Lamborghini Heritage

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Lamborghini 350GT
Dissatisfaction with his Ferrari would lead Ferruccio Lamborghini to develop the beautiful 350GT...

Lamborghini Miura
Even after retirement the Miura would be close to Ferruccio's heart; he would go on to produce a red wine called "Colli del Trasimento" or "Blood of the Miura"...

Lamborghini Miura
The "Miura" is a fearsome breed of Spanish fighting bull, the Pajero is Spanish for...

Lamborghini Urraco
The Urraco was the first ever 2+2 seater car with a mid-mounted engine configuration...

Lamborghini Espada
The Espada offered much better performance over the Urraco, courtesy of its sweet mid-mounted V12 engine, but amazingly still offered 2+2 seating...

Lamborghini Jalpa
The Jalpa was the last to be based on the design of the original Urraco; it gained a 'Targa' roof but lost the two rear seats...

Lamborghini Countach
Look what happens when you tell the designers that money is no object; you get funny doors...

Lamborghini Diablo
The Diablo, its performance in tune with its price-tag, breathtaking!

Was Ferruccio Lamborghini Snubbed Or Dissatisfied?

The story of Lamborghini begins naturally enough with Ferruccio Lamborghini, who was born on April 28, 1916 in a small Italian farming village by the name “Renazzo di Cento” in Ferrara.

Ferruccio’s parents noted early on that their son had a keen aptitude for anything mechanical, and so in WWII he was drafted into the Italian services where he repaired military vehicles.

After the war he turned his talents toward the manufacture of tractors from spare parts – no doubt in an effort to help his country recoup after suffering the devastation of the war years. His manufacturing empire quickly grew in stature, and not only included the production of tractors but also industrial heating equipment.

But as is the case with most men, his heart was captured by the automobile and, ever since winning the Mille Miglia in 1948, he had aspired to become a manufacturer in his own right.

His wealth afforded him the luxury of purchasing a new Ferrari; speculation however remains as to his being snubbed by Enzo Ferrari himself or, more likely, he being dissatisfied with his own Ferrari and confident that he could build something much better.

The Founding Of Lamborghini Automobili

In 1963 Ferruccio founded the “Lamborghini Automobili” company, and choose the symbol for his astrological birth sign, the Bull, as his new marques emblem. The Lamborghini factory was established at Saint Agata Bolognese, some 20 miles (32 km) from the Ferrari plant at Maranello.

Ferruccio hired the extremely talented Giotto Bizzarrini to design the engine, and equally talented Gianpaolo Dallara to design the chassis. Wisely, Ferruccio had chosen men with previous experience at the design facility at Ferrari, the company he firmly had in his sights as his main rival.

In March of 1964 the first production car arrived, the 350 GT. It was this car, together with the 400 GT and the 400 GT 2+2 that made the Lamborghini name known throughout the world; and it was the “Miura” that made it legendary – but we are getting ahead of ourselves!

The 350 and 400 GT’s were relatively conventional front-engined cars, but making the conventional extraordinary was the magnificent quad-cam V12 engine of 3.5 and 4 liters respectively. But to compete with his arch rival, Ferruccio needed a mid-engined car; the answer came in the form of the mighty Miura.

The Miura Becomes The Benchmark Super Car

Originally the Miura was designed as a racing sports-car, but Ferruccio could see the blistering performance of the car would prove a Ferrari killer and so ordered his design team to tame the beast into something capable of road use. Rather than mount the engine in a traditional North-South configuration, the designers choose to mount it transversely across the frame and mate it to a silky-smooth 5 speed all-synchro gearbox.

The exterior was styled by Bertone and, in keeping with the ‘Bull’ theme, the car was dubbed the Miura – a fearsome breed of Spanish fighting Bulls. Despite the cars pedigree, Lamborghini management knew the cost of the car would preclude most purchasers and so intended for a very short production run.

When it was launched at the Geneva Motor Show of 1966, the resultant flood of orders would force a quick change of plans – little did Ferruccio know his beloved Miura was about to become the Super-car of the 1960’s!

