The Lamborghini Story

told through the cars they built


Ferruccio Lamborghini was not a racing man. True, he had modified an old Fiat and made a racing car out of it back in 1948 and had raced it in the Mille Miglia but he crashed it into the side of a restaurant. He escaped without any serious injuries but lost his enthusiasm for racing right away!

His designers however, many of whom had worked for companies like Ferrari, had racing in their blood and when he commissioned them to create a sports car, they set out and succeeded in creating a beautiful two-door coupe with a 4 litre V12 engine behind the two seats, capable of 170 mph. This was very brave of them since Ferruccio preferred the idea of building effortless grand tourers rather than the out and out racers that Ferrari were making.

Nevertheless the new car, labelled the Miura, was a successful project, and it stayed in production, albeit with numerous modifications, until 1973.

Why was it called 'Miura'? Ferruccio was a great fan of bullfighting; and Miura bulls were big, tough, and ferocious fighting animals. We have to remember that this was a different era when animal welfare didn't feature very highly in most people's priority list. However Lamborghini adopted the fighting bull as it's mascot and many of the later car models were named after bulls, bullfighters or the weapons used in bullfighting.

This was such a beautiful car that it was chosen for the opening credits of the popular film 'The Italian Job' where it was shown sweeping effortlessly at high speed round the curved mountain road. In actual fact it would have taken a very brave or extremely experienced driver to have done that. Placing the engine behind the seats without considering the weight layout of the car was not such a good idea; at high-speed early cars suffered from both front-end lift and oversteer.

They were not terribly comfortable either; the driving position was cramped and awkward, the clutch heavy and the gearchange was stiff. Perhaps Ferruccio had been right all along and had given his designers too much leeway, but these problems were ironed out in later models.

In all 764 Miuras were built before production ended in 1973, when sales dried up as a worldwide financial crisis bit.