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Lamborghini: a Living Legend

The whole mystique of Automobili Lamborghini is related to the man who had the inspiration, the skill and the determination to turn a dream into a reality.

Ferruccio Lamborghini was born in Renazzo, a little village near Bologna, on the 28th of April 1916. His parents were farmers but Ferruccio did not inherit from them the love of the land and, from the very early days of his life, he showed an interest in technology and mechanics. He completed his technical studies in Bologna and soon after was able to put his know-how to the test when during the Second World War he was put in charge of vehicle maintenance in Rhodes, Greece. It was probably due to his experience gained during the War that once he returned home, he started buying old military vehicles converting them into tractors, something that Italy desperately needed after the War. The success of this enterprise prompted him to buy a workshop in Cento where, from 1948 onward, Lamborghini tractors were produced. In 1959 the Lamborghini production was extended to burners and air conditioning units.

Having thus obtained a solid financial background Ferruccio Lamborghini launched himself into yet another new enterprise: the production of helicopters, one of his life-long passions, but he was stopped by the Government's refusal to grant him a license. He then decided to turn his attention to cars and in doing so his life took a decisive turn and the car world was never the same again.

He opened a car factory in Sant'Agata in 1963, which started delivering cars in 1964: in doing so, the legend was started. Year after year this factory has produced cars that have been the ideal of beauty and perfection expressing better then anything else Ferruccio Lamborghini's desire for nothing but the very best.

From 1963 to 1972 the Company grew at a steady rate, the only limiting factor was the launch of new cars which slowed down production capacity.

The year 1972 however, was marked by the worst crisis ever known by Lamborghini, coupled with the oil embargo and the general world recession which resulted in a dramatic reduction in sales, Ferruccio was forced to sell 51% of the company to a Swiss businessman, Georges-Henri Rossetti. Then in 1974 he sold the remaining 49% shares to a friend of Rossetti, René Leimer. The new Shareholders did not have day to day involvement in the company and were reluctant to invest, and for this reason the company found itself in difficulty with suppliers who were concerned over late payment of invoices.

1977 was probably the worst year for Lamborghini due to strategic mistakes on the part of the owners, which brought Lamborghini to over invest in an off-road vehicle without the prospect of sales and the underevaluation of a signed agreement with BMW for the production of a small series of sporting cars, an agreement which was annulled by the German company in 1978.

The situation was so serious that the Bologna courts were forced to bring the Company to the sad stage of receivership. Fortunately the company was entrusted to Alessandro Artese, a Bolognese expert in Commercial Law who was also a car enthusiast. Together with Sgarzi, sales manager, and the help of Giulio Alfieri, technical director, they managed to pull the company through a very difficult time, whilst searching for new shareholders.

The Company never closed down, thanks to the determination of its employees, the passion and loyalty of its clients and the support of its distributors. This situation lasted until July 1980 when the Bologna Court decided to sell the Company to the Mimran Brothers, well known tycoons in the food industry. The new owners, whose passion for cars was well known, started rebuilding the company investing in the plant, in new products and the search for a skilled workforce.

Decisive improvements were achieved from 1984 to 1986: the Company took off again and new foundations were set for a decisive growth, whilst the symbol of the Company, a charging bull, became well established and known on the market.

The growth rate was so fast and so demanding upon capital expenditure that it made it almost impossible for private individuals to support it properly. The need for a professional and strong partner became obvious and Chrysler seemed to be an ideal choice.

Chrysler, fortunately, found Lamborghini extremely attractive, thanks to its motivated management, its new products, the quality of manpower and the fascination of the marque: Chrysler asked the Mimran family for total share capital and an agreement was reached between them and signed in Sant'Agata on the 23rd of April 1987 by Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Mimram in the presence of all the Lamborghini workforce.

The reshaping of the Company started with the nomination of Mr. Emile Novaro as President of Lamborghini. Funds were injected in the Company's workshop to increase production. On 7th of May 1990 after 19 years of work and 1997 cars produced, the Countach model went out of production giving way to the new Diablo model.

The production and sale of the Diablo reached its peak in 1991 and the Balance Sheet for that year showed a profit.

But the crisis of the world market was approaching. The ensuing years were very hard for automobile manufacturers and were a disaster for the world economy. The recession became dramatic and the dreamcar market in 1992 registered a significant drop in sales.

One would have to wait until 1993 to see a difficult and slow recovery of the world economy. 1994 seems to be the year of the economic shakedown although the experts say that 1990/1991 sales peaks will never again be achieved.

