|Type||Fully owned subsidiary|
|Founded||30 October 1963|
|Headquarters||Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy|
|Key people||Stephan Winkelmann,
Head of Design
|Production output||1,227 units (2010)|
|Revenue||US$97.5 million (2002)|
|Profit||US$18.1 million 2006|
Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.,[Notes 1] commonly referred to as Lamborghini (pronounced [lamborˈgiːni] ( listen)), is an Italian car manufacturer. The company was founded by manufacturing magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini in 1963, with the objective of producing a refined grand touring car to compete with established offerings from marques like Ferrari.
The company's first models were released in the mid-1960s, and were noted for their refinement, power and comfort. Lamborghini gained wide acclaim in 1966 for the Miura sports coupé, which established mid-engine design as the standard layout for high-performance cars of the era. After a decade of rapid growth, hard times befell the company in the mid-1970s, as sales plunged in the wake of the 1973 world financial downturn and oil crisis. After going through bankruptcy and three changes in ownership, Lamborghini came under the corporate umbrella of the Chrysler Corporation in 1987. The American company failed to return the automaker to profitability and sold it to Indonesian interests in 1994. Lamborghini's lack of success continued through the 1990s, until the company was sold in 1998 to Audi, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, a German automotive concern. Audi's ownership marked the beginning of a period of stability and increased productivity for Lamborghini, with sales increasing nearly tenfold over the course of the 2000s, peaking in record sales in 2007 and 2008. The world financial crisis in the late 2000s negatively affected luxury car makers worldwide, and saw Lamborghini's sales drop back to pre-2006 levels.
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. Fewer than 3,000 cars roll off the production line each year. The flagship V12-powered Murciélago coupé and roadster were discontinued at the end of 2010. Its successor, the Lamborghini Aventador, was released on 28 February 2011.
Automobili Lamborghini was founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini, the child of viticulturists from the comune (township) of Renazzo di Cento, Province of Ferrara, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. After serving as a mechanic in the Regia Aeronautica, 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., had become one of the largest agricultural equipment manufacturers in the country. He was also the owner of a successful gas heater and air conditioning manufacturer.
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. 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. Lamborghini decided to pursue an automobile manufacturing venture, with the goal of bringing to life his vision of a perfect grand tourer.
Prior to founding his company, Lamborghini had commissioned the engineering firm Società Autostar to design a V12 engine for use in his new cars. Lamborghini wanted the engine to have a similar displacement to Ferrari's 3-litre V12; however, he wanted the engine to be designed purely for road use, in contrast to the modified racing engines used by Ferrari in its road cars. Autostar was led by Giotto Bizzarrini, a member of the "Gang of Five" of Ferrari engineers, who had been responsible for creating the famous Ferrari 250 GTO, but left the company in 1961 after founder Enzo Ferrari announced his intention to reorganize the engineering staff. The engine Bizzarrini designed for Lamborghini had a displacement of 3.5 litres, a 9.5:1 compression ratio, and a maximum output of 360 bhp at 9800 rpm. Lamborghini was displeased with the engine's high revolutions and dry-sump lubrication system, both characteristic of the racing engines he specifically did not wish to use; when Bizzarrini refused to change the engine's design to make it more "well-mannered", Lamborghini refused to pay the agreed-upon fee of 4.5 million Italian lire (plus a bonus for every unit of brake horsepower the engine could produce over the equivalent Ferrari engine). Lamborghini did not fully compensate the designer until ordered to do so by the courts.
The first Lamborghini chassis design was created by Italian chassis engineer Gian Paolo Dallara of Ferrari and Maserati fame, together with a team that included Paolo Stanzani (then a recent college graduate) and Bob Wallace (a New Zealander who was known at Maserati for his keen sense of chassis handling and excellent feedback and developmental skills). The body was styled by the then-relatively unknown designer Franco Scaglione, who was selected by Ferruccio Lamborghini after passing over highly regarded names including Vignale, Ghia, Bertone, and Pininfarina.
The Lamborghini 350GTV was designed and built in only four months, in time for an October unveiling at the 1963 Turin Motor Show. Due to the ongoing disagreement with engine designer Giotto Bizzarrini, a working powerplant was not available for the prototype car in time for the show. The car went on display in Turin without an engine under its hood; according to lore, Ferruccio Lamborghini had the engine bay filled with bricks so that the car would sit at an appropriate height above the ground, and made sure that the bonnet stayed closed to hide the missing engine. The motoring press gave the 350GTV a warm response.
