“In the past I have bought some of the most famous gran turismo cars and in each of these magnificent machines I have found some faults. Too hot, or uncomfortable, or not sufficiently fast or not perfectly finished. Now I want to make a G.T. car without faults. Not a technical bomb. Very normal, very conventional, but a perfect car.” – Ferruccio Lamborghini (1963)
In 1958, tractor builder Ferruccio Lamborghini finally made enough money to purchase his own Ferrari 250GT. To Lamborghini’s dismay, the Ferrari had a faulty clutch, forcing him to take it into the shop several times for the same issue. When he had his own employees look at the Ferrari, they found the same parts they used in their tractors. Lamborghini vowed then and there that if someone was going to buy an Italian sports car, it was going to be the absolute pinnacle of performance, engineering, and aesthetic beauty. One year later, Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini S.p.A was founded to build such vehicles.
Ferruccio Lamborghini, the eldest of five children, was born in Renazzo, Italy in 1916. Growing up on his family’s farm in the Ferrara province, he found his niche in the farmstead’s workshop, tinkering with tools and machines. He left primary school to attend Fratelli Taddia, a technical institute near Bologna, and after receiving his license in 1934, was hired on at Cavalier Righi, a factory commissioned to produce army vehicles.
When WWII broke out in Italy, the Italian Royal Airforce drafted Lamborghini, an experienced mechanic, and sent him to Rhodes, Greece. He was assigned to the Fiftieth Mixed Maneuver Motor Fleet. This fleet was responsible for the maintenance and repair of the Italian army vehicles on the island, including tractors and diesel trucks used to tow aircraft. Lamborghini was soon appointed head of the workshop.
In 1943, after the Battle of Rhodes, he stayed on the German-occupied island and opened his first mechanical repair shop. During this period, he met his first wife, Clelia. In 1946, he returned to Italy, and taking advantage of an economic recovery incentive program, he opened a machine shop both repairing and building vehicles in the village of Cento.
While in Cento, Lamborghini noticed the local farmers struggling to farm their land without tractors, which they could not afford. It was then that he had the idea of building inexpensive, affordable, and easily repairable tractors. In 1948, during the feast day of Cento’s patron saint, Lamborghini presented his tractor and sold 11 right away. With his father’s approval, he put up his family’s farm as collateral to buy 1,000 engines and started mass-producing tractors.
The first Lamborghini, a 350 GTV was designed by Franco Scaglione. The prototype, produced in four months, was exhibited at the 1963 Turin Motor Show. Their first production vehicles were the 350 GT, followed later by the 400 GT. Lamborghini’s enthralling enthusiasm led his mechanics and engineers to conceive increasingly cutting-edge sports cars such as the Miura, the Islero, the Espada, and the Jarama, amazing the world with each new model.
The 1970s gas crisis shifted the market for high-performance luxury cars, and Ferruccio sold Lamborghini to Chrysler in 1987. In 1994, Chrysler sold the brand to MegaTech, and in 1998, the Volkswagen Group purchased the brand.
When it comes to luxury, performance, and beauty, few names garner as much respect as Lamborghini. Producing less than 8,500 vehicles a year, Lamborghinis are a rare spectacle. An entrepreneur at heart, Lamborghini’s journey started in the workshop on his family’s farm; took him from building tractors out of old military vehicles’ spare parts, to some of the world’s finest luxury sports cars. What differentiated Lamborghini from the others was his legacy: Diablo, Miura, Countach, and the Murciélago.