The lovely shape of the Miura was made distinctive by the use of retractable headlights, laying flush with the bonnet and facing skywards when not in use. To top it off, "eyelashes" were added to the flip-up lights to create an extremely good looking front, while the louvered engine cover at the rear made it arguably the best-looking Lamborghini ever.

The first engine fitted to the Miura was good for 350bhp at 7000rpm, but the subsequent Miura 400S produced an amazing 370bhp, a figure that would continue to grow with the later SV version.

The P400 and P400S models were considered by many to be the more refined cars, both good for a top speed of around 170mph (273.5 km/h) although they naturally used copious amounts of fuel. The Miura production would last for eight years, through to 1973, by which time some 762 had been manufactured.

The More Practical Urraco

Less revered, but far less expensive, the V8 engined Urraco afforded the family man an excuse to buy a Lamborghini by provision of 2+2 seating. However the timing of its release could not have been worse, coinciding with the 1970’s fuel-crisis.

Those that could afford a Lamborghini, an expensive one that is, could easily cope with the added cost of fuel, but the less well-heeled remained fearful of the prospect of owning a V8 (or V-anything for that matter) and the expected sales did not eventuate.

Technically speaking, the Urraco was quite interesting. Apart from Lamborghini fans, most that have read this will be expecting the Urraco’s layout to be front-engined – and yes they would be wrong. It was the very first 2+2 mid-engined car in the world, coming even earlier than the Ferrari 308GT4.

Now used to the enormous power of the infamous Lamborghini V12 engines, the Urraco’s single-overhead-cam 2.5 liter V8 seemed thoroughly underwhelming – a fact that car reviewers the world over were quick to point out! Lamborghini upgraded the engine to a 3 liter DOHC unit (dubbed the Urraco P300), this latter car proving to be an excellent GT, with sensuous handling accompanied with excellent brakes.

Between 1974 and 1976, only 776 Urracos were made (see the gallery page for a breakdown of manufactured numbers by model), which was well below Lamborghini's expectation. Lamborghini would try to breathe new life into the car with a makeover named the Silhouette, much like the original Urraco but fitted with a “Targa” roof. Finally the car would transform into the 2 seater “Jalpa”, before finally ending production in 1988.

But back to the V12’s – and Super-car performance. Lamborghini again designed a racing sports-car, the formidable “Countach”, its name coming from the Piedmontese exclamation of amazement!!

The Countach Is Revealed In Geneva

The Countach was first seen at the 1971 Geneva motor show, born from the design brief that it should be “to build the ultimate no-compromise high-performance road car”. As cost was not mentioned in the brief, the designers discarded its consideration and delivered arguably the most evocative and desirable sports car design to date. Styled by Bertone, the doors were a stand-out feature, swinging forward and then upward from low-mounted front hinges.

The chassis was a very complicated multi-tubular structure, in which the famous V12 unit was mounted lengthwise behind the cockpit. However, the five-speed transmission was ahead of the engine, protruding into the cockpit, and drive to the rear wheels was by a propeller shaft, through a tube in the engine sump, to the final drive.

As a consequence, the driving position was a long way forward, but the car's center of gravity was low, and there was a 43/57 percent front/rear weight distribution. There was even space for some luggage behind the engine itself, but we think this was more the result of good fortune rather than the designers actually considering such a requirement.

Power was originally 375bhp from the 3929cc engine, but emission legislation required the engine to be enlarged to 4754cc, offering no additional power but, on the up-side, slightly improved torque. A rear spoiler wing was optional, and top speed was at least 180mph (289.6 km/h).

It was not long after the release of the Countach that, in 1973, Ferruccio would sell all of his companies and go into retirement at his vineyard in Italy's Umbria province. He would go on to produce a red wine called Colli del Trasimento know as "Blood of the Miura" – obviously pointing to the car he most loved. He died on February 20, 1993 at the age of 77.
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