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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Interview with Ferruccio Lamborghini
Part I
Thoroughbred & Classic Cars, Jan. 1991.

So we want to meet Ferruccio Lamborghini? No problem at all. Unlike the late Enzo Ferrari, the creator of the Miura, the Espada and the Countach is pleased to meet people who appreciate the cars that bear his name, owners and ordinary enthusiasts alike. Ferruccio Lamborghini is a young man of 75, who works Monday to Friday, 6am to 6pm, on his vineyards near Lake Trasimeno in middle Italy. Besides having various minor business interests, he is still president of three factories which produce tractors, air-conditioning equipment and hydraulic systems.

We have to travel 220 miles south from the Lamborghini car factory at Sant'Agata Bolognese to meet the man who shattered Ferrari's domination in the late Sixties. Eventually we turn off the main road and down a dusty country lane which leads us through the vineyards. Cantina (winery) reads a sign, and on the right there appears a hall housing Lamborghinis even more massive than the LM002 off-roader: the tractors which are still built in a joint Swiss/Italian venture.

Next door is Lamborghini's museum. Apart from examples of 350GT, Islero, Espada, Jarama, Urraco, Miura and Countach, there are several Lamborghini tractors displayed here, starting with a rather crude-looking device from the late Forties. But we enter the small office opposite and ask for Il Cavaliere. His private secretary tells us he is out in the fields. "Just drive on; he's expecting you."

Construction work is going on at the end of the dusty road, and a short, stocky man wearing a cowboy's hat is talking things over with the workers. “Ali, so you have arrived! I'm Lamborghini. We are just building a golf course over there," he immediately explains, pointing towards the horizon. "Golf has a big future. The right sport for the right people." I make the mistake of asking Il Cavaliere which architect he chose to design the course. "It's me!" he exclaims, jabbing a thumb at his chest. "I looked at more than 40 golf courses all over the world, from California to Japan. Now I know how to do it myself."

We are totally captivated by this charming man. Ferruccio Lamborghini was born in 1916, the son of poor peasants in a poor country village. By the end of the Sixties, his companies employed about 4,500 people - but a few years later he was heavily in debt. Now, at 75, he is a man of considerable wealth again, who sees no reason to stop working. "When you stop working, you start to die!"

Lamborghini still remains very much a peasant at heart, and is the kindest man we have ever met. After demonstrating a hydraulically powered golf caddy of his own design - "We start production next year" - he invites us back to his flat, sits us down and makes coffee. Yes, Ferruccio Lamborghini is making us coffee! Just imagine Enzo Ferrari making a coffee for visiting journalists in the kitchen of his Fiorano residence...

So what was Lamborghini's first car? "I started motoring soon after the war, with a Fiat Topolino. I went through a large number of them, and soon I began to tune them, taking the displacement up from 500 to 750cc and fitting my own Testa d'Oro head to convert them from side valves to overhead valves." In 1948, Lamborghini and a certain Baglioni entered the first post-war Mille Miglia with a Fiat 750 Testa d'Oro. Their race finished prematurely in an inn near Fano, "which we entered by driving through the wall," according to Lamborghini.

As his wealth increased, the young industrialist turned to Alfa Romeo and Lancia in the early Fifties. "I had an Alfa Romeo 1900 Sprint first and a 1900 Super Sprint later, both of which were quite good. But I preferred the Lancia Aurelia B20. It was no more powerful than the Alfa, but much more sophisticated, more civilised. I had a number of Aurelias, over the years - six or seven, I guess." This was when Lamborghini began running up to seven cars at the same time, so that he could choose a different one every day of the week.

"In 1954 or '55, I got a Mercedes 300SL, the one with the gullwing doors. It was a remarkable car, a very progressive design for its day. No, I did not keep it. After two or three years I sold it to a friend. I had to try something new." Typical of Ferruccio Lamborghini...

