Lamborghini: Wikis


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Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
Type Wholly-owned subsidiary[1]
Founded October 30, 1963[1]
Founder(s) Ferruccio Lamborghini
Headquarters Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy
Area served Worldwide
Key people Stephan Winkelmann,
Wolfgang Egger,
Head of Design
Industry Automotive
Products Automobiles
Revenue L 73 billion (1998 est.)[1]
Owner(s) AUDI AG
Employees 327[1]
Parent Volkswagen Group
Automobile manufacturing division of Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A., part of the Lamborghini Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of AUDI AG, a 99-percent owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen AG

Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.,[Notes 1] commonly referred to as Lamborghini (pronounced [lamborˈɡini]  ( listen)), is an Italian automaker based in the small township of Sant'Agata Bolognese. The company was founded in 1963 by manufacturing magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini. It has changed ownership numerous times since, most recently becoming a subsidiary of German car manufacturer AUDI AG (itself a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group) in 1998.[1][2] Lamborghini has achieved widespread recognition for its sleek, exotic designs, and its cars have become symbols of performance and wealth.

Ferruccio Lamborghini entered the automobile manufacturing business with the aim of producing a high-quality grand tourer that could outperform and outclass offerings from local rival Ferrari S.p.A. Lamborghini met with success in 1966 with the release of the mid-engined Miura sports coupé, and in 1968 with the Espada GT, the latter of which sold over 1,200 units during ten years of production. After almost a decade of rapid growth, and the release of classic models like the Countach in 1974, hard times befell the company in the late 1970s, as sales plunged in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. Bankruptcy crippled the automaker, and after passing through the hands of a number of Swiss entrepreneurs, Lamborghini came under the corporate umbrella of industry giant Chrysler. The American company failed to make the Italian manufacturer profitable, and in 1994, the company was sold to Indonesian interests. Lamborghini would remain on life support throughout the rest of the 1990s, continuously updating the Diablo of 1990 in lieu of a planned expanded range of offerings, including a smaller car that would appeal to American enthusiasts. Reeling from the Asian financial crisis of the previous year, in 1998 Lamborghini's owners sold the troubled automaker to AUDI AG, the luxury car subsidiary of German automotive concern Volkswagen Group. German ownership marked the beginning of a period of stability and increased productivity for Lamborghini, with sales increasing nearly tenfold over the course of the next decade. A new world financial crisis has seen sales decrease once again, from a high of 2,580 units in 2007 to an expected 1,580 units in 2009. Lamborghini CEO Stephen Winkelmann has predicted continued poor sales for supercars through 2011.

Assembly of Lamborghini cars continues to take place at the automaker's ancestral home in Sant'Agata Bolognese, where engine and automobile production lines run side-by-side at the company's single factory. Each year, the facility produces less than 3,000 examples of the four models offered for sale, the V10-powered Gallardo coupé and roadster and the flagship V12-powered Murciélago coupé and roadster. The range is occasionally complemented by limited-edition variants of the four main models, such as the Reventón and a number of Superleggera trim packages.




1951 tractor

Automobili Lamborghini was founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini, the child of viticulturists from the comune of Renazzo di Cento, Province of Ferrara, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy.[1][3] After serving as a mechanic in the Regia Aeronautica,[4][5] during World War II, Lamborghini went into business building tractors out of leftover military hardware from the war effort. By the mid-1950s, Lamborghini's tractor company, Lamborghini Trattori S.p.A.,[6] had become one of the largest agricultural equipment manufacturers in the country.[7] He was also the owner of a successful gas heater and air conditioning manufacturer.[4][7][8]

Lamborghini's wealth allowed him to cultivate a childhood interest in cars, owning a number of luxury automobiles including Alfa Romeos, Lancias, Maseratis, and a Mercedes Benz.[8] He purchased his first Ferrari, a 250GT, in 1958, and went on to own several more. Lamborghini was fond of the Ferraris, but considered them too noisy and rough to be proper road cars, likening them to repurposed track cars.[8] Lamborghini gradually gained the impetus to create cars as he envisioned them, and decided to pursue an automobile manufacturing venture of his own.[7][9]

1963–1964: Founding and first forays

Prior to establishing his company, Ferruccio Lamborghini retained the services of engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, a member of the "Gang of Five" that had been part of a mass exodus from Ferrari in 1961, immediately after completing development on the famous 250 GTO.[10] Bizzarrini signed on as a freelancer, commissioned to design a V12 engine as large as Ferrari's 3-litre power plant but intended for use in a road car, in contrast to the detuned race engine used by Ferrari. Bizzarrini was promised L 4.5 million for his work, plus a bonus for every unit of brake horsepower the engine could produce over Ferrari's motor.[11] The engine he created displaced 3.5 litres, had a 9.5:1 compression ratio, and produced a maximum horsepower of 360 bhp at 9800 rpm. The V12, the basic design of which remains in use, came to life for the first on May 15, 1963, in a corner of the Lamborghini tractor factory.[11] Ferruccio Lamborghini was displeased with the engine's high rpms and dry-sump lubrication system, which he saw as an inappropriate configuration for what was meant to be a well-mannered engine suitable for use in a grand tourer.[12] Lamborghini requested substantial changes to the engine's design, but Giotto Bizzarrini protested against the detuning, sparking a feud that led to an unraveling of their relationship; the designer was not fully compensated for his work until Lamborghini was ordered to do so by the courts.[12]

