There has always been something of the bridesmaid about Lamborghini and at first it’s hard to see why. By adding supercars to his tractor portfolio Ferruccio wasn’t the only person to wildly diversify his business simply to wind up Enzo Ferrari – Henry Ford II spent millions opening an entire racing department for this sole purpose – but he was the first. And the cars appeared to have it all: wild looks, wild motors and those names: Miura, Countach, Espada, Jarama… Each carried so much drama you felt they should come with exclamation marks appended to their endings.
And so it remains today. Some may titter somewhat at the image of the Lamborghini owner, more interested in show than go, driving wherever they are most likely to be seen, but even if there is some truth in the stereotype, you can’t blame the company for its customers, or BMW would be in a whole lot of trouble. Truth is, Lamborghini today remains true to its roots, making supercars that look far more spectacular than any Ferrari and sound, at the very least, just as good.
So why does Ferrari remain the more revered brand? Partly it’s to do with the fact that Lamborghini has a far patchier record as a manufacturer of real driving machines. In any given model range there’s usually a diamond – a Miura SV, Countach QV, Aventador SVJ and so on – but the overall standard over the years has not matched those of its rival on the other side of Modena. And there’s something else too: there’s never been a factory Lamborghini team at the top level of even sports car racing, let alone Formula 1. And when it comes to building a brand’s authenticity and desirability over a period of decades, people want to identify with winners, and you can’t win if you don’t take part.
Even so, we love the idea of Lamborghini: the drama, the flamboyancy, the sense of occasion that comes with every supercar it has ever produced. Long may it last.