"Later on, I had two Maserati 3500GTs. Adolfo Orsi, then the owner of Maserati, was a man I had a lot of respect for: he had started life as a poor boy, like myself. But I did not like his cars much. They felt heavy and did not really go very fast; normally 220kph [138mph], perhaps 230 on a cool day." What about the eight-cylinder cars, the Quattroporte, Mexico, Ghibli? "No, I never tried any of those. When they became available, I already had my own GT, and with my 12-cylinder engine I was playing in the first division - against Ferrari."

Before turning to Ferrari, I asked Lamborghini about the other supercars of the day - Jaguar, for instance. "I only ever had one of those, a very early E-type coupe" (it seems that Lamborghini never drove roadsters or spiders). "It was a very attractive car and I really liked being seen in it! But on the road I found the rear end was rather nervous, even though on paper the rear suspension looked great." Ferruccio demonstrates with his hands how the rear end oversteered to the left, then right, left, right... "But it looked so good. When I had my first car built by Scaglione, I told him that I wanted an Italian version of the E-type."
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Part II

Why did Lamborghini choose Franco Scaglione? "Well, in the early Sixties there was quite a number of designers and stylists to choose from. But Scaglione arrived at my place in a big shiny Mercedes, immaculately dressed and accompanied by a breathtakingly beautiful secretary. ‘Your car will be ready in a week,’ he told me. So I gave him the job. In the end my car was bodied in a ramshackle hut that hardly measured three or four metres long."

Did Lamborghini ever try an Aston Martin, a DB4, say, of that period? "Yes, but I did not like it." I look surprised. The DB Astons are considered great supercars of the Fifties and Sixties; even James Bond had one... "Perhaps you are right, but I did not like it. The one I tried felt very much like an English version of the Maserati 3500GT: upright and old fashioned, noisy and choppy."

Finally we turn to Enzo Ferrari's cars. "I had three or four of them. The Ferrari was a very good car, I must admit, the best I had had so far apart from the Mercedes 300SL. After I got my first Ferrari, my other six cars - Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Mercedes, Maserati, Jaguar were always left in the garage."

What types of Ferrari did Lamborghini own over the years? "In 1958 I went to Maranello for the first time to buy a 250GT coupe, the two-seater by Pininfarina. After that I had one, maybe two, 250GT Berlinettas, the short wheelbase car from Scaglietti. I did like that one very much. It was ahead of its time, had a perfect balance and a strong engine. Finally I bought a 250GT 2 + 2, which was a four-seater by Pininfarina. That engine was very strong too and it went very well.

“All my Ferraris had clutch problems. When you drove normally, everything was fine. But when you were going hard, the clutch would slip under acceleration; it just wasn't up to the job. I went to Maranello regularly to have a clutch rebuilt or renewed, and every time, the car was taken away for several hours and I was not allowed to watch them repairing it. The problem with the clutch was never cured, so I decided to talk to Enzo Ferrari. I had to wait for him a very long time. 'Ferrari, your cars are rubbish!' I complained. Il Commendatore was furious. "Lamborghini, you may be able to drive a tractor but you will never be able to handle a Ferrari Properly.' This was the point when I finally decided to make a perfect car.

"To start with, I bought a bigger clutch from Borg & Beck and had it fitted in the tractor factory workshop. Then we discarded Ferrari's cylinder heads, which were rather simple affairs with just a single overhead camshaft and 12 rockers. I had them replaced by heads of our own design with twin cam shafts. We then put the engine back in the 250GT and fitted six horizontally mounted carburettors, just like on the 350GT two years later. It was already quite a good car. Several times I used to wait for test drivers from Maranello, with Prova MO plates on their cars, at the entrance to the motorway near Modena. After some time we would be doing 230, 240kph [145-150mph] and then I would start to pull away from them - my Ferrari was at least 25kph faster than theirs thanks to our four-cam conversion. 'Hey, Lamborghini, what have you done to your car?' they would ask me later 'Oh, I don't know' I used to answer with a grin!”