In 1963, Lamborghini purchased a property at 12 via Modena, in the commune of Sant'Agata Bolognese, less than 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Cento. A sign at the entranced declared "Qui Stabilimento Lamborghini Automobile" (English: Lamborghini car factory here), boasting 46,000 square metres (500,000 sq ft) of space. Sant'Agata was chosen as the location for the factory due to a favorable financial agreement with the city's communist leadership, which would not tax the plant's profits for its first ten years of trading, along with receiving an interest rate of 19% on those profits when they were deposited in the bank. As part of the agreement, the workers would have to be unionized. Sant'Agata was deep in the cradle of Italy's automobile industry, meaning that Lamborghini's operation would have easy access to machine shops, coachbuilders, and workers with experience in the automotive industry.[13]

Ferruccio was unimpressed with the quality of the 350GTV, and ordered a complete redesign for Lamborghini's first production car

Lamborghini already had an engine; to create an automobile to install it in, he hired famed Italian chassis engineer Gian Paolo Dallara, and placed him in charge of the effort.[12] Dallara, who had previously worked for Ferrari and Maserati, assembled a team that included his assistant Paolo Stanzani, who was fresh out of college, and New Zealander Bob Wallace, then working at Maserati, an engineer known for his keen sense of chassis handling and excellent feedback and developmental skills.[12][14] Ferruccio selected the relatively unknown designer Franco Scaglione to style the car's body, turning down highly regarded names like Vignale, Ghia, Bertone, and Pininfarina. A car was designed and built in only four months, in time for the Turin motor show in October 1963.[11] Due to the ongoing feud with Giotto Bizzarrini over the engine's design, a working engine was not available for the prototype car in time for the unveiling; the first Lamborghini, the 350GTV went up for display in Turin without an engine under its hood, and received a warm response from the motoring press.[11] According to lore, Ferruccio Lamborghini had the engine bay filled with 500 lb (230 kg) of bricks or ceramic tiles so that the car sat at the appropriate ride height, and made sure the bonnet stayed closed throughout the show.[12] With the initial success behind them, the Automobili Lamborghini Società per Azioni was officially incorporated on October 30, 1963.[4]

The 350GTV was reworked into the production 350GT; the grand tourer sold a total of 120 copies

Though reviews had been positive, Ferrucico Lamborghini was unimpressed with the build quality of the 350GTV, and declared it a one-off. The car disappeared into storage for the next twenty years, until it was purchased and restored by a local collector.[15] Using the prototype car as a starting point, the bodywork was restyled by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, and a new chassis was constructed in-house. Against Bizzarrini's wishes, the engine was detuned for the production run, developing only 280 bhp, down from the original design's 360 bhp.[16] The refined car, dubbed 350GT, debuted at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show. The 350GT was received with equally enthusiastic response; production began shortly afterwards, and by the end of the year, cars had been built for 13 customers, sold at a loss in order to compete with Ferrari. The 350GT remained in production for a further two years, selling a total of 120 examples.[17]

Ferruccio Lamborghini had hired Ubaldo Sgarzi, who had previously worked at manufacturer Techno S.p.A., as his sales manager. Both men viewed factory racing programs with similar disapproval, a perspective which continued to clash with the wishes of the engineers who developed the cars.[17]

1965–1966: Lamborghini arrives

Gian Paolo Dallara took on the challenge of improving Bizzarini's V12 design, increasing displacement to 3.9-litres, upping power to 320 bhp at 6,500 rpm.[17] The engine was first installed inside a 350GT chassis, effectively creating the car that came to be known as the "interim 400GT", of which 23 copies were produced. By 1966, a stretched, 2+2 version of the 350GT had been developed, and the roomier 400GT was unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show that year. The 400GT was received favorably by the automotive press, with Road & Track calling it "the finest GT car we've ever driven."[18][19] The car sold a total of 250 copies, being favourably compared to contemporary Ferraris.[18][20] This enabled Lamborghini to increase the labor force at his factory to 170.[17] Two prototype cars based on the 400GT were produced by the Zagato coachworks in Turin. Despite the popularity of the designs, Ferruccio preferred to direct his efforts towards making the most of his own factory and employees, rather than commissioning outside styling and engineering work.[14] Lamborghini was especially mindful of the importance of continuing service for owners, and constructed a facility that was capable of performing everything from minor service to major work on Lamborghini cars.

The 400GT (foreground) was a 2+2, roomier than the car it was based on. The Miura (background) moved the engine to the rear of the car; the car began as the pet project of Lamborghini's three top engineers

During 1965, Dallara, Stanzani, and Wallace put their own time into the development of a prototype car known as the P400. The engineers envisioned a road car with racing pedigree; a car which could win on the track and be driven on the road by enthusiasts.[14] The three men worked on the car's design at night, hoping to sway Lamborghini from the opinion that such a vehicle would be too expensive and would distract from the company's focus. When finally brought aboard, Lamborghini allowed his engineers to go ahead, deciding that the P400 was a potential marketing tool, if nothing more. The car featured a transversely-mounted mid-engine layout, a departure from previous Lamborghini cars; the V12 was also unusual in that it was effectively merged with the transmission and differential, thanks to a lack of space in the tightly-wrapped design. The rolling chassis was displayed at the Turin Salon in 1965; impressed showgoers placed orders for the car despite the lack of a body to go over the chassis. Bertone was placed in charge of styling the prototype, which was finished just days before its debut at the 1966 Geneva motor show. Curiously, none of the engineers had found time to check if the engine fit inside its compartment; committed to showing the car, they decided to fill the engine bay with ballast, and keep the hood locked throughout the show, as they had three years earlier for the debut of the 350GTV.[21] Sales boss Sgarzi was forced to turn away members of the motoring press who wanted to see the P400's power plant. Despite this setback, the car was the star of the show, making stylist Marcello Gandini a star in his own right. The favorable reaction at Geneva meant the P400 was to go into production by next year, under a different name, Miura. Lamborghini now had a two-pronged approach; the Miura positioned the fledgling automaker as a leader in the world of supercars, and the 400GT was the sophisticated road car Lamborghini had desired since the beginning. With Automobili and his other business interests booming, Ferruccio Lamborghini's life had reached a high point.

