If you had posters and pictures hanging on your bedroom wall or inside your locker at school when you were a kid, chances are there was at least one of an exotic car. Such vehicles have always captivated us, forced us to stare at the exaggerated body lines for far too long or imagine ourselves sitting behind the wheel while we accelerate down the road with the roar of a 10 or 12 cylinder engine filling the air. For many of us, the super car is the ultimate expression of wealth, power, beauty and art which can turn even the most mature adult back into that daydreaming 10-year-old.
Of course, like anything, everybody has their very own specific tastes when it comes to the world of exotic cars. Perhaps a company’s history and race pedigree is what attracts you to a particular brand. Maybe you like a certain car or manufacturer because their engines sound the best or their designs speak to you the most. Whatever the rationale behind which super cars you like the most, they keep most of us dreaming and, when we come face to face with our dream cars, drooling.
When it comes to the world of super car manufacturers one of the true giants and go-to companies is surely Lamborghini. Founded in 1963, the Italian company isn’t the oldest exotic car maker but they have definitely left their mark on the field with some memorable designs and iconic cars. After all, how many kids growing up through the 1970s and 1980s had a Countach poster on their walls and knew that it was one of the hardest cars on earth to drive in reverse, let alone fit into. Ahead you’ll find some other facts and trivia about this historic Italian car maker. Those of you really into cars may know many of these but most people will be a little surprised by some of these little known Lamborghini facts.
15. An Agricultural Start
Many car experts know offhand that Lamborghini was not initially a car company. Yes, in fact, Lamborghini first started out building tractors which can still be purchased to this day. The company’s founder, Ferruccio Lamborghini was a very skilled mechanic who originally worked for the Italian military during the Second World War. When the war ended and Ferruccio went home, he started building and maintaining tractors using all of the military surplus sitting around. Blessed with mechanical know-how and a growing fortune, Lamborghini eventually made the move into the automotive market in the early 1960s – with a little help from another famous Italian car maker.
14. We Have Ferrari to Thank
To be blunt, Enzo Ferrari could come across as a bit of an ass at times. It was this characteristic of the famed Italian car maker that actually drove Lamborghini straight into car development in the early 1960s. One of his biggest gripes Lamborghini had with Ferrari was the poor clutch assembly used. When he went to Enzo to discuss the matter things turned sour quickly. We imagine it didn’t go over well when Enzo was basically told his cars had rubbish parts. In a nutshell, Ferrari allegedly told Lamborghini to stick with making tractors and leave the car industry alone. Lamborghini took this as a challenge and the rest is history.
13. …And Pagani Has Lamborghini to Thank
If it wasn’t for Lamborghini and carbon fiber, we wouldn’t have the ultra-exotic automaker Pagani. In the 1980s, Horacio Pagani was an engineer at Lamborghini who was always looking ahead for the next big design breakthrough. He had been looking into carbon fiber as a building material and even mentioned it to the bosses at Lamborghini – all to no avail. He then produced a carbon fiber and aluminium Countach which weighed over 1000lbs less than a standard Countach. The brass were still not sold. In 1987, Ferrari unveiled the F40, a supercar which utilized carbon fiber. That was the final straw for Pagani, who decided that if he was to pursue his dream of building ultra-light-weight cars he would have to leave and start his own car company.
12. Bull Fighting Tradition
Super car aficionados know that any car company needs a catching and memorable logo. Ferrari has its prancing horse, Maserati has its trident and Lamborghini has its iconic raging bull. In fact, everything about this company seems linked to bulls in one way or another. Just look at the names of all the different Lamborghinis. Each one has a name of a famous bull or is related to bull fighting. Why? Firstly, Ferruccio Lamborghini, the company’s founder, was born under the astrological sign of Taurus – a bull. In addition, there is also a story that in 1962, Lamborghini travelled to a ranch in Sevilla, Spain and was so impressed with fighting bulls being bred there that he opted to take inspiration from the horned beasts. Since then, many of the cars have taken names from bulls bred or linked to that particular ranch.
11. One Name That Doesn’t Fit
Sure, Lamborghini was impressed by his trip to the Spanish ranch so much that it forever influenced the company’s naming practices – but not all of them. If you cycle through the list of names given to the various Lamborghinis over the years you’ll come across one car that doesn’t seem to fit in. The Countach was built between 1974 and 1990 and remains one of the most iconic super cars to come out of Italy. That said, Countach is not associated in any way with bulls and, therefore, stands out in the Lamborghini lineup. The generally accepted story is that the name came about when one of the lead designers first saw the car and exclaimed “countach” – a local Italian word with no direct translation but signifying a high degree of amazement.
10. The First Lambo
In 1963, Ferruccio Lamborghini took his first big step in car production by unveiling the 350GTV prototype at the Turin Auto Show. Not only was this car far from being complete but it’s a miracle it was even partially ready for the unveiling. To start, the tools and machinery needed to make the car weren’t available at the time so Lamborghini had to finish it in his tractor factory. Then, when building the car, workers found that the engine didn’t fit. Lamborghini’s solution was to forego the engine installation and fill the engine bay with bricks to add weight. The car was also missing other features like brakes and pedals but it was successful enough to spawn the 350GT, Lamborghini’s first production car.