Did Lamborghini still have any personal contact with Ferrari after the launch of his own GT car in late 1963? "One day in Modena I was entering a restaurant when I recognised Ferrari sitting at one of the tables. As I passed I tried to greet him, but he turned his head away and pretended to be talking to the person next to him. He was ignoring me!" Ferruccio grins. "I used to have contact with Adolfo and Omer Orsi of Maserati, Renzo Rivolta of ISO, even Alejandro de Tomaso. But Ferrari never spoke to me again. He was a great man, I admit, but it was so very easy to upset him."

As soon as he was producing his own GT, Lamborghini started to use one as his everyday hack, personally owning two Espadas and a Miura, a Jarama and an Urraco. "I preferred the Jarama to all the others, because it is the perfect compromise between the Miura and the Espada. The Miura is a sports car for the young at heart who want to go like hell and love to be seen. Myself, I considered the Miura too extrovert after a while. In turn, the Espada was my Rolls-Royce: still quite fast, but also large and comfortable. The Jarama is the perfect car if you just want to have one car." The Urraco? "I thought the Urraco the ideal car for women who love to go fast. And the Bravo I planned as the car for lovers.." Why? "Because my friend Bertone was going to tint all the glass completely black!"

Ferruccio opens another bottle of his homegrown red wine, Sangue di Miura (Bull's Blood), lights another cigarette and listens to us patiently. Who decided on the character of future models in the Sixties? The sales director, the engineers, or Bertone, the designer? "Difficult to explain," says Ferruccio, trying to remember. "Personally I thought it important to launch a new car every year to show that we were still here and very active. Look: in 1963 we had the 350GT. In 1965 the 350GT Spider and the Miura. chassis. In 1966 there were the 400GT and the Miura. In 1967 the Espada. In 1968 the lslero, and in 1969 the Islero GTS. In 1970 the Jarama and Urraco. In 1971 the prototype Countach. In 1972 the Jarama GTS. In 1973 the production version Countach.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Lamborghini by Lamborghini

BY FERRUCCIO LAMBORGHINI

Reprinted from Automobile Classiques, Spring-Summer'84

Part I

Ferruccio Lamborghini has never been one to mince words, but never before has he put them down on paper. Now he does. For the twentieth anniversary of the bull, he has chosen to relate in his own words the story of the golden age of the car that bears his name. His personal favorite: Miura.

'You know how to drive a tractor, but you’ll never learn to drive a Ferrari'

If Enzo Ferrari hadn't made that crack - one day early in the 1960's when I was complaining for the nth time about the insoluble clutch problems I was having with his car, I might never have built my Lamborghinis.

I liked my Ferraris. but I was sick and tired of spending so much of my time burning out their clutches And every time I went to Modena, everyone there seemed to take a malicious pleasure in making me hang around waiting. Ferrari's answer to my complaint on that score was that one day he had kept the King of Belgium waiting, so Mr Lamborghini, the builder of tractors and boilers, really had no cause to object. As for the technical drama, he just wasn't willing to listen to my suggestions, and I was never able to obtain a reinforced clutch for my Ferrari. Finally I'd had enough. I slammed the door and vowed I would build my own car. The way I wanted it. And sturdy!

Everybody who knows me will tell you that this decision didn't come as a surprise to them. Mechanics was in my blood. It's in the blood of everyone who is born in Emilia, the province that was blessed by the gods of the automobile, and where I was born in 1916 into a family of modest farmers. After the Second World War I managed a small factory that manufactured exercise equipment for Italian beauties who yearned to keep their figures. Business wasn’t good, however, because at that time Italian beauties were yearning chiefly for enough food to fill their stomachs - and thus I found myself with plenty of free time to spend on my souped-up Fiat 500 race car, which no longer looked much like a standard Topolino, and to which I owe my first commercial success. I had installed an overhead valve, high compression Lamborghini cylinder head in it, baptized the result the Testa d'Oro, then sat back and waited for all the owners of wornout Topolino sports cars to beat a path to my door. That cylinder head was their salvation.

