Ferruccio Lamborghini was a revolutionary entrepreneur who was way ahead of his time: He had tenacity, vision, and stern determination which quickly elevated him to the top of the automobile industry. He paved the way for others in his field and made a name for himself in high society.
Let’s take a look in the life of one of the greatest industrialist pioneers of the twentieth century, Ferruccio Lamborghini:
Born into a family of grape farmers on April 28,1916 in Cento, Kingdom of Italy, Ferruccio Lamborghini showed little interest in farming for he had an innate gift and passion for engines and cars. Against his father’s wishes, Lamborghini attended the Taddia Brothers professional training institute near Bologna. He later trained in the workshop of a local master blacksmith who shared with him the secrets of iron working and wielding.
A true Taurus by nature, his headstrong and determined disposition landed him a position with Cavalier Righi, the owner of the most important workshop in Bologna. This workshop had been commissioned to service army vehicles and therefore would play a very important part in the shape and development of Ferruccio’s future and career.
Ferruccio Lamborghini had a love for cars and could be seen driving the dusty country roads of Italy in used automobiles that he had fixed up. He was carefree, young, and enjoying life, but this would be abruptly shattered by war and in 1940, he was drafted into the Italian Royal Air Force.
Ferruccio was sent to the Isle of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea, which was then Italian territory. He was assigned to the 50th Autoreparto Misto di Manovra’ where he reported to the High Command Armed Forces of the island. This unit was known as the ‘Autocentro’ and was responsible for the maintenance and repair of all military vehicles on the island.
The young and wise Lamborghini quickly realized that this was a rare and unique opportunity to work with some of the most sophisticated tools of the Italian and foreign mechanical industry. With his focused, studious, and determined mind, he worked his way to becoming head of the workshop department where his extraordinary intuition consistently led him to the center of any situation making him one of the most popular mechanics and engineers in the country .
During this time, Lamborghini earned the total trust of the Commander who would lend him his own personal vehicle for repair of the brakes.
In September of 1943, a tragedy of the war struck and all of the staff on the island had to evacuate, but Ferruccio later returned in civilian clothes and took on a series of odd jobs before later opening a small workshop with the permission of some Germans; They decided to take advantage of the young engineer’s skills instead of imprisoning him.
Return to Italy
In 1946, Ferruccio Lamborghini was free to return to Italy and discovered a very particular situation: the Centese area had emerged from war much better than many other areas, but agriculture was now in a crisis. For centuries this had been the area’s main source of income. At this time, the industry was dominated by Fiat, Landini, and Motomeccanica - all of whom were still producing vehicles with combustion engines. This allowed plenty of opportunity for technological improvement and Ferruccio decided to produce an economic yet powerful tractor dedicated to the peasants of ‘Bassa’ who all had small farms. He purchased cheap surplus war equipment, improved the engine and the fueling system, and created a very simple internal frame: the ‘Carioca’ tractor was born and was introduced to the public on February 3, 1948.
The tractor was a huge success and Ferruccio decided to expand production: he purchased a thousand Morris engines, 6-cylinder 3,500 cc gas powered; hired workmen and started production of tractor L33, the evolution of ‘Carioca’. By 1950, annual production reached 200 pieces and the company hired 300 workers who were carefully managed by a woman named Annita, Ferrucio’s future wife.
The Golden Age 1952 - 1959
As his number of employees increased, so did production and Ferruccio made the transition from manufacturer to industrialist. He is famous worldwide and the atmosphere in his company is a joyous one.
Ferruccio had an innate gift to understand the needs of potential customers way ahead of his competition. He had already proven this for some years now by producing tractors with Diesel engines and later producing them in Italy as well. This drove up production and new products were projected as investment in innovation continued. Ferruccio’s business grew to nearly 400 employees producing 25 to 30 units per day.