9. Decades of Uncertainty
The auto industry can be very cruel and more than one manufacturer over the years has either gone under or been bought by a competitor when the money runs out. Even the iconic Lamborghini discovered this in the 1970s. In an era marked by an oil crisis, any company depending on cars running large, powerful engines felt the pinch. Ferruccio Lamborghini ended up selling his company to two Swiss owners. With the founder no longer having anything to do with the company, would it survive? The following decades saw bankruptcy, an economic crisis and several ownership changes as Lamborghini tried to keep its head above water. In the end, Audi swooped in to buy the company which now finds itself owned within the powerful Volkswagen Group.
8. A Legendary V12 Engine
If you’re into cars and have one particular brand, odds are that specific company produced at least one fantastic and legendary engine to which all others are measured. Lamborghini was no different. In 1963, the company started developing a V12 engine that would form the basis of a powerplant used for the next 45 years. Powering the 350GT in 1963, Lamborghini’s V12 started out with a displacement of 3.5L and output of 270hp. Over the following decades, this engine was bored and tuned to produce ever increasing power from a continually increasing displacement. By 2010, the final runs of the Murcielago were powered by the final variant of this legendary motor, now up to 6.5L and an output of 650hp.
7. Lamborghini Defined a Genre
Today, there are a lot of companies pushing to develop the next big breakthrough car, especially in the realm of the supercar. In fact, the standard for the supercar we know today was actually set by Lamborghini back in 1966. It was this year that the company unveiled the Miura. What made the Miura such a big deal? This particular car is often credited with setting the standard for every supercar that came after. The Miura was a big deal not because it was a two-seater supercar that looked fantastic. No, it was a breakthrough because it was the first true road-going supercar that had a mid-mounted V12 engine. In a way, it was Ferruccio Lamborghini’s way of giving rival Enzo Ferrari a big middle finger.
6. They Have an SUV History
Even before the SUV craze of the 1990s, Lamborghini was trying its hand at this part of the car market. It all started with the Cheetah, a failed attempt to create a vehicle for the US Military. The Americans went with the Humvee but Lamborghini kept on trying to make an SUV which led to the LM002 in 1986. This V12 Countach powered vehicle had some Humvee design elements in it but with a bit more of the sportiness you’d expect to find from an Italian supercar designer. Only 328 were produced as Lamborghini looked ahead to their next SUV, the Urus. The new concept is slated for production and is to be powered by a turbocharged V10 engine.
5. A Lambo-Chrysler Sedan?
It all could have turned out much differently for Lamborghini when it was going through its uncertain period of the 1980s and 1990s. In 1987, Lamborghini was bought by Chrysler. That same year, the company unveiled the Portofino – a sedan that sported four scissor-doors and a 3.5L engine stuffed in behind the rear seats. It gave rise to the ‘cab forward’ concept which Chrysler would use in future vehicles. Fortunately, the Portofino stopped at the prototype stage, but that didn’t stop Chrysler from taking the design and using it in the Dodge Intrepid.
4. Stealth planes and Beetles
To the untrained eye, most modern-day Lamborghinis look the same. In fact, each one is very different as designers look to give specific models distinct features. So, where do they get their inspiration to design these supercars? In the case of the deadly looking Aventador, it all comes down to airplanes and bugs. To be specific, chief designer Filippo Perini looked to the F-22 Raptor and B-2 bomber when sculpting the various lines and angles we see in the car. In addition, to help finish off the design, he drew inspiration from the body of those shiny green beetles you sometimes see running around.
3. A Name in the Boating World
In addition to starting out in the tractor world and playing around in the SUV market, Lamborghini is also involved in the world of marine sport. We imagine the venture into boating started out a lot like the journey into cars. One day, over 40 years ago, Ferruccio Lamborghini probably came across a boat that just didn’t have the right sound and said “I can do better.” The result was the Riva Aquarama, powered by two of the V12s used in the company’s supercars. Over the following decades, Lamborghini V12s found their way into all sorts of professional powerboat races – an area most of us don’t associated the company with.
2. Music Legends Love Their Lambos
Today, if you’re a celebrity or sports star and you’re looking to burn through your cash, you buy yourself a small fleet of exotic cars. It’s not a new trend as people have been doing it since cars were around. In fact, in the late 1960s and 70s, celebrities turned to the Italian exotic cars to show off and Lamborghini was a favorite. Musician Miles Davis owned a Miura and almost died when he crashed his on the highway in 1972. Frank Sinatra also owned a Miura. The legendary crooner famously stated that “you buy a Ferrari when you wanted to be somebody. You buy a Lamborghini when you are somebody.”
1. Special Lamborghinis in Rome
Most people are familiar with the fact that various police forces around the world use Lamborghinis. The Italian police has a few special versions used to transport donated organs. The Dubai police have a fleet which is erroneously believed to be used to chase down fast criminals when in fact it’s just a PR stunt to stir up interest in tourism. One of the strangest police Lamborghinis actually used to patrol and keep order can be found in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Here, tourists will see the police driving around in their very own Lamborghini golf carts. We’re not sure they are as fast as the real deal but we imagine it’s far easier to navigate the crowds and narrow confines in the tiny Lambos.