“The rest of our Full Throttle video team won’t have heard of the Lamborghini 350 GTV despite that fact that they have been afforded the privilege of driving two of Lamborghini’s finest sports cars for the past two years running. Too young to care about the classics I suspect”
Almost directly above the reception in the sleepy country village in Sant’Agata Bolognese, the home of Lamborghini, is a museum with some of the finest automotive collectables on the planet.
One of those exhibits is the first ‘Gran Turismo’ to bear the famous Lamborghini emblem and one of the few cars to ever be named after the founder Ferrucio Lamborghini, as badged on the front and rear of the car.
The story behind Lamborghini is interesting and well worth sharing.
Born on farm near Modena in 1916, close to the home of Ferrari, Ferruccio always had an interest in mechanical things and eventually graduated in engineering from a technical university in Bologna, not far from his home.
After the World War Two, where Ferruccio served with the Italian air force in the Greek Islands, he opened a modest workshop where he built tractors from parts of ex-military vehicles.
It was a smart move, given the agricultural region and drastic shortage of farm machinery. From there he developed his own brand of tractors powered by various capacity diesel engines. He even developed a direct injection system in 1954, which was added to the range.
By then, the company was called Lamborghini Tractori SpA and Ferruccio needed a much larger factory. With close to 400 tractors being produced each month Lamborghini was one of the biggest manufacturers in Italy by the late ’60s.
Looking for more opportunities, Lamborghini went to the Unites States where he got the idea to manufacture heating and air-conditioning units. A new company was formed, Bruciatori SpA and this also boomed.
By now Lamborghini was a wealthy guy and what else was there to do if you liked cars in those days, build helicopters or buy a Ferrari. The government denied him approval for the former, so he ended up with a Ferrari 250GT, a fine automobile by all accounts, but not if you’re Ferruccio Lamborghini.
He had problems with the workmanship on the Ferrari, a weak clutch may have been just one of his issues and so he requested a meeting with Enzo Ferrari but was refused, although its difficult to determine specific details surrounding this event.
Incensed, Lamborghini decided that he could build a better car without the use of the standard parts, which he complained Ferrari was using at the time.
The story goes on, but this is where the Lamborghini 350GTV is born, although this car was actually assembled at the tractor factory in Cento prior to the completion of the Sant’Agata premises.
Nothing wrong with that though, this was the first GT car from Lamborghini and was powered by a V-12 designed by the brilliant engineer, Giotto Bizzarrini who had left Ferrari, as did four other talented engineers.
This was truly a superb engine, four overhead camshafts and 4.0-litres of Bizzarrini V-12 heaven for the 350 GTV but the 350bhp output was detuned to produce 270bhp at 6000rpm under instructions from Ferruccio, who wanted a smooth running GT rather than a highly tuned race style engine.
Franco Scaglione designed the body of the 350GTV while Neri & Bonacini built the square tube steel chassis, and what a job they did.
The car was fitted with disc brakes all round, with fully independent suspension and a ZF five-speed transmission.
In 1973, Ferruccio sold all his companies and retired to his vineyard in Italy’s Umbria province and set about producing some of Italy’s best red wines.
His estate, La Florita, a huge home surrounded by tennis courts, an Olympic-size pool and a museum to house Lamborghini cars, Ferrucio produced a wine called Colli del Trasimento, also known as “Blood of the Miura”. Sadly Ferruccio died here on February 20, 1993.
Today, a Lamborghini is even more desirable than a Ferrari, and continues to flourish under Volkswagen ownership and CEO Stephan Winklemann’s successful management.