Lamborghinis have been purchased by farmers for decades. No, it's not because they want to drive around the barnyard in flashy sports cars. Ferruccio Lamborghini, the man who founded his namesake company, used to own a tractor company. Lamborghini Trattori S.p.A. was founded in Cento, Italy in 1948.
Despite its fame as a luxury car entrepreneur, Lamborghini took fifteen years to begin producing sports cars. Lamborghini's rise to prominence in the Italian automotive industry is a success story colored by his feud with Ferrari, which thrust both companies into the spotlight as their bitter rivalry grew in scale.
Ferruccio Lamborghini's Origins
Surprisingly, the famous designer of high-end sports cars lived through both World Wars.
Ferruccio Lamborghini was born in 1916, during World War I. His parents were viticulturists who grew grapes for wine on their farm. Family business was important in Lamborghini's life because he grew up surrounded by farming and, more importantly, agricultural machinery. He developed a strong enthusiasm for mechanics, which led him to the Fratelli Taddia technical institute near Bologna. Ferruccio worked as an apprentice at a workshop during his studies.
Things might have turned out differently if World War II had not occurred. Lamborghini was drafted as a mechanic into the Italian Royal Air Force. After nearly four years of fighting, the Italians decided that they no longer wanted to fight. Germany was not pleased with this decision, and Italy's military occupation began soon after. When the British finally took control of Rhodes Island the following year, Lamborghini was apprehended and assigned to work on automobiles. When he returned to Italy in 1946, his fortunes began to change quickly.
Lamborghini began by manufacturing and selling tractors. However, other businesses soon followed, including the design and manufacture of air conditioning and heating systems. Lamborghini eventually became wealthy and purchased expensive cars after achieving success. He drove a Ferrari for the first time during this period. Lamborghini was known as a great mechanic, but he was also known as a "bad driver."
Lamborghini owned a 250 GT Ferrari and complained to Enzo Ferrari in person when he noticed the vehicle had numerous technical issues. This sparked the feud between the two exotic carmakers and was the driving force behind Lamborghini's bold decision to launch his own auto company.
Lamborghini Booms in the Car Market
Lamborghini's first tractor, the Carioca, was built in 1948. He decided to build and sell tractors for a low price, and while his tractors were small, they were powerful and well-built. He was able to sell his tractors at a reasonable price because the mechanical parts were both affordable and readily available.
Because of this low cost of access to parts, Lamborghini tractors stood out in the market. Lamborghini also took advantage of the fact that tractors were very modular at the time. In a nutshell, this means that most of their parts were interchangeable, allowing farmers to save money. Lamborghini Trattori had built its facility and hired more than 30 people by 1951.
Soon after, the company was granted a license to manufacture diesel engines in Italy, and by the 1960s, the company employed approximately 400 people. At this point, the production rate increased, and Lamborghini was soon able to produce up to 25 tractors per day.
As previously stated, the company was doing well, and Lamborghini became a wealthy industrialist. As a result, he could finally afford a luxury car such as a Jaguar, Maserati, or, of course, the best from Italy - Ferrari.
Ferruccio kept burning the clutch on his Ferrari 250 GT, according to Valentino Balboni, Lamborghini's longtime test driver, which eventually led to the big feud between him and Enzo Ferrari.
Ferruccio eventually disassembled the Ferrari engine and transmission after replacing the clutch several times, only to discover that the clutch they used was a commercial component. This enraged Ferruccio, who thought it was a bad business practice given the high cost of Ferraris. Following a conversation between the two, Ferrari stated that the issue was not with the clutch, but with the driver. Lamborghini, enraged, vowed to build the best sports car in Italy.
The beginning of Automobili Lamborghini
Lamborghini dedicated himself and his company to creating Italy's top sports car, fueled by his feud with Ferrari. He already had a car manufacturing plant, which aided his new venture's rapid growth. His cars were named after bulls due to his fascination with bullfighting. According to reports, Lamborghini simply wanted to build a well-built dream car and never advertised his vehicles. However, as word spread about his vehicles' style and performance, the world reacted so positively to Lamborghini sports cars that the brand quickly became iconic.
After Lamborghini Trattori began to struggle, Ferruccio sold the company, and it changed hands several times before being purchased by Volkswagen in the late 1990s.
The Murcielago and Gallardo are two of the most famous Lamborghinis to have come from the German automaker's stable. To be sure, the company still manufactures tractors today. Lamborghini Trattori is now owned by Same Deutz-Fahr, but the Lamborghini logo remains on their tractors.
In retrospect, the transformation of a tractor company into a supercar phenomenon is a story of vision, courage, and determination. Despite being 46 years old when Lamborghini Automobili was founded, Ferruccio Lamborghini ensured that his life's work would not be forgotten, and his legacy is firmly established in the automobile industry.