Lamborghini’s first symphony: the 1963 350GT was only the beginning of several jaw-dropping designs by the avant-garde automaker

Defined by his rivals

by Andy Bryenton

There’s a very old saying that a warrior is defined by the quality of his enemies. Great words for a Viking chieftain to live by, perhaps, but also very true of the rivalry, which exists in the top echelons of motorsport and design.

With the tale of how Ford locked horns with the brilliant, stubborn Enzo Ferrari now in cinemas, it’s a good time to look at another advance in autos, which was only brought about by the Ferrari founder’s fiery pride and temper. It’s the story of a grape farming family from Italy, and their young son Ferrucio. A gifted mechanic, he saw a way to turn surplus tank and truck parts left over from the second world war into tractors to rebuild Italy’s economy. When this made him a wealthy man, he invested in his love of machines, buying race cars from the best of the best — Ferrari.

Moreover, his clever engineering mind would not leave Enzo’s masterpieces alone. He set to work overhauling the clutch of his Ferrari racer, as well as making the engine more powerful and less noisy. Thinking that the great man might like to know these tricks to increase performance and reliability, he got in contact. He hadn’t counted on the famous temperament of the ‘godfather of speed’. Ferrari told him in blunt (some say unprintable) terms that a tractor salesman and farmer had no place telling him how to build a car. It was an embarrassing moment. Revenge, for Ferrucio, was coming. He used his knowledge of mass-producing tractors to build the most advanced auto works in Italy, at Sant’Agarta. He hired Giotto Bizzarrini, a top engine designer, and Giampaolo Dallara, an auto aerodynamics pioneer, and got to work. Deciding that the thoroughbred stallion of Ferrari’s logo needed taking down a peg or two, he chose for his insignia a rural icon — a raging bull. In time for the Turin Motor Show of 1963, Ferrucio was ready to reveal his challenge to Enzo Ferrari, the GT350. Its name was that of his grape-growing family — Lamborghini.

In later years, when the Lamborghini name was firmly cemented as a contemporary of Ferrari, and one of the world’s most coveted supercars, Ferrucio admitted that if it wasn’t for that insult, he might now have had the passion to turn his hobby into a multi-billion dollar business. So thank you once again, Mr Ferrari, for being an abrasive, single-minded genius.

You brought out the best in your rivals, making the auto world that little bit more interesting.