Lamborghini 60 Years
The Rich History of The Lambo
Stuart Coddling chronicles the history of Lamborghini - from the early 1960s to modern time - with major photography by James Mann.
By Stuart Rowlands & Doug Stokes
Wed, May 31, 2023 12:08 PM PST
Photography: James Mann
In the early 1960’s, Italian farm tractor magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini took a long look at all the Italian, British, and German sportscars sitting in his garage and decided he could do better. His ambition was to build the perfect sports car. This revelation followed, at least according to myth, an ill-tempered exchange with Enzo Ferrari on the repeated repair of the gearbox of Ferruccio’ s 250GT Ferrari Berlinetta.
How it happened, and if it really happened that way, is immaterial to the thought of a good public row lighting up the international motorsports media. In truth, it brought a breath of fresh air to a moribund industry choked with a plethora of high-end sports cars including Ferrari, Aston Martin, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Audi, and Jaguar.
Lamborghini, with a keen sense of the future, set up production in the rundown industrial commune of Sant ’Agata Bolognese in northern Italy - where it still is today. His reputation as a successful industrialist seeking to build the best sports car soon attracted talented young designers and builders as well as financing from the local Communist Party who wanted to attract some sorely needed jobs to the area.
By 1965 Lamborghini was nearly ready and introduced the achingly beautiful front-engined Miura powered by a V12 engine, only to see his coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring fall headlong into financial trouble with only about 6oo of them ever built. (One was recently sold at auction (August 22) by Bonhams for $1,957,500).
In 1966 he stunned the automotive world at the Geneva Auto Show by unveiling the world’s first mid-engined production sports car – the the indelible Countach with it’s off-copied swing-up door - the era of the Supercar had arrived. The battle was on, and the automotive world was the richer for it.
Written by Stuart Coddling with major photography by James Mann, “Lamborghini – 60 years” is an update of their original Lamborghini tome of a decade ago. Despite my distinctly northern ancestry (Welch), this superb book will enjoy an important niche in my automotive library and I predict its appeal to virtually every fan of exotic sportscars.
Hunt and Mann know their subject from front to back and leave very little unsaid, or un-photographed for that matter. This book is a master-class with detailed texts - including specification tables highlighting key technical and performance data of the various models - and is superbly illustrated.
But it is much more than that. The legends and tasty stories are included while the subsequent seven owners that followed Ferruccio Lamborghini struggle through European recessions, receiverships, and bankruptcies while building some of the most powerful, iconic, arrogant, and graceful supercars that have ever graced the road.
The turning point came in 1998 when Audi AG took over the reins and did their sums correctly – finding that Lamborghini would have to sell 1500 cars a year to survive(!)...
The Gallardo with its mighty V-10 was the result. In 2003 esteemed writer Peter Robinson of Autocar included the following in his Gallardo’s review “The view over the shoulder, hindered by the buttresses from the roof almost to the very end of the car, remains true to Sant ’Agata’s ‘who-cares-what’s-behind-you attitude.” (Right on, Mister L.! )
I’d say that Ferruccio Lamborghini would have been proud.
Lamborghini 60 years is just that. Eleven chapters are all supercars, with the remaining two introducing new designs and “fast-attack” military vehicles to the lineup. Again, the photography is eye-opening and a glimpse of an exciting future for Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
Sidebar By Doug Stokes
I really don’t remember the year, but quite a few years ago I was offered a review drive in the then new Countach and accepted quite giddily... A few days later the delivery team brought a deep burgundy example of the breed to my office.
As usual there was a brief walk-around session and then, just when I expected to be handed the keys, the nice guys from the land of Lambo said: “… And now, Mister Stokes, we shall show you how to back this car up.”
OK, I admit I’m not the best parallel-parker in the world, but I get by so I sort of demurred from the exercise, “… No, sorry, we can’t leave the car with you until we see you back the car up successfully…” was the answer.
Sitting in the car prior to the above, one notices that neither the vestigial inside mirror nor the side units gave any indication of anything that lurked behind for a good 50 feet out.
“Ok, show me.” (this was well before the now very, very good/accurate back-up cameras of today’s better models) which they did.
Step one: Open the gigantic cheese-slicer driver’s side door and sit down on the ultra-wide threshold.
Step two: Slide your right leg over the almost knee-high threshold opening... Sitting on the broad sill, engage the clutch, and then shift the car into reverse.
Step three: Start the 370 horsepower V-12 engine.
Step four: Grasp the steering wheel and, turning 90 degrees to look back over your left shoulder, let the clutch out ever so s-l-o-w-l-y, and back the $118,000,00 car up … just as easy as that.
… I thought about all the incredible raging bull fun that the week ahead promised, and then pictured myself just trying to get out of my tree-lined driveway - and other potential misadventures for seven days with this one - and handed the keys back to the (stunned, scandalized) Lambo guys with a real world shrug.
I know, I know, I sort of still regret my instinct there, and maybe I could have fasted from curbside parking for a week…
And, if you think the accolades for the indelible Raging Bull brand and its 60 years of flat-out excitement have subsided just a bit ... Well, think again, as one of the most prestigious international car events on the world calendar revs up to salute and celebrate Lamborghini in fine fashion at Blenheim Palace ...
Written By Stuart Coddling
Photography By James Mann
Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc
Pages: 239 Hardcover
Price: $60.00 US: £45.00 UK: $80:00 CAN
About The Authors
Stuart Rowlands is a long-time publicist with more than 500 events in 18 countries to his credit. Among his clients are the Nobel Peace Prize and Concert, the Quebec Ministry of Tourism, Muhammad Ali, and both Honda and Suzuki motorcycle racing teams. He admits to being a rock publicist in a former life and his resume includes more than a few fan riots as well as being terrified of taking Don King on a media tour. An inspired reader, Rowlands loves good books and we think that he reports on them quite well.
Doug has a long and wide-ranging history in the motoring business. He served five years as the Executive Director of the International Kart Federation, and was the PR guy for the Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Championship Gran Prix. He worked racing PR for both Honda and Suzuki and was a senior PR person on the first Los Angeles (Vintage) Grand Prix. He was also the first PR Manager for Perris Auto Speedway, and spent over 20 years as the VP of Communications at Irwindale Speedway. Stokes is the recipient of the American Autowriters and Broadcaster’s 2005 Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations and was honored in 2015 by the Motor Press Guild with their Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. “… I’ve also been reviewing automobiles and books for over 20 years, and really enjoy my LA Car assignments.” he added.