I entered by little Fiat barnstormer in quite a few races after the war. In 1948 I even attempted the Mille Miglia, in the 750cc class, with Baglioni as my teammate. Everything went like a dream for three-quarters of the race-until we ran off the road. In 1949 I made the transition from sports to agriculture when I established my tractor factory. Italy was then in the throes of reconstruction, and she needed us. We turned out six tractors a day. Subsequently, in the 1960s, I changed course again and invested my profits in a plant that manufactured boiler burners.

But, in the back of my mind, I had never stopped thinking about the Ideal motor car. By 1963 it was ready. All I had to do was construct a plant to build it. You know the rest of the story: ten golden years during which wealthy customers lined up to purchase a Lamborghini. I had never imagined I could sell so many. When we launched the Miura for example our plan was for fifty cars. But, by the time the model was discontinued almost eight years later, one hundred Miuras had rolled off the Sant'Agata line And its customers had paid cash for a jewel which they knew on the day of purchase would not be theirs until after a long year of patient waiting. What better proof of their confidence?

In 1963 I wasn't the only one who was dreaming about the Lamborghini. An entire team of engineers, as brilliant as they were opinionated, was also dreaming about it. They included Gianpaolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzani, Giotto Bizzarrini and others whose names would remain associated with the car for some time to come. Almost all of them were former Ferrari employees. This was no accident, since Modena is the real cradle of the automobile - or perhaps cauldron is a better word, a broth of engineers being concocted there who loved their trade and who plied it in an environment where competition was so keen that in a very short time the best had left the others behind. I didn't hire them, I merely offered them an opportunity. The opportunity came with a five-year contract attached. There was nothing really wonderful about those conditions, but that did not stop these engineers from putting in long workdays which rarely ended before ten o'clock at night. That's what you call enthusiasm. During these golden years we also benefited from the advice of an engineer who worked days in the testing department of Alta Romeo while moonlighting for us. I'm not going to tell you his name because he's still working for them.

If I had to catalogue my engineers, I'd say that Dallara was tireless and extraordinarily brilliant, but utterly unaware of the business aspect of our adventure. The fact that a crankshaft required a day’s work at the forge, for example, didn't faze him at all. Stanzani, in contrast, was a great engineer, too, but one who watched the pennies. He shaved always expertly - wherever he could shave.

At the outset my demands were as clear as they were simple. I wanted a compact, elegant car with twelve cylinders of high cubic capacity, four carburetors and large valves. A sturdy machine, with drysump lubrication. And that's how the first version of the 350 GT was born. In all objectivity, I feel it was superior to the Ferrari sedan of the same period. It was more powerful and, above all, more flexible.

-- A modern, clean, efficient machine, without concession to tradition --
All this was due, perhaps, to the fact that we had no 'a priori’ technique. We started from nothing, in a factory designed like a laboratory for scientific experimentation and which incidentally, was far more modern than the Maranello plant was at that time!

I called upon Franco Scaglione to build the body of the very first Lamborghini. I liked his execution, but I recognized that his bodies were largely for show. For the assembly line 350 GT we went to Touring Zagato who built the bodies for three or four cars. He was followed by Nuccio Bertone.

I don’t know whether Bertone embodied the Lamborghini spirit better than the others but I know for sure that, thanks to us, he found “a shoe that fit him," as he told me on the day we introduced the Miura at the 1965 Turin Automobile Show.

-- I Still miss the Miura --
The Miura was six years in production, and it surpassed our wildest hopes. I know sports enthusiasts all over the world who would have paid a king's ransom for a racing version. But I always refused to build one. This was not to avoid doing battle with Ferrari, as people have claimed, but out of a father's concern. My son Tonino was sixteen years old when I created the Lamborghini and I knew that a competition environment would attract him irresistibly toward racing which was a circumstance I feared, so I included in the company's bylaws a prohibition against race participation.