The Automobili Lamborghini Società per Azioni was officially incorporated on 30 October 1963. Ferruccio Lamborghini purchased a 46,000 square metres (500,000 sq ft) property at Via Modena, 12, in the township of Sant'Agata Bolognese, less than 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Cento; deep in the cradle of Italy's automobile industry, the location provided easy access to skilled labour and facilities. The township was chosen as the location for the factory due to a favorable financial agreement with the city's communist leadership, who promised Lamborghini a 19% interest rate on the company's profits when deposited in the bank, in addition to charging zero tax on the profits. As part of the agreement, the factory would be required to unionize its workers.
Despite the favorable press reviews of the 350GTV, Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to rework the car for production. The production model, which would be called the 350GT, was restyled by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, and a new chassis was constructed in-house. Bizzarrini's V12 engine would be detuned for mass production, developing only 280 hp rather than the designer's intended 360 bhp. The completed design debuted at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show, once again garnering positive reviews from the press. Production began shortly afterwards, and by the end of the year, cars had been built for 13 customers; Lamborghini sold each car at a loss in order to keep prices competitive with Ferrari's. The 350GT remained in production for a further two years, with a total of 120 cars sold.
In 1965, Gian Paolo Dallara made improvements to the Bizzarrini V12, increasing its displacement to 3.9 litres, and its power output to 320 bhp at 6,500 rpm. The engine was first installed in the 400GT, essentially a 350GT with the larger engine. At the 1966 Geneva Auto Show, Lamborghini debuted the 400GT 2+2, a stretched revision of the 350GT/400GT that featured 2+2 seating and other minor updates. The 400GT 2+2, like its predecessors, was well-received by the motoring press. The revenue from sales of the 2+2 allowed Lamborghini to increase the labour force at his factory to 170 employees, and expand services offered to Lamborghini customers.
During 1965, Dallara, Stanzani, and Wallace invested their personal time into the development of a prototype car that they envisioned as a road car with racing pedigree, capable of winning on the track as well as being driven on the road by enthusiasts. They hoped to eventually sway Ferruccio Lamborghini away from the opinion that such a car would be too expensive and distract from the company's focus. When finally brought aboard, Lamborghini allowed his engineers to go ahead, deciding that the car, known as the P400, would be useful as a potential marketing tool, if nothing more.
The car's rolling chassis, featuring an unusual-for-Lamborghini transversely mounted mid-engine layout, was displayed at the Turin Salon in 1965, impressing showgoers. A version with bodywork styled by Bertone was finished only days before its debut at the 1966 Geneva motor show. As had happened three years earlier at the debut of the 350GTV, an ill-fitting engine meant the prototype's engine bay was filled with ballast, and the hood kept locked. The favorable reaction to the P400 at Geneva led Lamborghini to slate the car for production by 1967, under the name Miura. The Miura's layout and styling would become the standard for mid-engine two-seat high-performance sports cars, a trend that continues today.
Lamborghini now had an offering that positioned the fledgling automaker as a leader in the world of supercars, while the 400GT was the sophisticated road car that Ferruccio Lamborghini had long desired to build. By end of 1966, the workforce at the Sant'Agata factory had expanded to 300, and enough deposits were made by prospective buyers to begin final development on the Miura in 1967. The first four cars produced were kept at the factory, where Bob Wallace continued to improve and refine the car. By December, 108 cars had been delivered.
Production of the 400GT continued, with Ferruccio Lamborghini seeking to replace the four-year-old design. Lamborghini commissioned Touring, which had styled the 350GT and original 400GT, to design a possible replacement based on the same chassis. Touring's 400 GT Flying Star II did not win Lamborghini's approval. Giorgio Neri and Luciano Bonacini, of Neri and Bonacini coachbuilders in Modena produced their own design, the 400GT Monza, which was rejected as well. Facing mounting financial difficulties, Touring would close its doors later that year.
Ferruccio Lamborghini turned to Bertone designer Mario Marazzi, who had formerly worked at Touring. Together with Lamborghini's engineers, he created a four-seater named the Marzal. The car rode on a stretched Miura chassis, and was powered by an in-line six-cylinder that was made from one-half of Lamborghini's V12 design. Despite an innovative design that featured gullwing doors and enormous glass windows, Lamborghini rejected the design. Eventually, a toned-down version became the Islero 400GT. While the car was not the full four-seater that he desired, Ferruccio Lamborghini thought the car represented a well-developed gran turismo product. It failed to attract buyers, with only 125 cars produced between 1968 and 1969.
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. 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.
|1968 video of the Sant'Agata factory, followed by 1969 footage of a drive in an Islero|
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 programme at rival automaker De Tomaso in Modena. With profits on the rise, a racing programme 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." 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 programme was underfunded, and the automaker barely survived the experience; the engineer left the company soon after.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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 160 mph (260 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.
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. 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.supsupsupsup