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          A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

History Lamborghini GT - Development

Lamborghini 350 GT Prototyp 1963 - click to enlarge!

Someone called Ferruccio Lamborghini had discovered Ferrari as his favourite toy, but he is very disappointed because the clutch slips at high acceleration. He gets the feeling of being stringed along instead of having the problem solved. He accepts a long waiting period before he finally meets Enzo Ferrari himself. The only answer Lamborghini receives to his complaint is that after all he was better in handling tractors than sports car. After this conversation Ferrari will never again in his whole life give him a second look!

Many people would be disappointed as well in view of the price of Ferrari vehicles, but who would have the idea to build his own supersports car as a result? Easier said than done! A high amount of requirements needs to be met for such a step, money has to be raised and a more or less functioning workshop must be on hand as a basis. An insight of the market situation requires some experience in sports cars of the desired category and is highly essential.

Lamborghini does not start with new constructions right away but first improves existing Ferraris by means of a modified clutch, followed by modernisation of the cylinder head. For the conversion of one camshaft with rocker arms into two with cup tappets a new cylinder head needs to be constructed and built. Before really dealing with such an ambitious task one should already have made some trial runs. Lamborghini at least has some experience with an even more radical rebuilt of former Fiat 500 from bottom- to top control. The result of such modifications is tested in race competituions amongst company drivers.

If you believe only money and a certain experience would be sufficient, then you are wrong. Next is to find, rate and win suitable personnel for the project. By the way, some luck also helps! For example, not long ago some Ferrari technicians had an argument with their boss. They were dismissed, allegedly by wish of Mrs. Ferrari. No matter what, this is the chance for Ferruccio Lamborghini since you don`t find constructors of 12 cylinder engines around every corner!

In view of today's development times for new engines, the one for the 350 GT is produced in record time. The client`s expectations regarding performance are even exceeded. However, a bosses decision is required again: performance or torque? Lamborghini is not as blinded as to compete against Ferrari on the race track. There the reputation of the latter is unbeaten. So the vehicle is conceived for the wealthy clientele, powerful already at lower RPM. However, this is not the intention of Giotto Bizzarrini, the designer. Two others finish work at the engine.

Of course there`s more in a car than the engine. Good contact to so many suppliers must be kept. While Lamborghini produced nearly 80 % of his tractor parts on his own, now a lot of parts must be bought elsewhwere, sure enough the pistons and the camshafts. The connection to the Italian carburetor manufacturer Weber is easier than to the german ZF company which contributes the gearbox, or to the english Salisbury company for the final drive. All those parts must be attuned to each other. Dallara (24) and Stanzani (26) deal all hands fully and casually, as destinguished from Ferrari, a modern chassis with single wheel suspension develops. In this respect Bob Wallace (25) must be mentioned also as an engineer and test driver.

In Sant' Agata Bolognese factory buildings are erected and the company 'Automobili Lamborghini' is founded. The new car producer engages a designer, supposedly because he likes his first appearance in female company. This does not apply however to the designer`s first project, a slightly squiggly prototype with pop-up headlights and needless far- back rear window. It really does not appeal to customers! By the way, at it`s first presentation in November in Turin this prototype is shown without engine, bonnet not to be opened and supposedly with tiles added as weight. Only many years later this car body is made roadworthy by enthusiasts with considerable effort.

At least, the car body company Touring looks after some of the worries. They change the draught, also in view of production. It is absolutely usual with the big flashy cars to let a car body builder cover the ready frame including chassis and drive individually for each car. Nevertheless, in 1964 only 12 (?) vehicles are produced in spite of Lamborghini´s intention to present a new car every year. At least, in 1965 the engine becomes more powerful. Production figures clearly rise again to three to four vehicles per week. The advantage of such a small model series is that one can allow to constantly implement improvements. This sometimes makes each car a unique piece.

Regardless of the point of view, only the Miura brings the desired success. In the first time even VIP customers have to wait for delivery of that car for up to one year. Those who thereby miss the first series are the lucky ones because afterwards really important changes are implemented, e.g., a definite frame stabilisation. Later, Ferrucio`s successors will be accused of having stopped production of this vehicle too early. Allegedly it could have become the first Lamborghini with 4- figure production number, on the other hand, demand for this car drops rapidly after only 3 turbulent years.

Now, has Ferruccio Lamborghini achieved his aim? At least, he went ahead of his permanent opponent Ferrari by the fastest mass production sports car of the world, but the price seems to have been high. When he gives up the company in 1973/74 because of strike and the general sales crisis, so many debts have piled up that he gets out of these problems relatively unharmed only with the help of Fiat boss Agnelli. 01/08               Top of page               Index
2001-2014 Copyright programs, texts, animations, pictures: H. Huppertz - Email
Translator: Don Leslie - Email:

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