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The first Lamborghini

8 months ago

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Peter Robinson | Journalist


15 September 2023

October 29, 1963. Ferruccio Lamborghini has invited a handful of journalists to his unfinished factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese. For months, rumours that the Italian tractor manufacturer was planning to challenge Ferrari’s road cars had been circulating in the bars of Modena. The cluster of people gathered outside the factory near the quiet farming village were anticipating something special.

Lamborghini wanted his car to look different from existing Ferraris and Maseratis. And different the 350 GTV was. The onlookers, far more accustomed to the refined beauty of Pininfarina’s designs, were left stunned by its highly sculptured, chrome-laden form, its flowing curves with razor edges and small multi-curved glasshouse. Under the badge of the charging bull and below Ferruccio Lamborghini’s chromium signature scrawled across the sloping bonnet, they supposed sat the V12 of Italy’s newest GT car. If the Lamborghini’s flamboyant styling was received only with polite compliments, plaudits were showered on the specification of the new, Giotto Bizzarrini-designed V12, which boasted a specification far in advance of anything available from Ferrari at the time. Which was remarkable because, at the time, it wasn’t even under the bonnet.

Lamborghini had commissioned Franco Scaglione, designer of the superb Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint and the wild Bertone BAT Alfa Romeos from the mid-1950s, to create the new Lamborghini, giving him only vague dimensions of the tubular spaceframe chassis and some hazy engine sizing to work with. When Scaglione’s creation – constructed piecemeal from profile drawings by the tiny Sargiotto carrozzeria in Turin – was delivered to Sant’Agata, Lamborghini’s young and talented engineers were dismayed to find their tall dohc engine, with its six vertical twin-choke Weber carburettors, simply wouldn’t fit under the bonnet. At the reveal, what no outsider knew was that under the massive bonnet lay 500lb of ceramic tiles, there to provide the appropriate ride height.

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