miercuri, 20 aprilie 2016
Icon: Ferruccio Lamborghini - World Of Classic Cars -
Ferruccio Lamborghini was one of those people that made everything seem easy. An industrialist who was symbolic of the boom in innovation in post-war Italy. He successfully built a tractor company, manufactured oil heaters, produced air conditioners and became a wine maker. Nothing seemed impossible and everything was solvable in his eyes.
He was a car nut from word go. When he first started out he bought and tinkered with a range of tiny Fiats. Growing success made it possible for him to indulge his love of faster cars such as Alfas and Lancias. By the time the 1950s rolled round his success meant he was driving a different car for each day of the week including an E-type, Mercedes 300SL and a Masarati 3500 GT. None quite hit the mark for him, so he decided to buy a Ferrari.
He owned several Ferraris over the years but became frustrated with what he perceived to be a rough ride, poor finishes and iffy clutches. Famously he took his complaints directly to a combustible Enzo Ferrari who dismissed him out of hand, telling him he simply didn’t know how to drive a Ferrari. Rather than getting annoyed he saw the opportunity. He would produce a super car that took advantage of the fact that the competition simply wasn’t good enough. The cars available were either ‘too hot. Or uncomfortable. Or not sufficiently fast. Or not perfectly finished’.
His first stab at developing a super car was to modify his Ferrari 250 GT. The result of his tinkering – he converted it to a 4 cam car – was a Ferrari that was 25kph faster than anything Marenello could turn out. When asked how he’d managed it, he’d grin and answer, ‘oh, I don‘t know’.
“Ferrari never spoke to me again. He was a great man, I admit, but it was so very easy to upset him.”
Out performing Ferrari wasn’t enough though, he wanted to build the perfect GT car from scratch. This decision was widely considered a grand folly. The surest way of squandering his fortune. To start with he built a state of the art factory and the first car to roll off the production line was the well-received 350GT in 1964. During this time he became famous for rolling up his shirtsleeves to work on the production line when he was unhappy with how things were being done.
It wasn’t until the arrival of the Miura in 1966 that Lamborghini really came of age. The car itself was designed in the engineers spare time as the focus was on producing GT models. That all changed once it launched to a rapturous reception at the Geneva motor show. Not only was it the prettiest car that anyone had ever seen, it was also the fastest. The car sent the company into orbit. The Miura was owned by everyone from Miles Davis to Frank Sinatra and featured in the classic film The Italian Job.
“When people ask me nowadays to describe my ideal car. I still answer with one word: Miura.”
Under Ferruccio’s guidance the company went on to produce a long line of classics from the Espada, Islero and Jamara to the Urraco and the Countach. By the time the Countach arrived in 1974, Ferruccio was in the process of selling up. He had become disillusioned, the company was suffering under a mountain of debt and there was a falling interest in sports cars due to the oil crisis. The Countach was a fitting swansong for him and ensured that future models had a strong DNA to work back to. Which is why modern Lamborghini’s are often visionary, luxurious, monstrously quick and uncompromising.
He retired to a 740 acre estate in Umbria. Although it was a retirement in the loosest sense as he farmed, produced wine, designed a golf course and maintained business interests. He died in 1993 at 76 years of age. When it comes to summing him up we’ll leave the last word to the man himself, ‘I’m just a man who likes creating things’.