The crisis motivated the company's reorganisation and promoted the production diversification through new experimental projects, such as an electric vehicle for urban transportation, third-party mechanical machining, marine engine development and production.

In March 1993 the Diablo VT was introduced to the press and the public. This VT version is a Diablo fitted with a viscous coupling that turns the traction of the vehicle into a four-wheel drive mode when required.

In September of the same year Automobili Lamborghini presented the Diablo Special Edition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the company's foundation.

In January 1994 Chysler Corporation agreed to sell Automobili Lamborghini to MegaTech, a company which is part of the Indonesian Group Sedtco.

In 1994 Lamborghini won, for the first time, the Class 1 World Off-shore championship, setting a leadership that continues on today.

In 1995 the shareholders became V'Power (60%), Indonesian company controlled by Tommy Suharto, and MyCom (40%), Malaysian company controlled by Jeff Yap.

On the 24 of July 1998 an agreement between the shareholders of Lamborghini and Audi was signed in London for the complete take-over of the Company. Finally the House of the Bull has a strong owner, widely respected in the automotive world for his technical competence and commercial success, that will open new perspective of success to the supercars built in Sant'Agata.

In September 1998 Rodolfo Rocchio, an Italian engineer with many years experience within the Audi group, was appointed co-CEO of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.

In January 1999 the company was restructured.

Today Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A. with its President Franz-Josef Paefgen, has full control of three separate companies :
     Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. - cars
     Motori Marini Lamborghini S.p.A. - marine engines
     Lamborghini Artimarca S.p.A. - licensing and merchandising

This strategy was implemented in order to guarantee the dedicated focus of each company in their respective fields.

Giuseppe Greco, a manager with a wide experience in the automotive field with Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, has been appointed President of Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. and co-CEO of Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A.

In January 2000 the Diablo 6.0, the first Lamborghini with a V12 6 litre engine and carbonfibre body was presented to the press and to the public.

In January 2000 the face-lift of the Lamborghini Head Quarters started. It was scheduled to be completed by the Summer 2001.

On 8 September of the same year, in fact, the new Lamborghini premises, comprising a new office block, an elegant show-room and a beautiful two-storey museum, on Via Modena, were inaugurated.

On the same occasion, the replacement of the Diablo was unveiled: the Lamborghini Murciélago, a beast capable of delivering 580 HP, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and a maximum speed of 330 km/h

The "new era"of Lamborghini has initiated.



 
 
THE REALISATION OF A DREAM

Perhaps the best way to appreciate the story of Automobili Lamborghini is to go back in time and follow its development. The history of these cars demonstrates how his dream became a reality.
 
1963
The factory Automobili Lamborghini opens in Sant'Agata Bolognese. The first Lamborghini prototype, called the 350 GTV debuts at the Turin Motor Show in October.
 
1964
The 350 GT, a refinement of the original prototype, debuts at the Geneva Motor Show as a statement of Lamborghini's intent to be a true player in the sports car market. The vehicle features a four-cam V12 a fully synchronised five speed transmission, limited slip differential, four wheel independent suspension and four wheel disc brakes. An enthusiastic public reaction prompts production to begin.
 
1966
Characterised by its 3.9 Litre engine, the 400 GT is produced as a derivative of the 350 GT. Simultaneously Lamborghini begins building its own transmissions and final-drive unit and combines this feature with the 3.9 Litre engine, revised bodywork and +2 seating to produce the 400 GT 2+2 model.

A production prototype designed by Marcello Gandini, the Miura P400, featuring a cleverly compact 3929 cc transverse V12 power train makes its second debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The car causes a stir, as its bare chassis had in Turin during the previous autumn and further establishes the reputation of Lamborghini.
 
1968
Launched at the Geneva Motor Show the Islero 400 GT features an aluminium, quad cam V12 engine; all wheel independent suspension and disc brakes; comprehensive cockpit fittings and luxury interiors. Described as a businessman's car, the Islero, although shorter, is roomier than the 400 GT 2+2, and has plenty of glass area.

Described as a truly sexy new four seater, the Espada combines looks, performance and handling of a top-line sports car with comfortable and luxurious accommodation for four. Built of solid steel "unibody" construction, the Espada became one of the most admired and successful Lamborghinis.
 
