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Ferruccio Lamborghini, the man and his dreams (1916 – 1993)
Ferruccio Elio Arturo Lamborghini was born on April 28.1916 under the Zodiac sign of Taurus, his parents were farmers but Ferruccio soon decided he wanted to do something with mechanics. He started working on his father’s tractor out of interest and was able to attend a technical school in Bologna later on.
During the second World War he was enrolled into the Italian Air Force, working for the transport sections, after 1944 he became a prisoner of war in the British military forces who put him to work in their motoring department, this way Ferruccio got firsthand experience keeping cars on the road, even with limited part supplies.
After the war he returned to his hometown and started converting old war surplus material into much needed tractors for the local farmers, the Lamborghini tractor business was inaugurated in a small garage, but the business got really successful and had to move into larger premises soon thereafter.
By now Ferruccio also started tuning Fiat cars; he actually built a Fiat Topolino for himself and entered in the 1948 Mille Miglia competition, unfortunately the car was wrecked in an accident. By 1949 Ferruccio Lamborghini was able to start building tractors from scratch, without using any leftovers, the Lamborghini Trattori factory was founded and production soon grew even further. The Lamborghini tractors became known as the best in Italy and Ferruccio started organizing tractor-pulls in his hometown just to show the superiority of his machines.
The tractor business made him a very wealthy man, and he started another factory building air-conditioning and central heating equipment. This additional enterprise made Ferruccio Lamborghini even more money and soon he became one of the wealthiest men in Italy, his love for fast cars became legendary as Ferruccio owned multiple exotic cars back then, a Mercedes SL300, a Jaguar and a Ferrari among others.
But his personal Ferrari ran into problems with the clutch and Ferruccio, being the hands on person he was, went to visit Enzo Ferrari to complain about it … Enzo refused to meet him as history is told, but that didn’t stop Ferruccio Lamborghini.
He noticed the clutch fitted to this Ferrari wasn’t any different from the ones Lamborghini mounted in their tractors, so he drove the Ferrari to the Cento factory and had a Borg & Beck clutch installed straight from the parts list of one if the tractor models … the problem never returned after that.
Ferruccio Lamborghini saw the tractor and oil burner business were taking care of themselves very nicely, making him money without having to keep an eye on the factory too much, so he decided it was time to start a new business … and Gran Turismo cars seemed like a good idea.
Ferruccio Lamborghini wasn’t known for being subtle, so in the early Sixties he had a completely new factory built on an industrial area in Sant’Agata, solely dedicated to building the best GT cars of that time, he wasn’t interested in highly tuned exotics back then, a smooth running V12 GT was his vision.
Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse, and after a series of deals going bad with the tractor factory combined with the economical unrest in Italy, Ferruccio decided to sell his interest in most of his companies during the Seventies and retire at his estate near Perugia, further South in Italy, where he began producing wine … known as ‘The blood of the Miura’.
Ferruccio married Clelia Monti at an early age, in 1947 they had a son Antonio Lamborghini, also called Tonino, unfortunately Clelia died giving birth. She was buried in the family grave and later on Ferruccio remarried, this time with Annita Borgatti … but this second marriage didn’t last either, Ferruccio divorced her and married a third time … Maria-Teresa Cane became the mother to Ferruccio’s daughter Patrizia. His son Tonino moved to Japan and started a few shops selling designer clothing under the Lamborghini name.
Ferruccio’s large estate La Fiorita near the Lake Trasimeno now held a state of the art winemaking facility producing over 800,000 bottles of wine each year. The estate also housed a small private museum of Lamborghini cars Ferruccio owned in those days, both the vineyard and the golf terrain were open for visitors, albeit by appointment only.
In this private car museum you would find Ferruccio’s favorite Lamborghini model, the Miura, there was even talk about Ferruccio being involved in Paolo Stanzani’s attempt to take over the Bugatti Automobili SpA factory but this was never officially confirmed.
When Chrysler took over Automobili Lamborghini SpA they replaced the Countach, a car Ferruccio was still involved with in the beginning, with the modern Diablo in the early Nineties, it would become the last Raging Bull car he would ever experience … Ferruccio Lamborghini died on February 20. 1993 in Perugia, Italy … only two months before his 77th birthday.
A few years later Tonino Lamborghini created a tribute to his father, he contacted the architect Diversi in Imola to design a kind of ‘arch’ to hold just about everything Sig. Ferruccio Lamborghini ever achieved during his life.
The museum was constructed on the grounds of Lamborghini Calor, at Dosso di Ferrara, the official grand opening occurred on May 13th, 1995. This project was named the Centro Polifunzionale Ferruccio Lamborghini and reached great popularity the moment its doors opened for the public. All visits were by appointment only, but still during 1997 over 4000 pilgrims came to visit this spectacular space-like museum. If you ever have the opportunity to visit it, don’t hesitate it is surely worth it, I was able to visit it during the summer of 1998 and it was overwhelming.
Today the vast collection of Ferruccio Lamborghini’s main industrial achievements, including a large number of tractors and some of the most stunning cars ever made in Sant’Agata are on display in the even larger Museo Ferruccio Lamborghini in Funo di Argelato.
Tonino Lamborghini named his son Ferruccio Jr, in honor to his father … so if the Raging Bull cars won’t keep the Lamborghini name alive, his grandson will …