The History of Lamborghini

Ferruccio Lamborghini vor dem Traktorenwerk in Cento

To this day, the unbridled energy of a fighting bull is the trademark of the super sports cars built in Sant’Agata Bolognese, both on and under the bonnet. In contrast to Bugatti, the legend of Lamborghini was still very much alive in 1998, as evidenced by the roar of the V12 engine. This unique combination of speed, style and perfection attracted the attention of the Volkswagen Group, which was looking to develop a luxury segment to enhance its prestige and market coverage. The opportunity came when the Indonesian holding company Megatech could no longer put up the capital required by its Italian subsidiary and Lamborghini faced financial problems. Company representatives searching for an engine for their Aerosa prototype contacted Audi. As a result, Volkswagen learnt that the Lamborghini brand was for sale. Following lengthy negotiations, Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. was acquired on July 10, 1998.

Ferruccio Lamborghini vor dem Traktorenwerk in Cento

Ferruccio Lamborghini had become rich as one of Italy’s major tractor manufacturers before establishing Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini S.p.A. in Sant’Agata Bolognese in 1963. He wanted to build a normal Gran Turismo, albeit a perfect one. While the factory was still being built on a green-field site, the first prototype took shape at his tractor plant. The founder entered the world of sports car legends in 1963, when the 350 GT, an extravagant lightweight coupe, made its debut at the Turin Motor Show. Its f lat bonnet concealed a light-alloy V12 engine developing 360 horsepower. In modified form the same engine, designed for Lamborghini by former Ferrari engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, still powers the Murciélago today. This high-performance power plant was well-matched with the charging bull which already decorated Lamborghini tractors and now became the trademark of a new class of super sports cars. Production of the legendary Miura started at the end of 1966. At a height of only 106 centimetres, the Miura was as low and aerodynamic as a racing car. Its transverse mid-engine configuration was also unique outside of motorsport, and its top speed of 278 kilometres per hour simply breathtaking. Demand for the new car was beyond everyone’s expectations, and Lamborghini sold 150 Miuras between 1966 and 1969. The factory was expanded, and the workforce grew.

Countach Quattrovalvole

A phase of constantly changing ownership and varying commercial success began, which persisted until 1998. Production of the Urraco and Countach prototypes developed by Feruccio Lamborghini’s company started under Swiss management. However, neither of the two models obtained homologation for the US market, which severely limited sales. In addition, the company suffered from the impact of the oil crisis. To ensure the survival of the Lamborghini brand, and to make use of the technical expertise available, the new management took on development contracts for other car-makers. However, the very first project, the BMW M1 made little headway and only exacerbated the financial problems. Ultimately, the Swiss entrepreneurs, who were relative newcomers to the car industry, displayed little skill in the management of the company, especially since they were not prepared to make the necessary investments. At the end of 1978, the company went bankrupt. A court-appointed administrator became managing director and searched in vain for a potential buyer for two years.

Murciélago Roadster

It was the Gallardo, launched in February 2003, that stimulated the demand impetus needed to steer Lamborghini to profitability. After many years, and timed to coincide with the company’s 40th anniversary, Lamborghini once again launched a second product line at the Geneva Motor Show; a product line which owed much to the technical expertise and development know-how of the parent company. Both the aluminium body and the V10 developed at Audi were joint undertakings by the specialists in Ingolstadt and Sant’ Agata Bolognese. As regards performance, there was very little difference between the Gallardo, a four-wheel-drive two-seater with a 500 hp power plant, and the Murciélago; the styling was also very reminiscent of the larger model’s design lines. However, while the Murciélago could only reach a very small customer segment, with sales figures between 400 and 500 units up to 2006, the more compact, less expensive Gallardo was accessible to a wider range of enthusiasts. In the first year of production, 933 Gallardos were sold, with new customers accounting for about three quarters of the total. Overall sales tripled against the previous year to 1,305 units, more than half being exported to the USA and Germany, and over a third to Switzerland, the UK and Japan. Further boosts were provided by the Murciélago Roadster and Gallardo Spyder, the open versions of the two models, taking unit sales beyond the 2,000 mark in 2006. Since the introduction of the Diablo 6.0 in the year 2000, Lamborghini had sold more of its super sports cars than in the entire history of the company prior to its acquisition by the Volkswagen Group.

Manufaktur Sant' Agata Bolognese
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