By the end of 1966, the workforce at the Sant'Agata factory had expanded to 300. Enough deposits had been made by eager Miura buyers to begin the development program in 1967. Ferruccio continued to clash with his engineering team on the subject of racing the Miura. The first four cars were kept at the factory, where Bob Wallace continued to improve and refine the car. By December, 108 cars had been delivered.[22] The Miura set a precedent for mid-engined two-seater high performance sports cars.[23] The factory continued to produce copies of the 400GT, along with several 350 GTS Roadsters, a convertible model produced by Touring. Ferruccio commissioned the coachbuilder once more to envision a possible replacement for the 400GT, based on the same chassis. Touring created the 400 GT Flying Star II, a poorly-finished, ungainly vehicle. Also asked to prepare a concept were Giorgio Neri and Luciano Bonacini, of Neri and Bonacini coachbuilders in Modena produced the 400GT Monza. Lamborghini rejected both the cars, unconvinced by the coachbuilders' efforts.[24] Facing mounting financial difficulties, Touring would close its doors later that year.

1967–1968: Beginning of sales success

The Islero was a sales disappointment, but faithful to Ferruccio's ideal of a reliable grand tourer

Ferruccio, still seeking a replacement for the 400GT, sought the help of Bertone designer Mario Marazzi, formerly of Touring. Together with Lamborghini's engineers, the coachbuilder created a four-seater named the Marzal. The chassis was essentially a stretched version of the one underpinning the Miura, and the engine was an in-line six-cylinder that was effectively one-half of Lamborghini's V12 design.[25] The car featured gullwing doors and an enormous glass windows. Despite its innovative design, Ferruccio once again passed over the car as the 400GT's replacement. Marazzi toned down his design, at the discretion of Lamborghini himself. The resulting car, the Islero 400GT, was mostly a reskinned 400GT, and not the full four-seater the Ferruccio desired, though he was happy with the car, as it represented the gran turismo product that Ferruccio enjoyed driving, in addition to being well-developed and reliable.[26] The Islero did not have a great impact on the market; only 125 copies were made between 1968 and 1969.[27]

External videos
Amateur video of the Sant'Agata factory, followed by a drive in an Islero

New versions of the Miura arrived in 1968; the Miura P400 S (more commonly known as the Miura S) featured a stiffened chassis and more power, with the V12 developing 370 bhp at 7000 rpm. At the 1968 Brussels auto show, the automaker unveiled the Miura P400 Roadster (more commonly the Miura Spider), an open-top version of the coupé. Gandini, by now effectively the head of design at Bertone, had paid great attention to the details, particularly the problems of wind buffeting and noise insulation inherent to a roadster.[28] For all of Gandini's hard work, Sgarzi was forced to turn potential buyers away, as Lamborghini and Bertone were unable to reach a consensus on the size of a theoretical roadster production run. The Miura Spider was sold off to an American metal alloy supplier, who wanted to use it as a marketing device. 1968 was a positive time for all of Ferruccio's businesses, and Automobili delivered 353 cars over the course of the year.[28]

The Espada was Lamborghini's first truly popular model, with more than 1,200 sold during its ten years of production

Bertone was able to persuade Lamborghini to allow them to design a brand-new four-seater. The shape was penned by Marcello Gandini, and a bodyshell delivered to Ferruccio for inspection. The businessman was less than pleased with the enormous gullwing doors that Gandini had included, and insisted that the car would have to feature conventional doors.[25] The car that resulted from the collaboration was debuted at the 1969 Geneva show with the name Espada, powered by a 3.9-litre, front-mounted evolution of the factory's V12, producing 325 bhp. The Espada was a runaway success, with a total production run of 1,217 cars over ten years of production.[26]

Dallara was hired away from Lamborghini to run the F1 program at De Tomaso Modena, designing a chassis for the Frank Williams Racing Cars team in 1970

1968–1969: Difficulties overcome

In August 1968, Gian Paolo Dallara, frustrated with Ferruccio Lamborghini's refusal to participate in motorsport, was recruited away from Sant'Agata to head the Formula One program at rival automaker De Tomaso in Modena. With profits on the rise, a racing program would have been a possibility, but Lamborghini remained against even the construction of prototypes, stating his mission as: "I wish to build GT cars without defects - quite normal, conventional but perfect - not a technical bomb."[29] With cars like the Islero and the Espada, his aim to establish himself and his cars as equal or superior to the works of Enzo Ferrari had been satisfied. Dallara's assistant, Paulo Stanzani, would assume his old boss' role as technical director. Unfortunately for Dallara, the De Tomaso F1 program was underfunded, and the automaker barely survived the experience; the engineer left the company soon after.[30]

In 1969, Automobili Lamborghini encountered problems with its fully unionized work force, among which the machinists and fabricators had begun to take one-hour token stoppages as part of a national campaign due to strained relations between the metal workers' union and Italian industry.[30] Ferruccio Lamborghini, who often rolled up his sleeves and joined in the work on the factory floor, was able to motivate his staff to continue working towards their common goal despite the disruptions.

