FOUNDED BY MOTOR ENTHUSIASTS FOR MOTOR ENTHUSIASTS
Some say that the Audi-era Lamborghinis lost some of the brand’s ‘craziness’, but the more extreme flamboyance of Lamborghini really came to be during the 1980s, with the likes of the sciatica-inducing clutch pedal and flared intakes of the fabulous Countach, or the wide-hipped extravagance of the later Diablo.
‘Craziness’ was never what Ferruccio set out to deliver – quite the opposite in fact. His focus was on delivering more refinement, drivability and power than the likes of Ferrari. With that in mind, Audi has overseen a reconnection with that DNA – while still managing to push the modern brand’s razor-sharp brutalist styling ever further.
The Lamborghini range
Now is an interesting time to be buying into the Lamborghini range, which currently consists of three main models: the fabulously successful Urus SUV; and two supercars (Aventador and Huracan), both of which are soon to be replaced with entirely new models.
Exciting right? There are spy shots aplenty on the interweb, and it is a cert that both models will be electrically assisted. But other than that? We’ll have to wait and see, come 2023.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF Lamborghini
Ferruccio Lamborghini was, by all accounts, an extraordinary man. He was automobile designer, inventor, mechanic, engineer, winemaker, industrialist and businessman. Born into a farming family, and a gifted mechanic, he founded Lamborghini Trattori – his tractor making business – in 1948, which achieved significant success as the Italian economy recovered in the wake of WWII. In 1959, he founded a manufacturer of oil burners, which morphed into an air conditioning equipment manufacturer.
As Lamborghini’s wealth grew, he was able to buy himself increasingly expensive – and faster – cars. Throughout the 1950s he owned Alfa Romeos and Lancias, and went on to add a Mercedes-Benz 300SL, a Jaguar E-Type and a brace of Maseratti 3500 GTs.
In 1958, Ferruccio Lamborghini travelled to Maranello to buy his first Ferrari – the Pininfarina-designed 250 GT. Over the following years, he would own several more Ferraris, but always felt they were too noisy and rough-riding for the road.
His criticisms didn’t end there though. He was annoyed at the frail clutches that Ferrari put in their cars, which required frequent rebuilds at the factory in Maranello. He didn’t like Ferrari’s aftersales service, and he felt the cars lacked some of the niceties that a grand tourer should come with. Ferruccio famously made his complaints known to the company but was dismissed by the notoriously fiery Enzo Ferrari.
Combining both his shrewd business acumen and practiced mechanical expertise, Lamborghini set about producing the ‘perfect touring car’, one that combined high performance, excellent control, handling and ride comfort, and a nicely appointed interior. He also knew he could increase margins above the likes of Ferrari by re-purposing parts from his tractor lines.
Automobili Lamborghini was founded in 1963, releasing a series of models throughout the mid-1960s, including the 350 GT and the 1966 Miura Sports Coupe, often voted by petrolheads as one of the most beautiful cars of all time. The Espada was launched in 1968, and remained the company’s best seller right up until, well, you’ll find out in a minute. The Urraco followed in 1972, a product of the looming oil crisis, which forced Lamborghini to produce a car with a smaller engine and reduced emissions.
Everything proceeded to go very well for the fledgling car maker. That is, until the worldwide recession and oil crisis of 1973. Sales dropped like a stone, and Ferruccio decided to sell the car business to George-Henri Rossetti and Rene Leimer. Lamborghini retired in 1974.
However, times remained difficult for the new owners who could not recover the situation. The company went bankrupt in 1978 and was placed in the receivership of Jean-Claude and Patrick Mimran in 1980. The brothers subsequently bought the company out of receivership in 1984 and injected significant investment to bring it back to life. Under their management, Lamborghini added the Jalpa sports car and LM002 off-road vehicle to the Countach.
What followed was ten years in which Lamborghini bounced around owners like a beachball at a rock concert. The Mimran brothers sold the business to Chrysler Corporation in 1987, who replaced Countach with the Diablo, before selling on to Mycom Setdco – a Malaysian investment group – and the Indonesian group V’Power Corporation, in 1994. In 1998, Mycom Setdco and V’Power sold Lamborghini on to the Volkswagen Group, where it was placed under Audi’s control. Phew.
Then Chief Technical Officer, Maurizio Reggiani, was first employed by Lamborghini in 1995 to negotiate a deal with Audi to buy their 4.2l V8, which was used in the Audi A8. Lamborghini had been planning what they called a ‘Baby Diablo’ – what would become the Gallardo – but needed a new powertrain and didn’t have the funds to develop one themselves.
Together, Lamborghini and Audi worked on the project for about eight months, during which time the notion of Audi buying Lamborghini arose.
Under Audi’s governance, and very much deeper pockets, Lamborghini developed subsequent versions of the Diablo (including the Diablo GT), and grew the line-up with the Gallardo and Murcielago, the latter being the first model to be made completely under Audi’s responsibility.
The Lamborghini brand
In 1962, Ferruccio Lamborghini visited the ranch of Don Eduardo Miura, a famous breeder of Spanish fighting bulls. Lamborghini came away suitably impressed by Miura’s beasts and adopted a raging bull as the emblem shortly after.
Bullfighting continued as a theme of inspiration, most obviously with the Miura. But Islero was an infamous bull, Espada is the Spanish word for sword, Jarama is an historic bullfighting region of Spain, Urraco is a breed of bull. So too was Jalpa, Diablo was a ferocious fighting bull, owned by the Duke of Veragua. Murcielago was a famous bull whose life was spared for giving such an epic performance. Gallardo is one of the five ancient family lines of fighting bulls. Reventon, again, was a famous fighting bull. The Estoque concept of 2008 which was named after the estoc, the traditional sword carried by matadors, and lastly, and most recently, the Urus, which is named for the ancestor of modern domestic cattle, aurochs.
The future of Lamborghini
Lamborghini is going great guns. Between 2017 and 2019, new car sales leapt over 115%, from 3,815 to 8,205. In the first six months of 2022, the company delivered over 5,000 new cars and saw record profits, with what the Lamborghini bosses called ‘exceptional’ results.
In 2021, Lamborghini announced that every car in the range will be hybrid from 2024 onwards, however, fans and the wider industry are looking ahead to 2028, when the brand will launch its first-ever fully electric vehicle, to sit alongside much anticipated replacements for the Aventador and Huracan.
Quotes about Lamborghini
“Lamborghini is refinement, luxury and perfection.” Ferruccio Lamborghini
“You buy a Ferrari when you want to be somebody. You buy a Lamborghini when you are somebody.” Frank Sinatra