Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to create super sports cars to compete with Ferrari, which already had a 16 year head-start—an almost impossible challenge. He was 47 years old at the time, and already a famous Italian entrepreneur. People thought he was crazy to risk his fortune to build specialty cars that were clearly an unjustifiable extravagance. But the strong-willed businessman was already a proven success. He reasoned that if he could amass a fortune making tractors, why not sports cars? In November of 1963, he unveiled his first masterpiece—the 350GT. The rest is automotive history.
Personally, we have little interest in fast or fancy cars, but we do have a fascination with expressive Italians motivated by passione—the spark that engages the heart and soul of a person to go beyond the ordinary. We’re intrigued by how their dreams change the world. For us, that’s an engaging idea worth pursuing! So we decided to go directly to the Lamborghini factory and museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese, a couple hours north of Florence, to see for ourselves what the Lamborghini story is all about.
What was Ferruccio’s secret? Well, it really wasn’t a secret at all. He was determined to become the symbol of “excess” around the world and everyone knew it. How? By simply going further than anyone else—at all costs. His refusal to “settle” earned him respect and recognition. He insisted on doing more and better than any other competitor. He truly operated “outside the box,” creating his own unique product. For Ferruccio, excess equaled success. The company’s logo—the aggressive “fighting bull,” came to life over and over again, as names of different breeds of ferocious bulls were used to name the cars, like: Urraco, Marzal, Miura, Islero and Diablo.
Ferrucio was so intense and insistent on how things were to be done that he developed a hands-on style, where one might find him on the factory floor, rolling his sleeves up to make a few of his own adjustments. However, as the new realities of labor unions began to challenge his autonomy, he was finally forced to compromise. That style just didn’t work for Ferruccio. In 1972, he began selling his shares of the company, and by the following year, the founder behind the creative “excess” was finished. In fewer than 10 years, the fire that had ignited his passionate dream simply flickered out. However, the legacy of his innovation continues to echo around the world.
The company carried on without Ferruccio’s leadership, and despite many fits and starts over the years, still thrives to this day. Fifty years after its inception, Lamborghini has once again been reinvigorated with a strong vision for the future. After Ferruccio, they went on to create amazing innovations like the famous Countach, which was in production for 16 years with its dramatic wedge shape design and fascinating “scissor” doors. The seeds of innovation, as well as demand for the highest quality, were clearly passed on to those who worked closely with Ferruccio in the early days.
His followers learned from the master. Even his desire to think outside the box is evident in the strange name Countach. Lamborghini designers decided not to let the past constrain them, and so for the first time, deviated from the long list of bull names for their latest masterpiece. They seized the immediate expression of the famous designer Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone, upon seeing the prototype of his new creation for the first time. He exclaimed a single crude northern Italian word, “countach,” which roughly translates to “wow” in the local dialect (some translate as “holy shit”). In any case, his expression was a couple notches above “incredibile!” Ferruccio would be proud of how his legend has continued. He fathered passionate innovation at its very best for the entire world to see—long live Lamborghini!