The Jarama was a shortened, sportier version of the Espada

Throughout that year, Lamborghini's product range, then consisting of the Islero, the Espada, and the Miura S, received upgrades across the board, with the Miura receiving a power boost, the Islero being upgraded to "S" trim, and the Espada gaining comfort and performance upgrades which allowed it to reach speeds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h). The Islero was slated to be replaced by a shortened yet higher-performing version of the Espada, the Jarama 400GT. The 3.9-litre V12 was retained, its compression ratio increasing to 10.5:1.[31]

The Urraco was the first clean-sheet Lamborghini design since the 350GTV

By the time the Jarama was unveiled at the 1970 Geneva show, Paulo Stanzani was at work on a new clean-sheet design, which would use no parts from previous Lamborghini cars. Changes in tax laws and a desire to make full use of the factory's manufacturing capacity meant that the Italian automaker would follow the direction taken by Ferrari, with its Dino 246 and Porsche, with its 911, and produce a smaller, V8-powered 2+2 car, the Urraco. The 2+2 body style was selected as a concession to practicality, with Ferruccio acknowledging that Urraco owners might have children.[31] The single overhead cam V8 designed by Stanzani produced 220 bhp at 5000 rpm. Bob Wallace immediately began road testing and development; the car was to be presented at the 1970 Turin motor show.[31]

In 1970, Lamborghini began development of a replacement for the Miura, which was a pioneering model, but had interior noise levels that Ferruccio Lamborghini found unacceptable and nonconforming to his brand philosophy.[32] Engineers designed a new, longer chassis that placed the engine longitudinally, further away from the driver's seat. Designated the LP500 for its 4.97-litre version of the company's V12, the prototype was styled by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. The car was presented was debuted at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, alongside the final revision of the Miura, the P400 SuperVeloce. Completing the Lamborghini range were the Espada 2, the Urraco P250, and the Jarama GT.[33]

1971–1972: Financial pressures

As a world financial crisis began to take hold, Ferruccio Lamborghini's companies began to run into financial difficulties. In 1971, Lamborghini's tractor company, which exported around half of its production, ran into difficulties. Cento, Trattori's South African importer, cancelled all its orders. After staging a successful coup d'état, the new military government of Bolivia cancelled a large order of tractors that was partially ready to ship from Genoa. Trattori's employees, like Automobili's, were unionized and could not be laid off. In 1972, Lamborghini sold his entire holding in Trattori to SAME, another tractor builder.[6][34]

The entire Lamborghini group was now finding itself in financial troubles. Development at the automaker slowed; the production version of the LP500 missed the 1972 Geneva Show, and only the P400 GTS version of the Jarama was on display. Faced with a need to cut costs, Paulo Stanzani set aside the LP500's powerplant, slating a smaller, 4-litre engine for production.[35] Ferruccio Lamborghini began courting buyers for Automobili and Trattori; he entered negotiations with Georges-Henri Rossetti, a wealthy Swiss businessman and friend of Ferruccio's, as well as being the owner of an Islero and an Espada.[35] Ferruccio sold Rossetti 51% of the company for US$600,000, thereby relinquishing control of the automaker he had founded. He continued to work at the Sant'Agata factory; Rossetti rarely involved himself in Automobili's affairs.[34]

1973–1974: Ferruccio bows out

The 1973 oil crisis plagued the sales of high performance cars from manufacturers around the world; the rising price of oil caused governments to mandate new fuel economy laws, and consumers to seek smaller, more practical modes of transportation. Sales of Lamborghini's exotic sports cars, propelled by high-powered engines with little consideration for fuel efficiency, (the 1986 Countach, powered by a 5.2-litre evolution of the V12 engine, had a 6 mpg-US (39 L/100 km; 7.2 mpg-imp) city and 10 mpg-US (24 L/100 km; 12 mpg-imp) highway United States Environmental Protection Agency rating)[36] suffered greatly.

In 1974, Ferruccio Lamborghini sold his remaining 49% stake in the company to René Leimer, a friend of Georges-Henri Rossetti.[1] Having severed all connections with the cars that bore his name, he retired to an estate on the shores of Lake Trasimeno, in the frazione of Panicarola in Castiglione del Lago, a town in the province of Perugia in the Umbria region of central Italy, where he would remain until his last days.[5]

The Countach, then the most popular and successful Lamborghini in history, was in production from 1974 to 1988

1974–1977: The Rossetti-Leimer era

In 1974, the LP500 finally entered production as the Countach, powered by a smaller, 4.0-litre V12. The first production model was delivered in 1974. In 1976, the Urraco P300 was revamped into the Silhouette, featuring a Targa top and a 3-litre V8. Its poor build quality, reliability, and ergonomics all worked against it, as did the fact that it could only be imported into the U.S. via the "grey market". Only 54 were produced.[37] The Countach was also hampered by its lack of direct participation in the American market until the LP500 version, released in 1982.

