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Lamborghini stole Ferrari's thunder following snub in '60s

October 17, 2004

BY DAN JEDLICKA Auto Reporter Advertisement

Lamborghini was a new exotic Italian automaker that made a big splash in the 1960s when it challenged Ferrari with exciting road cars -- after Enzo Ferrari angered wealthy Italian industrialist Ferruccio Lamborghini.

The 1968-70 Islero was one of the best such Lamborghinis, although it was overshadowed in the late 1960s by the automaker's sensational looking Espada and rakish Miura, which then was the only genuine challenger to Ferrari for the world's best sports car.

Ironically, the conservatively styled front-engine Islero V-12 was the favorite model of Ferrucio Lamborghini, who set up a modern car operation near the Ferrari factory after Enzo Ferrari scoffed at his legitimate complaints about some weak Ferrari mechanical components.

"Stick to making farm tractors, and I'll continue building the world's best sports cars,'' Ferrari told Lamborghini after Lamborgh-ini complained about the components when the two men met in 1962.

Lamborghini was a tough, independent, self-made man who earned a fortune producing tractors, air conditioners and heating units. After his confrontation with Ferrari, he hired some of Italy's top auto designers and engineers and gave them a virtually unlimited budget to make the world's best sports cars.

By 1964, his factory was turning out highly regarded sports cars.

Unlike Ferrari, who lived for racing, Lamborghini wasn't interested in competing with Ferrari or any automaker on the track. He just wanted to build the world's top sports cars for the road, although the Miura had a breakthrough race-style mid-engine design.

The Islero was a beautifully designed car that was essentially a rebodied version of the Lamborgh-ini 400 GT, which was one of the first Lamborghinis. It had two small back seats, as did the Ferrari 330GT and Aston Martin DB sports cars, but looked slicker. It arrived about the same time as the four-seat Espada, which attracted virtually all the attention. (The Miura was introduced in 1966.)

The Islero retained the popular 400 GT's tubular chassis and 100.4-inch wheelbase, along with the front-mounted V-12 with dual overhead camshafts. The Lamborghini V-12 was said to be as good as the Ferrari V-12 and gave the Islero rapid acceleration and a top speed of 155 mph.

The Islero's exotic sounding 4-liter engine produced 320 horsepower -- or 340 in the 1969 Islero "S'' version. It had no less than six Weber carburetors and four large chromed tailpipe outlets.

Lamborghini described how he wanted the car to look to stylist Mario Marazzi, who had been associated with Lamborghini and had opened his own auto coachbuilding operation in Milan, Italy.

The result was a car with clean, beautifully balanced lines. The Islero had a long hood, short rear deck and large glass area. There was more head and leg room than in the 400 GT and its new instrument panel was more conservatively designed. Air conditioning was standard.

The headlights had covers to make the Islero's front end look cleaner and to give it better aerodynamics than the 400 GT. The Islero's notchback body style had a regular trunk above its two bumper sections, which wrapped around the rear end.

The interior was plush, with a thick wood-rim steering wheel, lots of leather and plenty of gauges.

Lamborghini mainly wanted the Islero to provide comfortable, fast, stylish transportation for wealthy businessmen. He knew that wild cars such as the Miura, which immediately caused Ferrari road cars to look dated, were needed to outdo Ferrari. But the Islero was plenty good for his tastes.

The rich and famous lined up to buy the Miura, if only for its impossibly rakish looks, but it was much less comfortable than the Islero, which was easy and safe to drive at high speeds.

The Islero was named after a legendary fighting bull. It was one of the world's most aggressive sports cars, despite its rather subdued styling. One writer called it "one of the quickest (four-seaters) in every sense. I have never heard of any car with a front motor, irrespective of the number of seats, which was capable of matching its performance.''

The Islero sold pretty well for a car overshadowed by the Miura and Espada, although new American auto safety and emissions regulations caused it to be dropped for the new Lamborghini Jarama in 1970.

As years passed, many car buffs and collectors began recognizing the Islero as a hot-blooded Italian supercar. It's increased greatly in value and now is worth $80,000 in top condition.

Premium Member
231 Posts
JRV said:
Oh YEA!!!!!!!..

I can hardly wait for the excuses to begin... :)
I know.... I'm sure we're going to hear it. That's a phrase I thought of to say when a Ferrari owner gets his hair up at a show because everyone is looking at a lambo with it's doors up, and not paying enough attention to his car. I like Ferrari's but when they made the Enzo with those doors to say " so there!" It just made me wonder how long they've had door envy.......I guess since 1974. :whip:

30 Posts
Your exactly right JRV, I am one of those people that went from Ferrari to Lamborghini as what I feel was and still is a upgrade. Other makes still in my garage but I feel there is no comaparison to either. I tell people to compare a Ferrari to a lambo is like to compare a Ferrari to a Porsche. All beautiful and remarkable cars but please people they are different. Lambo is the superior mark here.

0 Posts
Tony_Lambo said:
I wonder if Enzo would roll over in his grave if he knew that when his old company finally made a super-car and named it after him.....that they put Lamborghini doors on it to wow the crowd! :whip:
:evil: Can we get some freakin water for that burn? :evil:
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