1969
Criticism of the Islero 400 GT design inspired an improved model in the late summer of 1969, tagged Islero S or GTS. Modifications included a reworked interior, several suspension improvements and a much more potent engine. "Mailbox slot" hot air exhaust vents behind each front wheel, a slight flare to all wheel arches and fixed triangular panes on the front portion of each door window were all additional features on the GTS model.
 
1970
The Miura P400S, an upgraded version of the P400, features heavier gauge sheet steel chassis construction, rear suspension modifications, ventilated disc brakes, and reshaped combustion chambers, higher lift cams and bigger carburettors, all contributing to a stronger engine. Additional features include leather-trim steering wheel, and options for radio and air conditioning.

The functional successor to the 400 2+2, the Jarama 400 GT, is built on an all new "unibody" floor plan derived from the Espada. Its V12 engine is placed between the front wheels and the bodywork is made of steel. The car proved to be surprisingly nimble and fast. Sensible and deliberately unspectacular, the Jarama is described as more bold than beautiful.
 
1971
A second revision to the original Miura P400 prototype of 1966, the P400 SV features a completely redesigned front and rear suspension, with updated tyres and rims that dictate bulging rear fenders. The new improved model offers more muscle and features a leather interior trim replacing the vinyl.

Marcello Gandini, assisted by Paolo Stanzani's engineering expertise, designed all new competition inspired sports car prototype, the Countach LP500, which debuted at the Geneva Motor Show. The car featured high speed dynamics, high cornering limits, a handmade aluminium body and a dramatic "wedge" body profile.
 
1972
Having the body design executed by Bertone in an attempt to produce a "special" look, Lamborghini unveiled the Urraco P250 at the Turin Motor Show. It was described as having a genuine beauty and a rare blend of balance, delicacy, grace, innovation and passion that seemed ageless.

The revised Jarama is referred to as the Jarama 400GTS. The car is distinguished by its hood scoop, side fender vents, parallel parking wipers and five bolt wheels. It had more horsepower and there were significant interior improvements, including better seating, instrumentation and workmanship. It was the last front engined Lamborghini sports car. The first Countach LP400 prototype appeared at the Geneva Motor Show.
 
1973
The second Countach LP400 prototype was shown at the Paris Motor Show.
 
1974
The Countach LP400 production vehicle debuted at the Geneva Motor Show. The second Gandini design for Lamborghini, it stole the show and gave the company a new light. The car featured a 3.9 Litre V12 engine, tubular chassis, semi roll down side windows and bolder higher bumpers.
 
1975
A replacement for the P250, the Urraco 300 was introduced and featured many improvements and detailed changes to transmission, suspension and bodywork
 
1976
The Silhouette, a new vehicle based on the Urraco, is introduced at the Geneva Motor Show. It received favourable reviews due to its aggressive good looks, stunning performance and a practical day-to-day driving ability.
 
1977
In an attempt to build a series of fast off-road vehicles for the Mobility Technology International Company, Lamborghini produced the Cheetah, an entry into the military market. Receiving less interest from the army than the public, the vehicle is adapted for the civilian market.
 
1978
Created largely due to interest expressed by the Lamborghini fan Walter Wolf, the Countach LP400S uses much wider low profile, high tech tyres requiring alterations in the suspension geometry of the car and fibreglass fender flares.
 
1981
As a follow up to the Cheetah, the LM001 went into production and was available with a rear mounted 4.7 Litre Countach V12 or a Chrysler 360 cc V8.
 
1982
The Countach LP500S featured a new 5 litre engine, produced 375 bhp and 302 Ib.ft. torque, and is designed to meet tightening emission standards.

The new Jalpa was introduced and went into production. It featured a new transverse-mounted midship V8 engine and 5 speed transmission. It was a two seater design with a modular instrument panel, excellent ergonomics and an updated equipment package, including a new ventilation system.

The LMA prototype is produced from the previous LM001 design. The newest model featured front engine placement, revision to the suspension, chassis and power steering. It was able to carry extra people where the engine had been in the Cheetah and LM001. It was redesignated LM002 in anticipation of a production series.
 
1985
Featuring a "Quattrovalvole" four valves per cylinder engine, the Countach received its third major revision and was rechristened LP500S QV. Other alterations from previous models included revisions to suspension and brakes. With these changes the Countach became larger and heavier, but performance continued to improve.
 
1988
Lamborghini celebrated its 25th anniversary as a manufacturer of exotic sports cars and introduced the last Countach, the 25th Anniversary Edition.
 