1978–1987: Bankruptcy and Mimran

The Jalpa, an update of the failed Silhouette, was the only new car released during receivership

As the years passed, Lamborghini's situation became even more dire; the company entered bankruptcy in 1978, and the Italian courts took control. They first appointed Dr. Alessandro Arteses to run the company's operations, but a year later, Raymond Noima and Hubert Hahne, who was Lamborghini’s German importer, were appointed to take over the running of the company.[38] In 1980, the Swiss Mimran brothers (Jean-Claude and Patrick),[39] famed food entrepreneurs[40] with a passion for sports cars, were appointed to administer the company during its receivership. During administration, the automaker reworked the failed Silhouette into the Jalpa, which was powered by a 3.5-litre V8 that had been modified by former Maserati great, Giulio Alfieri. More successful than the Silhouette, the Jalpa came closer to achieving the goal of a more affordable, livable version of the Countach.[41] The Countach was also updated, finally allowing it to be sold in the U.S. with the release of the LP500 model in 1982.[42] By 1984, the company was officially in the hands of the Swiss. The Mimrans began a comprehensive restructuring program, injecting large amounts of capital into the floundering automaker. The Sant'Agata facilities were rehabilitated, and a worldwide hiring campaign to find new engineering and design talent began in earnest.[1]

The LM002 sport-utility vehicle was introduced under Mimran ownership

The immediate results of the investment were good. A Countach "Quattrovolve", producing a mighty 455 bhp, was released in 1984; the fumbling Cheetah project resulted in the release of the Lamborghini LM002 sport utility vehicle in 1986. However, despite the Mimrans' efforts, the investments proved insufficient to revive the company. Seeking a large, stable financial partner, the brothers met with representatives of one of America's "Big Three" automakers, the Chrysler Corporation.[1] In April 1987, in an acquisition spearheaded by Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, the American company took control of the Italian automaker, after paying out $33 million[Notes 2] to the Mimrans.[43] According to Jolliffe, the Mimran brothers were the only owners of Lamborghini to ever make money out of the company, having sold it for many times the dollar amount they paid for it six years earlier.[43]

1987–1994: Chrysler takes over

Iacocca, who had previously orchestrated a near-miraculous turnaround of Chrysler after the company nearly fell into bankruptcy, carried out his decision to purchase Lamborghini with no challenges from the board of directors. Chrysler people were appointed to Lamborghini's board, but many of the company's key members remained in managing positions, including Alfieri, Marmiroli, Venturelli, and Ceccarani. Ubaldo Sgarzi continued in his role as head of the sales department.[44] To begin its revival, Lamborghini received a cash injection to the tune of $50 million.[1] The automaker's new owner was interested in entering the "extra premium" sports car market, which it estimated at about 5,000 cars per year, worldwide. Chrysler aimed to produce a car to compete with the Ferrari 328 by 1991,[44] and also wanted the Italians to produce an engine that could be used in a Chrysler car for the American market. The decision was made to finally take the company into motorsport; the effort would be known as Lamborghini Engineering S.p.A., and would develop engines for Grand Prix teams. The new division was based in Modena, and given an initial budget of $5 million.[45] Danielle Audetto would be the manager, and Emile Novaro the president; their first recruit was Mauro Forghieri, a man with a stellar reputation in the world of motorsport, who had formerly managed Ferrari's Formula 1 team. Forghiere set about designing a 3.5-litre V12 engine, independent of road-car engine design undertaken at Sant'Agata.[46]

Forghiere designed a V12 engine for Lamborghini's Formula 1 venture

At the time, Lamborghini was working on a successor to the Countach, the Diablo. The car's original design had been penned by Marcello Gandini, the veteran who had penned the exterior appearances of the Miura and the Countach while working for coachbuilder Bertone. However, Chrysler executives, unimpressed with Gandini's work, commissioned the American car-maker's own design team to execute a third extensive redesign of the car's body, smoothing out the trademark sharp edges and corners of Gandini's original design; the Italian was left famously unimpressed with the finished product.[47][48] The Diablo had been intended for release in time for September 1988, when Lamborghini would celebrate its 25th anniversary; once it was clear that mark would be missed, a final version of the Countach was rushed into production instead.[49] The Anniversary Countach was later acclaimed as the finest version of the car to be built.[50]

By the end of 1987, Emile Novaro had returned from his long recovery, and used his authority to halt Chrysler's increasing interference in the development of the Diablo. Much to the chagrin of the Fighting Bull, Chrysler exhibited a four-door concept car at the Frankfurt Auto Show, badged as a 'Chrysler powered by Lamborghini'. The Portofino was poorly received by the motoring press and Lamborghini's employees alike,[51] but went on to become the inspiration for the Dodge Intrepid sedan.

In April 1988, the Bertone Genesis, a Quattrovalvole V12-powered, Lamborghini-branded vehicle resembling a minivan was debuted at the Turin motor show. The unusual car, intended to gauge public reactions, was abandoned, a misfit in both Lamborghini's and Chrysler's product ranges.[51] The Genesis had been commissioned alongside the new "baby Lambo" that would replace the Jalpa, occupying the then-empty space below the Diablo in Lamborghini's lineup. The project had been allocated a $25 million budget, with the prospect of selling more than 2,000 cars per year.[51]

The Diablo was the fastest car in production when it was released in 1990

The Diablo was released to the public on January 21, 1990, at an event at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. The Diablo was the fastest car in production in the world at the time, and sales were so brisk that Lamborghini began to turn a profit. The company's U.S. presence had previously consisted of loosely affiliated and disorganized private dealer network; Chrysler established an efficient franchise with full service and spare parts support. The company also began to develop its V12 engines for powerboat racing. Profits increased past the $1 million mark in 1991, and Lamborghini enjoyed a positive era.[1]

1994–1997: Indonesian ownership

Setiawan Djody also owned supercar maker Vector (a Vector W8 is pictured here), and hoped that Lamborghini and Vector would collaborate to the benefit of both companies