When people ask me nowadays to describe my ideal car. I still answer with one word: Miura. The career of this extraordinary berlinetta should never have ended. Its premature demise was caused by American legislation. In 1970, when the first anti-pollution laws were passed in the United States, we realized that the poor Miura was condemned to death. At the plant we had brainstormed the problem from every possible point of view. But finally we had to admit that it was impossible to house that devilish device known as a catalytic converter and the bag of other required American gadgets in the limited space under the Miura’s hood which was just large enough to hold the carburetors and their filters.

I've often been asked why I named the car Miura. To answer that question I have to go back to the birth of the company. In 1962, I visited Eduardo Miura’s ranch in Seville where he raised bulls for bullfighting, and I was so impressed that by the time I got home I had already selected my future emblem. The fact also that I was born under the sign of Taurus sort of ratified my decision.

I still miss the Miura. No on has ever equalled it.

When the pendulum swung against that car, it was already too late. The 1973 oil crisis was about to shake the automobile world. At Sant Agate the golden age was over. To survive we launched the Countach and the Urraco. In 1970 I had chosen to sell fifty-one percent of my stock. I sold the rest in 1972.

Subsequently I became interested in vine growing, studied the subject and invested in a vineyard that I created from nothing on the banks of Lake Trasimeno in Umbria. My son and I produce Sangue di Miura (Blood of Miura) a wine that is our pride and joy. My friends tell me that I've grown younger. One thing is certain, I've never lost any of my enthusiasm. But times have changed.

Today I would not adventure alone. It’s too difficult and too risky. Still, if I could find nine partners as determined as my son, I’d forget my age and start from nothing. And I bet the glory days of the 1960’s would rally round us again very quickly. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the peace and quiet of my vineyard. And when I miss the sound and the fury, I take refuge in my garage and turn the key in the ignition of my Miura. Just long enough to make the needle move.

When shall we meet again? Soon, and in a museum that a now being built under my son's supervision. A museum dedicated to the dream Lamborghinis. It will shortly open its doors in Bologna.”
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Part II

Ferruccio on his cars:
“For the rest of my life I'll feel happy whenever I look at my Miura. This car left its mark on its age, and I say that nobody has built anything better since. It was the first car of our wildest dreams, a car for absolute fanatics. We refused to make a single technical compromise in the Miura. Mounting the engine transversely in the center was a daring step in itself, one that no one had ever dared to try. As for its appearance, you can judge for yourself nineteen years later.”

“The 350 was my first creation - It dates from 1963, but you have to admit that it has aged much better than many of its competitors. Especially in the coachwork designed by Touring. One kilometer in 27 seconds, start to finish! It was comfortable and luxurious but, thanks to its traditional architecture, it was also reassuring. For me, it was the best reliability-performance compromise of its day. It was superior to the GT of my Maranello competitor.”

“The 400 model was merely a logical development of the 350. Touring succeeded magnificently in lengthening the body without making it heavier. With the 400, our customers had a real 2 + 2 with very healthy behavior. The engine of the 400 resembled that of the 350 for line, but it had a 4-liter capacity instead of the 3.5 liters of our first creation. It's a shame that Touring closed its doors shortly thereafter - we liked its work very much.”

“The Islero as a logical successor to the 400 GT a great classic and very traditional in its body, designed by Marazzi.”

“The Espada was the Lamborghini of the mature man, the next step after Miura.”

“The Jarama is the Lamborghini I'd buy right now.”
 

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That was a great article about Ferruccio. Thanks for sharing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks guys, i m glad that u liked those articles.

expect more from me. :wave:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
ferrucio was such a great man. such an important guy in the car industry and so down to earth.
 

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Yep, that is one my regret... that when my wife and I were in Italy back in 1987, I didn't get to meet him.

One of the car guys up here in Washington, has a huge, and I mean HUGE picture that he has blown up and hung in his warehouse, of his wife standing with Ferruccio in front of a white Countach.

Great shot!

Mike
Jalpa #12071
 

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Great interview, BUT Ferruccio did not design the Countach. The Miura was his last accomplishment before he sold the company.
 
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