Lamborghini Auto 1960 - 1964
Lamborghini Trattori was a huge success and after dabbling in the heating industry a bit, Ferruccio turned his attention to his passion for cars. He had a staff meeting, announced his desire to build automobiles, and selected engineer Gian Paolo Dallara, a young designer with an excellent technical background, as his project manager.
As always, Ferruccio knew exactly what he wanted: a V12 engine, four camshifts in the head, two valves per cylinder, six twin choke carburetors, and a dry sump lubrication. He assigned the design of the engine to a former Ferrari employee named Giotto Bizzarrini. As he had previously done, he hired the best technicians from the competition and began manufacturing the car lovers' dream: The Lamborghini 350 GTV which was exhibited at the 1963 Turin Motor Show. It was later followed by the 400 GT.
Ferruccio selected the bull as the symbol of his new company: “warrior, stubborn, and never tamed,” much like himself. (museolamborghini.com).
The Miura Car 1965 - 1968
Ferruccio was charming and charismatic. He quickly established a relationship with prominent journalists and business affiliates in the automobile world. He was extremely successful and his company became one of the first Italian manufacturers of granturismo.
In 1966, the P400 Miura is born; The results are amazing. It is years ahead of the competitors’ vehicle and unlikely people from all over the world request to purchase the car. The Miura is a symbol of luxury and fine elegance.
The Years of Lead 1969 - 1973
By the end of the 1960s, Ferruccio is in a crisis with Lamborghini Trattori. In its earlier years, the brand went through a radical transformation within the company and the number of employees had doubled. The Bolivian state had approved a significant order, but the political situation in the Southern American country abruptly changed after a coup-d’etat. This resulted in the cancellation of the order and left 5,000 tractors on hold and still in the factory waiting to be sold.
This and the after effects of the trade unions and strikes did not help the matter and left Ferruccio much disoriented.
From this point on, things started to recede by the spring of 1971, but only at a high cost: The buildings are sold to Fiat, who in only interested in opening in Cento, an area already wealthy in highly specialized manpower.
The employees had to decide if they wanted to go to Fiat or follow Ferruccio to the new company in Pieve. Thanks to the liquidity gained by the sale of the tractors initially created for Bolivia, as well as, the loyalty from his workers, Ferruccio gets back on top. However, the crisis had an immense impact on him and he sells Trattori to Same. The company Ferruccio hands over is modern, wealthy, and has a highly skilled labor force.
Ferruccio also sells 51% of his shares in Lamborghini Automobili; He is no longer in line with the industrial world around him.
La Fiorita 1974 - 1993
After he parted from his companions, Ferruccio purchased land near Lake Trasimeno (La Fiorita) and relocated in 1974. He transformed an old cottage covered with holly oak trees into one of the most modern agricultural estates of Europe. Ferruccio later purchased more land, hired the most experienced winemakers in Italy, and created an incredible innovative winery.
At first, Ferruccio moved to La Fiorita for peace and relaxation, but due to his entrepreneur tendency, he turned the land into tennis camps, swimming pools, and golf camps.
Ferruccio Lamborghini lived his last years here and died in 1993 surrounded by his friends who visited him daily. His legacy still lives on through his many iconic cars including the Miura, Diablo, Countach, Aventador, Huracan, and the Murcialago - just to name a few!
In 2014, Lamborghini's grandson, Mateo, took over the company as CEO and contols all aspects of the Lamborghini brand, including the clothing line and all other merchandise. Under his leadership, the business has continued to flourish and produce some of the most stylish and powerful automobiles on the market.
On November 18, 2022, the movie, Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend, was released by Lionsgate. The film does an excellent job in portraying the dedication, integrity, and perserverance of Ferruccio Lamborghini. See trailer below:
1. Visit Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum in Italy. Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum. (2018, January 18). https://www.museolamborghini.com/en/ferruccio-lamborghini-museum/
2. Think Marketing. (2022, November 17). A must-watch movie for marketers: The story of Ferruccio Lamborghini. https://thinkmarketingmagazine.com/a-must-watch-for-marketers-the-story-of-ferruccio-lamborghini/