BY STEVEN JOSEPH
It is 5am on a grape farm in northern Italy. A man wakes before sunrise, as he has countless mornings before and will again countless more mornings in the future. After dressing in the dark and eating a meager breakfast he heads to his barn to ready his tractor for an early plow of his fields. He puts the key in the ignition of his diesel engine and is comforted by the throaty hum as it warms up. Then he tucks his pant legs into his work boots and climbs into…his Lamborghini?
I assure you, this is factually accurate. Granted, the story takes place in the 1940s, but everything else is correct. At one point Lamborghini was more synonymous with John Deere than it was with Ferrari, Maserati, or Alfa Romeo. This is because Ferruccio Lamborghini, the founder of the luxury sports car company, originally started out as a manufacturer of tractors and farming equipment.
Lamborghini was born on a grape farm in 1916 but was always more interested in the equipment than the farming itself. He studied to become a mechanic and then honed his skills in the Italian Army eventually becoming supervisor of the vehicle maintenance unit. After World War II he eventually returned home and started a company that manufactured farming equipment, becoming rich during the farming boom that followed in peacetime.
In the 1950s Lamborghini ventured into other areas of machinery, as well, starting companies that made oil heaters and air conditioning units. With his newfound wealth, he began amassing a collection of fast cars including a Mercedes, a Jaguar, and a Fiat. He spent his free time tinkering and racing before becoming infatuated with Ferraris. He shared a similar backstory with the company’s founder, Enzo Ferrari, both having been born to poor farming parents. After years of driving them, however, he became dissatisfied with the after-sales service, the constant need for repair, and the heaviness and unwieldiness that he felt made them a chore to drive.
Knowing that he could exponentially increase his profits if his automotive parts were installed into high-end sports cars instead of farming equipment, Lamborghini started his most famous venture in late 1962. He bought a large tract of land and announced the creation of “Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini” with plans to debut his first model at the Turin Auto
Show of 1963
With the unveiling of the 350 GTV that year, Lamborghini immediately attracted attention. The following year the 350 GT as well as the 400 GT were put on display, and by the time the 1967 Turin Auto Show rolled around, the company had an attractive array of vehicles in its repertoire. Headlining the show with the 400 GT 2+2 Coupe and the Miura models, Lamborghini finally had the publicity and reputation to begin turning a profit.
An explosion of Miura sales fueled the company’s growth and cash flow but just a few short years later, in 1973, the worldwide recession coupled with the gas crisis forced Ferruccio to sell his company. He didn’t retire from his entrepreneurial ways, though, buying a grape farm of his own and producing wine while managing his other interests until his death in 1993.
Lamborghini could have never imagined the direction the company would head in after its resurgence in the late ’90s and early ’00s. The body types and engines continued to evolve over the last 40 years and are now as impressive and recognizable as ever.
For a chance to see the lasting legacy of Italian innovation and design in your own backyard, check out Prestige Imports/Lamborghini of Miami (www.prestigeimports.com) at 14800 Biscayne Boulevard, North Miami Beach, FL 33181.
ITALY’S LAMBORGHINI MUSEUM
If you ever find yourself surrounded by every make and model of Lamborghini (including the 2013 Aventador Roadster hanging from the wall), you aren’t in the private garage of an NBA superstar or on the set of a garishly propped hip-hop music video. You have stumbled into the Lamborghini Museum in Modena, Italy.
Opened in 2001, the museum is available Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm, closing for an hour lunch from 12:30 to 1:30. Admission is 13 euros (10 for children) and the price goes up to 20 euros for a guided tour.
The museum is an homage to the automobile manufacturer from the first model through present day, and features several fascinating exhibits, including a feature on The Countach, the first model to break 300 kmh. The museum is also home to a multitude of prototypes and limited edition productions and is a must-see destination for any sports car or luxury automobile enthusiast. For more information, be sure to visit the museum’s website www.lamborghini.com/en/museum/overview.