Petrolheads across the globe are aware about the rivalry between Ferrari and Lamborghini, but few know about its history. Ferruccio Lamborghini, the founder of the company was born in a family of grape farmers in 1916. Instead of farming, he got attracted towards mechanics and joined the Italian air force as a mechanic during World War II. After the war, he gradually started a successful tractor business. He bought of the damaged Allied (mainly American) tanks, and disassembled them. The parts were used to make high quality tractors.’ The business flourished and by the 1960s Lamborghini diversified into air conditioners and room heaters.
Lamborghini had a passion for cars, he bought two Ferraris in the late 1950s. Lamborghini frequently visited the Ferrari factory to replace the burnt clutch of his Ferrari cars. After a few visits, Lamborghini grew frustrated and decided to replace the burnt at his own tractor factory. The head mechanic at Lamborghini factory noticed that the clutch used in the car was similar to one fitted in small Lamborghini tractors. It was a commercial spare used by popular companies like Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche et. al. in their sportscars. The fun fact was while, Lamborghini charged 10 lire (Italian currency before the introduction of Euro) for the spare clutch, he paid the Ferrari factory 1000 lire for the same.
Ferruccio Lamborghini met with Enzo Ferrari to complain about the same. It culminated in a heated discussion between them. When Lamborghini complained to Ferrari about the car, Ferrari retorted and insulted Lamborghini by calling him ‘a tractor driver, a farmer’; who was incapable of driving ‘the best cars in the world (i.e. Ferraris).’ This not only infuriated Ferrucio, but was a direct attack at his self-esteem.
Lamborghini took up the challenge and established the Automobili Lamborghini in 1963 at Sant’Agata Bolognese, northern Italy. He hired ex-employees from Ferrari such as Giotto Bizzarrini, Giampaolo Dallara, Franco Scaglione and Giampaolo Stanzani. Bizzarrini designed the V12 engine for the first ever Lamborghini car to roll out from the factory – the two-seater Lamborghini 350GTV (later shortened to GT). The 350GT was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in 1963. Lamborghini soon took the world by storm due to its cutting-edge design and faster acceleration when compared to other sportscars. Thus, began the journey of one of the best supercar manufacturers in the world – Lamborghini; and its rivalry with fellow firm Ferrari.
In the 1990s, Lamborghini was acquired by German automobile maker Volkswagen.
Ferruccio Lamborghini used his zodiac sign as the logo of his car company. The raging bull of Lamborghini is the Taurus. Initially, many Lamborghini cars were named after bulls or traditions associated with bull fighting – Muira (named after famous bullfighting breeder Don Eduardo Miura), Islero (dedicated to a bull which accidentally killed a matador, Manolete) and Espada (sword of a matador/bullfighter).
Enzo Ferrari (left) and Ferruccio Lamborghini (Right)