The uptick in fortunes was to be brief; in 1992, sales crashed, as the $239,000 Diablo proved ultimately to be unaccessible to American enthusiasts. With Lamborghini bleeding money, Chrysler decided that the automaker was no longer producing enough cars to justify its investment. The American company began looking for someone to take Lamborghini off its hands, and found it in a holding company called MegaTech. The company was registered in Bermuda and wholly owned by Indonesian conglomerate SEDTCO Pty., headed by businessmen Setiawan Djody and Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of then-Indonesian President Suharto. By February 1994, after $40 million had changed hands, Lamborghini had left Italian ownership, and MegaTech took over the automaker, its Modena racing engine factory, and the American dealer interest, Lamborghini USA.[1] Djody, who also owned a 35% stake in troubled American supercar manufacturer Vector Motors, thought Vector and Lamborghini might be able to collaborate to improve their output. Michael J. Kimberly, formerly of Lotus, Jaguar and executive vice-president General Motors, was appointed president and managing director. After reviewing the entire Lamborghini operation, Kimberly concluded that the company needed to expand its offerings from more than just one or two models, and provide a car accessible to American car enthusiasts. He implemented a marketing strategy to raise awareness of Lamborghini's heritage and mystique. In 1995, Lamborghini produced a hit, when the Diablo was updated to the top-end SuperVeloce model. But in 1995, even as sales were climbing, the company was restructured, with Tommy Suharto's V'Power Corporation holding a 60% interest, MyCom Bhd., a Malaysian company controlled by Jeff Yap, holding the other 40%.[1]

The Diablo would be Lamborghini's mainstay throughout the 90s, and was continuously updated throughout the various changes in ownership

Never leaving the red despite its increase in sales, in November 1996 Lamborghini hired Vittorio di Capua as President and CEO, hoping that the veteran of more than 40 years at auto giant Fiat S.p.A. could finally make the sports car maker profitable again. Di Capua immediately launched cost-cutting measures, letting go of a number of company executives and consultants, and overhauling production in order to achieve a 50 percent gain in productivity. In 1997, Lamborghini finally passed its break-even point, selling 209 Diablos, thirteen more than it needed to be profitable. Di Capua also leveraged the Lamborghini name and identity, implementing aggressive merchandising and licensing deals. Development of the "baby Lambo" finally began, moving forward with a $100 million budget.[1]

The financial crisis that gripped Asia in July of that year set the stage for another ownership change. The new chairman of Volkswagen AG, Ferdinand Piëch, grandson of Volkswagen's founder, Ferdinand Porsche, went on a buying spree through 1998, which included the acquisition of Lamborghini for around $110 million. Lamborghini was purchased through Volkswagen's luxury car division, AUDI AG. Audi spokesman Juergen de Graeve told the Wall Street Journal that Lamborghini "could strengthen Audi's sporty profile, and on the other hand Lamborghini could benefit from our technical expertise."[1]

The Murciélago marked Lamborghini's return to economic stability

1999–present: Audi steps in

Only five years after leaving American ownership, Lamborghini was now under German control. Yet again, the troubled Italian automaker was reorganized, becoming restructured into a holding company, Lamborghini Holding S.p.A., with Audi president Franz-Josef Paefgen as its chairman. Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. became a subsidiary of the holding company, allowing it to focus specifically on designing and building cars while separate interests took care of the company's licensing deals and marine engine manufacturing. Vittorio Di Capua originally remained in charge, but eventually resigned in June 1999. He was replaced by Giuseppe Greco, another industry veteran with experience at Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Ferrari. The Diablo's final evolution, the GT, was released, but not exported to the U.S., its low-volume production making it uneconomical to go through the process of gaining emissions and crashworthiness approval.

In much the same way that American ownership had influenced the design of the Diablo, Lamborghini's new German parent played a large role in the creation of the Diablo's replacement. The first new Lamborghini in more than a decade, known internally as Project L140, represented the rebirth of Lamborghini, and was named, fittingly, for the bull that originally sired the Miura line that had inspired Ferruccio Lamborghini almost 40 years before: Murciélago. The new flagship car was styled by Belgian Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini's new head of design.

The "Baby Lambo", envisioned in 1997, was introduced in 2003 as the Gallardo

Under German ownership, Lamborghini found stability that it had not seen in many years. In 2003, Lamborghini followed up the Murciélago with the smaller, V10-equipped Gallardo, intended to be a more accessible and more livable than the Murciélago. In 2007, Wolfgang Egger was appointed as the new head of design of Audi and Lamborghini, replacing Walter de'Silva, who was responsible for the design of only one car during his appointment, the Miura Concept of 2006.

2008 saw the release of the Murciélago-derived, stealth fighter-inspired Reventón, an extremely limited-edition supercar that carried the distinction of being the most powerful and expensive Lamborghini ever sold. The most recent models released are the 2009 Murciélago LP 670-4 SV, a SuperVeloce version of Lamborghini's halo supercar, and the 2009 Reventón Roadster. The automaker has recently seen sales begin to decrease from a high of 2,580 units in 2007; the slide in sales, attributed to the effects of the world financial crisis, led CEO Stephan Winkelmann to predict poor sales for supercars through 2011.[52] In 2010, the automaker produced the 4,000th Murciélago, an LP 670-4 SV, destined for delivery in China. At the time, the growing Asia-Pacific vehicle market represented 25 percent of Lamborghini's sales.[53]

Vehicle lineup

Current range

As of 2009, the current range consists entirely of mid-engined two-seater sports cars: the V12-powered Murciélago LP640, LP640 Roadster and LP670-4 SV, and the smaller, V10-powered Gallardo LP560-4 and Spyder. Limited-edition versions of these four cars are also produced from time to time.

