The whole mystique of Automobili Lamborghini
is related to the man who had the inspiration, the skill and the
determination to turn a dream into a reality.
Ferruccio Lamborghini was born in Renazzo, a little village near
Bologna, on the 28th of April 1916. His parents were farmers but
Ferruccio did not inherit from them the love of the land and, from the
very early days of his life, he showed an interest in technology and
mechanics. He completed his technical studies in Bologna and soon after
was able to put his know-how to the test when during the Second World
War he was put in charge of vehicle maintenance in Rhodes, Greece.
It was probably due to his experience gained during the War that once he
returned home, he started buying old military vehicles converting them
into tractors, something that Italy desperately needed after the War.
The success of this enterprise prompted him to buy a workshop in Cento
where, from 1948 onward, Lamborghini tractors were produced. In 1959 the
Lamborghini production was extended to burners and air conditioning
Having thus obtained a solid financial background Ferruccio Lamborghini
launched himself into yet another new enterprise: the production of
helicopters, one of his life-long passions, but he was stopped by the
Government’s refusal to grant him a license. He then decided to turn his
attention to cars and in doing so his life took a decisive turn and the
car world was never the same again.
He opened a car factory in Sant'Agata in 1963, which started delivering
cars in 1964: in doing so, the legend was started. Year after year this
factory has produced cars that have been the ideal of beauty and
perfection expressing better then anything else Ferruccio Lamborghini’s
desire for nothing but the very best.
From 1963 to 1972 the Company grew at a steady rate, the only limiting
factor was the launch of new cars which slowed down production capacity.
The year 1972 however, was marked by the worst crisis ever known by
Lamborghini, coupled with the oil embargo and the general world
recession which resulted in a dramatic reduction in sales, Ferruccio was
forced to sell 51% of the company to a Swiss businessman, Georges-Henri
Rossetti. Then in 1974 he sold the remaining 49% shares to a friend of
Rossetti, René Leimer. The new Shareholders did not have day to day
involvement in the company and were reluctant to invest, and for this
reason the company found itself in difficulty with suppliers who were
concerned over late payment of invoices.
1977 was probably the worst year for Lamborghini due to strategic
mistakes on the part of the owners, which brought Lamborghini to over
invest in an off-road vehicle without the prospect of sales and the
underevaluation of a signed agreement with BMW for the production of a
small series of sporting cars, an agreement which was annulled by the
German company in 1978.
The situation was so serious that the Bologna courts were forced to
bring the Company to the sad stage of receivership. Fortunately the
company was entrusted to Alessandro Artese, a Bolognese expert in
Commercial Law who was also a car enthusiast. Together with Sgarzi,
sales manager, and the help of Giulio Alfieri, technical director, they
managed to pull the company through a very difficult time, whilst
searching for new shareholders.
The Company never closed down, thanks to the determination of its
employees, the passion and loyalty of its clients and the support of its
distributors. This situation lasted until July 1980 when the Bologna
Court decided to sell the Company to the Mimran Brothers, well known
tycoons in the food industry. The new owners, whose passion for cars was
well known, started rebuilding the company investing in the plant, in
new products and the search for a skilled workforce.
Decisive improvements were achieved from 1984 to 1986: the Company took
off again and new foundations were set for a decisive growth, whilst the
symbol of the Company, a charging bull, became well established and
known on the market.
The growth rate was so fast and so demanding upon capital expenditure
that it made it almost impossible for private individuals to support it
properly. The need for a professional and strong partner became obvious
and Chrysler seemed to be an ideal choice.
Chrysler, fortunately, found Lamborghini extremely attractive, thanks to
its motivated management, its new products, the quality of manpower and
the fascination of the marque: Chrysler asked the Mimran family for
total share capital and an agreement was reached between them and signed
in Sant'Agata on the 23rd of April 1987 by Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Mimram
in the presence of all the Lamborghini workforce.
The reshaping of the Company started with the nomination of Mr. Emile
Novaro as President of Lamborghini. Funds were injected in the Company's
workshop to increase
production. On 7th of May 1990 after 19 years of work and 1997 cars
produced, the Countach model went out of production giving way to the
new Diablo model.
The production and sale of the Diablo reached its peak in 1991 and the
Balance Sheet for that year showed a profit.
But the crisis of the world market was approaching. The ensuing years
were very hard for automobile manufacturers and were a disaster for the
world economy. The recession became dramatic and the dreamcar market in
1992 registered a significant drop in sales.
One would have to wait until 1993 to see a difficult and slow recovery
of the world economy. 1994 seems to be the year of the economic
shakedown although the experts say that 1990/1991 sales peaks will never
again be achieved.
The crisis motivated the company's reorganisation and promoted the
production diversification through new experimental projects, such as an
electric vehicle for urban transportation, third-party mechanical
machining, marine engine development and production.
In March 1993 the Diablo VT was introduced to the press and the public.
This VT version is a Diablo fitted with a viscous coupling that turns
the traction of the vehicle into a four-wheel drive mode when required.
In September of the same year Automobili Lamborghini presented the
Diablo Special Edition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the
In January 1994 Chysler Corporation agreed to sell Automobili
Lamborghini to MegaTech, a company which is part of the Indonesian Group
In 1994 Lamborghini won, for the first time, the Class 1 World Off-shore
championship, setting a leadership that continues on today.
In 1995 the shareholders became V’Power (60%), Indonesian company
controlled by Tommy Suharto, and MyCom (40%), Malaysian company
controlled by Jeff Yap.
In November 1996 Vittorio Di Capua, a well known manager with wide
experience in the car business gained over 40 years of work within the
FIAT group, become president and chief executive officer of Automobili
Lamborghini s.p.a. with the difficult task to recover the company from a
very difficult situation of heavy losses. Under his leadership strong
action in cost cutting and restructuring has brought Lamborghini’s
balance sheet black figures, in 1997, for the first time after many
years, thus attracting institutional investors interested in the
acquisition of such a prestigious brand.
On the 24 of July 1998 an agreement between the shareholders of
Lamborghini and Audi was signed in London for the complete take-over of
the Company. Finally the House of the Bull has a strong owner, widely
respected in the automotive world for its technical competence and
commercial success, that will open new perspective of success to the
supercars built in Sant'Agata.
In September 1998 Rodolfo Rocchio, an Italian engineer with many years
experience within the Audi group, was appointed co-CEO of Automobili
In January 1999 the company was restructured.
Today Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A. with its President
Franz-Josef Paefgen, has full control of three separate companies :
This strategy was implemented in order to guarantee the dedicated focus
of each company in their respective fields.
In June 1999 Vittorio Di Capua resigned as President and co-CEO of
Automobili Lamborghini SPA.
Giuseppe Greco, a manager with a wide experience in the automotive field
with Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, has been appointed President of
Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. and co-CEO of Automobili Lamborghini
In 1999 sales rose to 265 units, with an increase of about 25% compared
to the previous year.
In January 2000 a radical restructuring in the headquarters is going to
be carried out.
The new buildings will be ready by Spring 2001.