April 28, 1916 – Ferruccio Lamborghini is born

Today you can say happy birthday to a man who reinvented the wheel, or at least doors. Ferruccio Lamborghini was born on this day in 1916 in Renazzo, a small Italian town, to grape farmer parents. After studying at a technical institute to pursue his early mechanical passions, he was drafted into the Italian Royal Air Force during World War II. Lamborghini served as a mechanic on the Island of Rhodes, but was taken prisoner by the British at the end of the war. He was finally able to return home in 1947, and with his refined set of skills he founded Lamborghini Trattori the next year. At the same time he was customizing a Fiat Topolino, which he eventually entered into the 1948 Mille Miglia. He did not finish due to a wreck 680 miles into the race, but this initiated a long lasting passion for unique automobiles.

Above: 1963 Lamborghini 350 GTV prototype. By Craig Howell from San Carlos, CA. CC BY 2.0
Top: Ferruccio Lamborghini with Lamborghini car and tractor

He turned his focus to his new business, which produced tractors and other agricultural equipment, and later oil heaters and air conditioners. He built a fortune that allowed him to purchase sports cars and other fine automobiles, which included a Ferrari 250GT that he acquired in 1958. This was the first of several Ferraris he would own. As legend has it, Lamborghini was unhappy with a variety of his Ferraris’ components, as well as the after sales service that he received. After having his misgivings dismissed by Enzo Ferrari, he decided to begin his own auto manufacturing venture that would outshine Ferrari. This led to the founding of Automobili Lamborghini in 1963.  The initial result was the 1963 350 GTV prototype, which gave way to the production 350 GT. 

Lamborghini Miura. By © Jörgens.mi, CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1967 the Miura was born. Nowadays, this mid-engined two-seater is often considered the first true supercar. It was succeeded by the Countach, of which Ferruccio initiated the development of. When it went into production in 1974, the same year Ferruccio retired, it became the first production car with scissor style doors.

Lamborghini Countach. By Brian Snelson from Hockley, Essex, England, CC BY 2.0

After retirement, Ferruccio sold off most of his interests in his various companies that still produced hydraulics, tractors and of course automobiles. He spent much of his time hunting and making wine, while occasionally dabbling in business. He passed away at age 76 on February 20, 1993 following a heart attack 15 days earlier.

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