Concept models

The Concept S, a Gallardo derivative
The Estoque, a 2008 sedan concept

Throughout its history, Lamborghini has envisioned and presented a variety of concept cars, beginning in 1963 with the very first Lamborghini prototype, the 350GTV. Other famous models include Bertone's 1967 Marzal, 1974 Bravo, and 1980 Athon, Chrysler's 1987 Portofino, the Italdesign-styled Cala from 1995, and the Zagato-built Raptor from 1996.

A retro-styled Lamborghini Miura concept car, the first creation of chief designer Walter de'Silva, was presented in 2006. President and CEO Stephan Winkelmann denied that the concept would be put into production, saying that the Miura concept was "a celebration of our history, but Lamborghini is about the future. Retro design is not what we are here for. So we won’t do the [new] Miura.”[54]

At the 2008 Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini revealed the Estoque, a four-door sedan concept. Although there had been much speculation regarding the Estoque's eventual production,[55][56] Lamborghini management has not made a decision regarding production of what might be the first four-door car to roll out of the Sant'Agata factory.[57]


The Miura began as a clandestine prototype, a car that had racing pedigree in a company that was entirely against motorsport

In contrast to his rival Enzo Ferrari, Ferruccio Lamborghini had decided early on that there would be no factory-supported racing of Lamborghinis, viewing motorsport as too expensive and too draining on company resources.[citation needed] This was unusual for the time, as many sports car manufacturers sought to demonstrate the speed, reliability, and technical superiority through motorsport participation. Enzo Ferrari in particular was known for considering his road car business merely a source of funding for his participation in motor racing. Ferrucio's policy led to tensions between him and his engineers, many of whom were racing enthusiasts; some had previously worked at Ferrari. When Dalara, Stanzani, and Wallace began dedicating their spare time to the development of the P400 prototype, which would eventually become the Miura. They designed it to be a road car with racing pedigree, one that could win on the track and also be driven on the road by enthusiasts.[14] When Ferruccio discovered the project, he allowed them to go ahead, seeing it as a potential marketing device for the company, while insisting that it would not be raced.

The closest the company came to building a true race car under Lamborghini's supervision were a few highly modified prototypes, including those built by factory test driver Bob Wallace, such as the Miura SV-based "Jota" and the Jarama S-based "Bob Wallace Special". Under the management of Georges-Henri Rossetti, Lamborghini entered into an agreement with BMW to build a production racing car in sufficient quantity for homologation. However, Lamborghini was unable to fulfill its part of the agreement. The car was eventually developed in-house by the BMW Motorsport Division, and was manufactured and sold as the BMW M1.[58][59]

The 1991 Lotus 102B, which featured a Judd V8 in place of the unreliable Lamborghini V12 used in the original 102

In the 1980s, Lamborghini developed the QVX for the 1986 Group C championship season. One car was built, but lack of sponsorship caused it to miss the season. The QVX competed in only one race, the non-championship 1986 Southern Suns 500 km race at Kyalami in South Africa, driven by Tiff Needell. Despite the car finishing better than it started, sponsorship could once again not be found and the program was cancelled.[60]

Lamborghini was an engine supplier in Formula One between the 1989 and 1993 Formula One seasons. It supplied engines to Larrousse (1989–1990,1992–1993), Lotus (1990), Ligier (1991), Minardi (1992), and to the Modena team in 1991. While the latter is commonly referred to as a factory team, the company saw themselves as a supplier, not a backer. The 1992 Larrousse–Lamborghini was largely uncompetitive but noteworthy in its tendency to spew oil from its exhaust system. Cars following closely behind the Larrousse were commonly colored yellowish-brown by the end of the race.[citation needed]

In late 1991, a Lamborghini Formula One motor was used in the Konrad KM-011 Group C sports car, but the car only lasted a few races before the project was canceled. The same engine, re-badged a Chrysler by Lamborghini's then parent company, was tested by McLaren towards the end of the 1993 season, with the intent of using it during the 1994 season. Although driver Ayrton Senna was reportedly impressed with the engine's performance, McLaren pulled out of negotiations, choosing a Peugeot engine instead, and Chrysler ended the project.

A Murcielago R-GT participating in the FIA GT Championship at Silverstone in 2006

Two racing versions of the Diablo were built for the Diablo Supertrophy, a single-model racing series held annually from 1996 to 1999. In the first year, the model used in the series was the Diablo SVR, while the Diablo 6.0 GTR was used for the remaining three years.[61][62] Lamborghini developed the Murciélago R-GT as a production racing car to compete in the FIA GT Championship, the Super GT Championship and the American Le Mans Series in 2004. The car's highest placing in any race that year was the opening round of the FIA GT Championship at Valencia, where the car entered by Reiter Engineering finished third from a fifth-place start.[63][64] In 2006, during the opening round of the Super GT championship at Suzuka, a car run by the Japan Lamborghini Owners Club garnered the first victory (in class) by an R-GT. A GT3 version of the Gallardo has been developed by Reiter Engineering.[65] A Murciélago R-GT entered by racing, driven by Christophe Bouchut and Stefan Mücke, won the opening round of the FIA GT Championship held at Zhuhai International Circuit, achieving the first major international race victory for Lamborghini.[66]


The Lamborghini wordmark, as displayed on the back of its cars

The world of bullfighting is a key part of Lamborghini's identity.[67][68][69] In 1962, Ferruccio Lamborghini visited the Seville ranch of Don Eduardo Miura, a renowned breeder of Spanish fighting bulls. Lamborghini, a Taurus himself, was so impressed by the majestic Miura animals that he decided to adopt a raging bull as the emblem for the automaker he would open shortly.[10]

