Diablo VT
Diablo SV
Diablo VT Roadster
1997
Diablo 2WD
Diablo VT
Diablo SV
Diablo VT Roadster
1998
Diablo 2WD
Diablo VT
Diablo SV
Diablo VT Roadster
Canto (prototype)
 
1999
Diablo VT
Diablo SV
Diablo VT Roadster
Diablo GT
Diablo GTR (prototype)
2000
Diablo VT
Diablo VT Roadster
Diabo VT 6.0
Diablo GTR
Audi took over the factory
32 Diablo GTR's were made
2001
Diabo VT 6.0
Diabo VT 6.0 SE
Murciélago
  Models built in 2001:-
337 units of the Diablo VT 6.0
44 Diablo VT6.0 SE's were made

65 units of the new Murcielago since June 2001
(59 sold to the public, 6 remained property of the factory)
 
2002
Murciélago
Models built in 2002:-
442 Murcielago's
 

2003

Gallardo Models built in 2003:-
425 Murcielago's

890 Gallardo's

2004

Murciélago Roadster Models built in 2004:-
304 Murcielago's
80 Murcielago Roadster's

1294 Gallardo's
 

2005

Gallardo Spider
Models built in 2005:-
464 Murcielago's
(Both Coupé and Roadster)
 
978 Gallardo's

2006

Murciélago LP640
 

This page was last modified on 03/12/2014