1990
Lamborghini produced the Diablo, the fastest production car in the world, reaching a top speed of 202 mph.
 
1992
The open top version of the Diablo, the Roadster is presented at the Geneva Motor Show.

The LM002 went out of production.
 
1993
This is "the year of the V.T." In March 1993 the Diablo VT, 4WD, was introduced to the press and the public during the Geneva motor show.

In September, during the Lamborghini Day 3, the Diablo Special Edition was introduced to the public at the factory in Sant'Agata Bolognese. The production was limited to 150 units built during 1994-95.
 
1994
In April Lamborghini presents a new gearbox for the racing marine engine. The Off Shore season starts off enthusiastically for the engineers who had projected the change and power of the engine (almost 950 H.P.)

November: the 1994 Off-Shore season ends with the last two races in Dubai. Lamborghini is world Champion in Class 1.
 
1995
A magnificent special cherry red Diablo Roadster VT with a fucsia pink interior is presented at the Bologna Motor Show. Production of the Roadster took off immediately.
 
1996
At the Geneva Motor Show the Diablo SV (Sport Veloce) is presented, a simplified and more sporty version of the Diablo, inspired by the legendary Miura SV. With an engine power of 525 bhp, reduced weight and a shorter final drive ratio the car reaches 100 km/h in less than 4 seconds.

The Diablo SVR is also presented, to compete in the Lamborghini monomarque championship. The championship successfully takes off and 26 Diablo SVR's line up on the main European circuits.

The Class 1 World Off-Shore Championship sees once again the victory of the Lamborghini marine engine.
 
1997
The Lamborghini Monomarque Championship successfully continues with the participation of about 30 Diablo SVRs and it ends with the last race in Zhuhai, China.

Also for this year the Lamborghini marine engine has been judged as the World Class 1 Offshore Champion.
 
1998
The Model Year '99 Diablo is presented at the Paris Motor Show with a major engine improvement which delivers, with its 12 V cylinders, new variable intake valve timing and the new electronics a power of 530 bhp (390 kW) in all models. The brakes have been improved with much wider discs and an advanced ABS system developed by the Lamborghini R&D centre. The dashboard has been completely redesigned and the new headlamps give a fresher look to the front of the Diablo.

The Lamborghini Monomarque Championship successfully continues with the participation of 30 Diablo SVRs and it started with a race in Melbourne, Australia.

The Lamborghini marine engines are still heading the World Class 1 Offshore Championship after 5 races. Five boats equipped with Lamborghini engines and gearboxes are leading the group of 11 participants.
 
1999
The Diablo GT, a high performance version of the current Diablo with numerous body parts in carbon fibre, a 6 Litre engine, a more sporty chassis and suspensions, debuted at the Geneva Motor Show.

This model will be produced in a limited edition of only 80 units.

The 1999 Lamborghini Supertrophy Championship opened the season on the Monza race track with 26 Diablo SVR.

Lamborghini's Marine Engine won many races in the "1999 Class 1 World Offshore Championship" by powering 5 out of 9 boats participating in the events.

At the Bologna Motor Show at the beginning of December, the Diablo GTR was presented. This model is derived from the Diablo GT and is intended for racing purpose only.

The 6 Litre V12 engine gives an output of 590 bhp (575 in the GT) and is equipped with a safety cage, rubber racing type fuel tank, automatic fire extinguisher and all the necessary devices needed for race track competition.
 
2000
At the Detroit Motor Show, at the beginning of January, the Diablo 6.0 was presented. It is the Diablo for the year 2000 adopting the 6 Litre V12 engine (5.7 Litre V12 in the MY '99 version).

The power increases to 550 bhp (530 in MY '99) and the body is mainly made of carbon fibre.

The front and rear tracks are wider and the cockpit has been completely redesigned with extensive use of aluminium and carbon fibre.

In May 2000 the Lamborghini Supertrophy will start. The Championship will line up more than 20 new Lamborghini Diablo GTRs replacing the Diablo SVRs of the previous years.

In June 2000 the Class 1 Offshore Championship is going to start and most of the boats will be equipped with Lamborghini engines.
 
2001
In September the new Lamborghini Head Quarters were inaugurated and the new Murciélago was unveiled. It was officially launched at the International Frankfurt Motorshow.

At the end of October, on the occasion of the Tokyo Motorshow, it was announced that Automobili Lamborghini Japan - the Japanese subsidiary - was now officially in operation.

 

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