After producing two cars with alphanumeric designations, Lamborghini once again turned to the bull breeder for inspiration. Don Eduardo was filled with pride when he learned that Ferruccio had named a car for his family and their line of bulls; the fourth Miura to be produced was unveiled to him at his ranch in Seville.[10][21]

The automaker would continue to draw upon the bullfighting connection in future years. The Islero was named for the Miura bull that killed the famed bullfighter Manolete in 1947. Espada is the Spanish word for sword, sometimes used to refer to the bullfighter himself. The Jarama's name carried a special double meaning; intended to refer only to the historic bullfighting region in Spain, Ferruccio was concerned about confusion with the also historic Jarama motor racing track.[31]

The Diablo (background) was named for a legendary bull, while the Countach (foreground) broke from the bullfighting tradition

After christening the Urraco after a bull breed, in 1974, Lamborghini broke from tradition, naming the Countach not for a bull, but for countach! (pronounced [kunˈtɑtʃ] ( listen)), an exclamation of astonishment used by Piedmontese men upon sighting a beautiful woman.[70] Legend has it that stylist Nuccio Bertone uttered the word in surprise when he first laid eyes on the Countach prototype, "Project 112".[71] The LM002 sport utility vehicle and the Silhouette were other exceptions to the tradition.

The Jalpa of 1982 was named for a bull breed; Diablo, for the Duke of Veragua's ferocious bull famous for fighting an epic battle against "El Chicorro" in Madrid in 1869;[46][47] Murciélago, the legendary bull whose life was spared by "El Lagartijo" for his performance in 1879; Gallardo, named for one of the five ancestral castes of the Spanish fighting bull breed;[72] and Reventón, the bull that defeated young Mexican torero Félix Guzmán in 1943. The Estoque concept of 2008 was named for the estoc, the sword traditionally used by matadors during bullfights.[73]

Corporate affairs

Lamborghini is structured as part of the Lamborghini Group, consisting of a holding company, Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A., with three separate companies: Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., manufacturer of cars; Motori Marini Lamborghini S.p.A., maker of marine engines; and Lamborghini ArtiMarca S.p.A., the licensing and merchandising company.[1] The group additionally contains Volkswagen Group Italia S.p.A. and Volkswagen Group Firenze S.p.A.[74]

Motori Marini Lamborghini produces a large V12 marine engine block for use in powerboat racing, notably the World Offshore Series Class 1. The engine displaces around 8,171 cc (499 cu in) with an output of around 940 hp (700 kW).[75]

Automobili Lamborghini Artimarca licenses Automobili Lamborghini's name and image for use on other companies' products and accessories. Examples include a variety of apparel items, various model car lines, and the ASUS Lamborghini VX series notebook computers.

Sales history

Year Units sold
500 1,000 1,500 2,000 2,500
Ferruccio Lamborghini (1963–1972)
1968[28] 353  
Georges-Henri Rossetti and René Leimer (1972–1977)
Receivership (1977–1984)
Patrick Mimran (1984–1987)
Chrysler Corporation (1987–1994)
1991[1] 673  
1992[1] 166  
1993[1] 215  
MegaTech (1994–1995)
V'Power and Mycom Sedtco (1995–1998)
1996[76] 211  
1997[1] 209  
AUDI AG (1998–present)
1999[77] 264  
2000[78] 291  
2001[79] 280  
2002[80] 442  
2003[81] 1,357  
2004[81] 1,678  
2005[82] 1,436  
2006[83] 2,095  
2007[84] 2,580
2008[85] 2,430  
2009[86] 1,253  

Lamborghini of Latin America

Automóviles Lamborghini Latinoamérica S.A. (English: Lamborghini Automobiles of Latin America S.A.) is a Mexican company that builds cars bearing the Lamborghini name under license from the Italian automaker. The licensing agreement was struck in 1995, while Automobili Lamborghini was owned by Indonesian corporation MegaTech and helmed by Michael Kimberly. The Mexican group was allowed to sell merchandise related to Lamborghini, and the contract included a clause that allowed them to "carry on the promotion and sale worldwide, of the vehicles which are manufactured or assembled with its "own restyling" within the Territory of the Mexican United States, and/or Latinoamerica."[87][88] Automóviles Lamborghini has produced two rebodied versions of the Diablo called the Eros and the Coatl under its licensing agreement. The company is currently led by Jorge Antonio Fernandez Garcia.[89]


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  1. ^ S.p.A. stands for Società per Azioni, the Italian version of a Joint stock company.
  2. ^ In the next chapter, Jolliffe states, "Chrysler Corporation's $25.2m acquisition of the Fighting Bull..." Other sources agree with a figure closer to $25 million.



External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Ferruccio Lamborghini


  • (UK) IPA: /ˈlæm.bə(ɹ) SAMPA: /"l{m.b@(r)

Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:





  1. An Italian motor car manufacturer, a subsidiary of Audi.


An example of a Lamborghini.



Lamborghini (plural Lamborghinis)

  1. A motor car manufactured by this company


Proper noun


  1. A surname.

Simple English

Lamborghini is a Italian car company that makes sporty and powerful cars. They started making cars in 1963. They used to make the Miura, Countach, Reventon, and Diablo. They make the Gallardo (pronounced Giado) and the Murcielago (pronounced Mercialago or Merchilago) now. These are all Spanish names. For example Murcielago was the name of a famous bull.

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