Lamborghini: five models that made the legend of the car manufacturer

In 1948, in post-war Italy, Ferruccio Lamborghini was a successful tractor manufacturer. The mechanization of agriculture allowed this Bolognese engineer, born in 1916, to become, in less than ten years, the second largest tractor manufacturer in the country, behind Fiat. A failed racing driver, Lamborghini repaid his frustration by buying Ferraris… Except he thought they were less reliable than Alfa Romeos or Mercedes. In 1962, he complained to “Commendatore”: “Ferrari, your cars are rubbish!” Cynically, the latter replied: “Lamborghini, you can drive a tractor but you can’t drive a Ferrari well.”

Angry, Lamborghini just wanted revenge. He will find engine engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, at the origin of the V12 of the Ferrari 250 GTO. Eager to step out of Ferrari’s shadow, Bizzarrini accepts a mission: to design a V12 engine that is more powerful and less fragile than Ferrari’s. At the same time, Ferruccio Lamborghini called the designer Franco Scaglione, who had just left the famous coachbuilder Bertone.

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On October 30, 1963, Lamborghini unveiled its first car at the Turin Motor Show: the 350 GTV. This large coupé was announced at a price of 5.8 million lire at the time (equivalent to 73,000 euros in 2021). It cost twice as much as the Ferrari 250 GTO… But it remained in prototype form. The last version went on sale in 1964. Renamed the 350 GT, it kept the general line of the prototype. Its price was finally about 9 million lire (13,990 dollars in the United States). Lamborghini launched. About 120 copies will leave the factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese (district outside Bologna).

The brand developed rapidly and diversified its models: Miura, Espada, Jarama, Urraco… All have bullfighting as their common point, from which they took their name. Problem: productions remain confidential. If he makes a lot of money with his tractors, Ferruccio Lamborghini loses even more with his cars. He stayed but nevertheless ended up selling all his shares and retired, in 1974, to his villa in Perugia, where he would die in 1993.

In the same year, the brand launched the iconic Countach, which combines design and power. “Even today, these are the two arguments that lead a potential customer to sign an order form. This is what the driver of a Lamborghini is looking for above all else,” explains Federico Foschini, number 2 of the brand. After many financial adventures, the manufacturer with the bull became a subsidiary of Audi in 1998. And the reliability of the German mark is reflected in the Italian mark, while maintaining the exclusive and brutal character of the models. Audi allowed the rationalization of production… and its explosion. In ten years, Lamborghini sales increased by five!

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The manufacturer’s commercial strategy is simple: it relies on its SUV, the Urus (see below), as a volume model (it represents 60% of sales, with 15,000 copies sold since 2018), in the Huracan and Aventador as hyper-sporty coupes and roadsters and, at the top of the pyramid, in limited-edition hypercars. Latest model to date: the Countach LP 800. 120 copies of this revival of the most famous “Lambo” were sold in less than two months. And each of them is charged 2 million euros excluding taxes (they represent 450,000 euros for a French client!).

Lamborghini’s strength compared to Ferrari is confidentiality. The brand has never distinguished itself in the main motor competition (neither in F1 nor in Le Mans), but it attracts; no doubt because this is the car of superlatives. Its rates start where others leave off. And, unlike a French Bugatti (which also belongs to the VW group), the “Lambo” revels in its luxury. If a good part of the customers choose the black way Bruce Wayne in the Batmobile, others choose the bright colors and assume them.

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Surprisingly, unlike other luxury car brands, Lamborghini does not arouse any jealousy or hatred. On the contrary: in passing, people give thumbs up; at the stop they ask to take a selfie with it, as if it were a star. And this interest is reflected in social networks: Lamborghini has 30.8 million fans, against 25.7 million for Porsche and 20.8 million for Ferrari. If it is affluent in nature, the clients are historically young, 45 years old on average. Logic: you still almost have to be flexible, contortionist limits, to succeed in sneaking into this car at ground level with elytra doors.

France hosts five Lamborghini dealerships. It is as much as in Italy. But it is worth adding Monaco. “The situation is unique in the world. We have two dealerships within 50 kilometers that do not compete with each other. We sell 50 cars in Cannes every year and about 70 in the principality”, explained Federico Foschini. And, as with Dacia at the other end of the price spectrum, it’s not possible to count on it to get a slight discount.

The Lamborghini customer does not object about prices… On the contrary, he will look for tax optimization measures for his racing car. The simplest (and legal) solution: buy it with the equivalent of an SCI (real estate civil society) but for vehicles in Luxembourg. Since the ecological penalty exceeds 10,000 euros (40,000 euros in 2022), more than two-thirds of buyers of severely damaged vehicles use this method. Result: in addition to allowing the retention of points, the State of Luxembourg pocketed the VAT that should have remained in France.

Ironically, an “ultra-rich car” like the Huracan EVO pollutes less. An owner of such a model travels about 5,000 kilometers per year at the wheel of his racing car, meaning a total emission of 1.66 tons of CO2 per year. This is more or less the same as gasoline city cars that drive 15,000 kilometers per year.

If the maximum penalty reaches 50,000 euros in 2023, the wealthy customers of the Italian manufacturer should no longer be affected by the automotive tax exile from 2024. And Federico Foschini added: “On this date, half of our machines will will be electric. We will offer hybrid or 100% electric cars to reduce our carbon footprint. As a manufacturer, our strategy has always been to be ahead of our competitors. If Aston Martin and Ferrari launch Super-SUVs today, it’s good that we have an early start. We intend to keep it.”

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5 models that made the legend of the manufacturer

1. 350 GTV (1963)

The first Lamborghini in history, its V12 engine would be replaced and improved with each new model until the Diablo, which was discontinued in 2001.

2. Countach (1974-1990)

With its elytra doors open, it is Lamborghini’s iconic model and the first of the brand to exceed 300 kilometers per hour.

Automobili Lamborghini SpA/Audi Group

3.LM002 (1986-1993)

First luxury SUV in history, using the Countach’s 450 horsepower V12, its design makes it the Neanderthal of 4x4s.

Charlie Magee/Automobili Lamborghini SpA/Audi Group

4. Murcielago (2002-2010)

The first model of the Audi era used the principle of height-opening doors. Fifty copies out of more than 3,000 will be roadsters.

5. Sian (2019)

Revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the hypercar is limited to 63 copies (including 19 roadsters). This is the brand’s first hybrid.

Urus: not a green car

The Super-SUV Urus (from the Latin name referring to the primitive bull, the auroch) is the pet peeve of environmentalists: it weighs 2.2 tons empty, shows more than 5.10 meters in length, goes from 0 to 100 kilometers / hour in just 3.6 seconds and can reach 305 kilometers per hour thanks to the 650 horsepower twin-turbo V8.

DIEGO VIGARANI/Super-SUV Urus

Average price displayed: 250,000 euros, excluding taxes. “Unlike our coupés, this is a car that we use for every day. The Urus is often a second, or even a third Lamborghini for our customers”, declared Federico Foschini, number 2 of the brand.

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