Ferruccio was born on April 28th, 1916 to poor grape farmers in Northern Italy. As he grew up, he became more interested in farming equipment and tractors than actual farming, and in the 1930s he enrolled at the Fratelli Taddia technical institute to study mechanics.
In 1940, Ferruccio was drafted in the Italian Royal Air Force during WWII where he served as a supervisor in the vehicle maintenance unit on the Island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean, but Rhodes was taken by the British in 1945 and Ferruccio was taken prisoner. He was allowed to return home a year later.
When he returned home, he married, but his wife died in 1947 when his son, Antonio, was born. In 1948, Ferruccio threw himself in work and opened a garage in Pieve de Cento and founded a tractor company that same year.
While he was working on tractors, Ferruccio also liked to tinker with cars, and began converting an old Fiat Topolino into a 750-cc open-top coupe and even competed in the 1948 Mille Miglia, a thousand mile race. After 700 miles, Ferruccio crashed into the side of restaurant in Turin, Italy, and decided to stick to mechanics from then on.
Ferruccio’s tractor business boomed as the Italian economy recovered after the war, so he expanded into other industries and started to manufacture air conditioners and heating units. As Ferruccio grew rich, he began to buy a variety of luxury sports cars, and in 1958 he traveled to Maranello to buy what was considered to be the best car in the world: a Ferrari 250GT. Ferruccio loved his cars, but was inherently dissatisfied with their performance.
Ferruccio spoke of one car maker whose car he owned, that Adolfo Orsi “was a man I had a lot of respect for: he had started life as a poor boy, like myself. But I did not like his cars much.” Adolfo had bought a car company in 1937 from three brothers with the last name Maserati.
The car he was most annoyed with was the Ferrari. Ferruccio hated how the clutch burned out all the time and the vehicle needed constant repairs in Maranello. He contacted Ferrari’s customer service, and receiving no help, he decided to talk to Enzo Ferrari himself about the problem with the clutch in his cars.
“One day I had a bit of an argument with my friend Enzo Ferrari, who reckoned I wasn’t able to drive a Ferrari, only tractors. That’s when I got the idea into my head and told myself – I’ll make the cars myself from now on.“
“Ferrari never spoke to me again. He was a great man, I admit, but it was so very easy to upset him.”
Ferruccio took matter into his own hands and modified his own Ferrari 250GT to outperform stock models. Using his knowledge of mechanics, he used tractor components to make better quality parts at a fraction of the price. He built a car he believed no one else could build for him.
In 1962, Ferruccio, pondering starting a new company, went to Spain to visit the ranch of a Don that would influence his style forever.
“I visited Eduardo Miura’s ranch in Seville where he raised bulls for bullfighting, and I was so impressed that by the time I got home I had already selected my future emblem.”
In 1963 Ferruccio finally founded his own car company under his own name, Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini S.p.A. and his first car, the Lamborghini 350 GT was born. One of Lamborghini’s greatest cars, the Miura, named after the Don, was the fastest production car of it’s time and considered to be the world’s first super car.
“When I miss the sound and the fury, I take refuge in my garage and turn the key in the ignition of my Miura…”
Lamborghini’s story just goes to show you that when you need something done right, it’s best to just do it yourself because no one will be as passionate about it than you.