18 Things You Didn't Know About Lamborghini
The Countach lived on your wall as a kid, and you probably knew that the Miura was the original supercar, but did you know there's a direct link between the Miura and modern IndyCars, that there was a Dodge sedan based on a Lamborghini concept, or that Ferruccio Lamborghini started out making tractors? To honor the man who died on February 20th, 1993, we hit the books and came up with 18 things you probably didn't know about Lamborghini.
1. Ferruccio Lamborghini was the original Tony Stark.
During WWII, he was stationed on the isolated island of Rhodes as a vehicle maintenance supervisor for the Italian Royal Air Force. Needless to say being stuck on an island in the middle of a war makes it pretty tricky to secure spare parts, forcing Lamborghini to cobble together scraps to keep his machines running. He quickly earned the reputation of being a master mechanic, and an even more prolific tinkerer. Kind of like that time Tony Stark built a nuclear reactor in a cave. But real.
2. The first Lamborghinis were tractors, and they're still made today.
Because of that WWII experience, when he got home he started piecing together tractors out of spare parts. People loved them, and his tractor business took off overnight. They're no longer part of the same company, but Lamborghini Trattori are still designed by the same firm that created the Gallardo and the Maserati MC12. They range in price from $30,000 to over $300,000 - the only question is, will your neighbor still give you credit for owning a Lambo?
3. Lamborghini was founded because Ferrari used tractor clutches and had crummy customer service.
Ferruccio famously owned a Ferrari 250GT, which he took in to be serviced at the Maranello headquarters after realizing that the clutch was identical to the one being used on his production line. He politely asked Enzo Ferrari for a replacement part, who replied "You're just a silly tractor manufacturer, how could you possibly know anything about sports cars?" Like any red blooded Italian, he spit on the floor, walked out and started designing his own sports car. Four months later he unveiled the Lamborghini 350GTV. Boss.
4. The first Lamborghini didn't even have an engine when they unveiled it.
The 350 GTV may have been the world's first Lambo, and ultimately, it led to the creation of the supercar genre, but when it was first unveiled at the Turin Auto Show it wasn't even finished, so they put a bunch of bricks where the engine should have been and kept the hood shut the entire time.
5. And it was designed by the guy who builds IndyCars now.
Gian Paolo Dallara did much of the Miura's chassis and engineering work, then went on to work in F1, before starting his own race engineering firm, which happens to build every single IndyCar chassis you see today.
6. In the late 1960s, if you didn't own a Miura, you were nobody.
Today, they're owned by people like Nicholas Cage and Jay Leno, but in the sixties Miuras were driven by people like Saudi King Fahd and Prince Faisal, Rod Stewart, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra, who famously said about his orange Miura with orange shag and wild boar skin seats: "You buy a Ferrari when you want to be somebody. You buy a Lamborghini when you are somebody."
7. There was almost a Lamborghini Taurus.
Ferruccio's birthday was April 28th, which meant he was a Taurus. That the constellation is in the shape of a bull is the reason Lamborghinis are named after bulls. It's a good thing he wasn't born in late February/early March or we could all be lusting after the Lamborghini Cichlid.
8. That would have still been better than this.
In 1987, Chrysler bought Lamborghini and started tinkering with the design, using American designers. They rounded out the Diablo, then designed a four door Lambo called the Portofino. Thankfully it never made it out of the concept phase, although Chrysler did use the design cues to build the unfortunate looking Intrepid.
9. Countach is a cuss word.
When the head of the Bertone design house first saw the concept that would become the flagship Lambo, he exclaimed "Countach!" in his Piedmontese dialect. Accounts vary as to what exactly that meant, from "Bloody hell!", to "Holy sh*t!", to a woman of um, "extravagant" looks.
10. They made an SUV, and you could get it with a boat motor.
The LM002 earned its nickname as the Rambo Lambo because people like Sylvester Stallone drove them. They generally came with "just" a Countach V12, but — and at least one was built this way— it was way better with a powerboat motor from Motori Marini Lamborghini, pumping out over 700 hp.
11. Lamborghini has won a ton of offshore powerboat championships.
And Motori Marini Lamborghini's engines are some of the most gorgeous internal combustion engines ever assembled. That they're 8.1 liters and put out up to 775 hp is simply a bonus.
12. Italian police use Gallardos to transfer donated organs.
Lamborghini donated a pair of the AWD screamers to the Italian equivalent of highway patrol. They use them to save lives, though one of them was totaled when it drove under a Mercedes in 2009.
13. The best anecdote about a Lamborghini you will probably ever read involves RoboCop, cocaine, and Miles Davis.
Director-turned-carbuilder Jim Glickenhaus was the first person on the scene when Miles Davis famously smashed his Miura to bits. You're going to want to click here, and read his first person account.
14. The Aventador design was inspired by an insect.
According to one of the chief designers of the Aventador, it took its inspiration from an F22, an F35, the B2, and “those shiny green jagged-leg beetles that smell bad when you step on them.”
15. If you've got some spare change, you can race someone else's Lambo.
Lamborghini's Super Trofeo series is designed for people who "only" want to spend about $30k per race. You get plenty of seat time, and the knowledge that you managed to race a Lamborghini on track without needing a change of underwear. Maybe.
16. You can virtually tour the Lamborghini Museum right now.
Thanks to Google Maps and Google's never-ending quest to take over the world, you can now tour the entire Lamborghini Museum without ever putting on pants.
17. Lamborghini wants you to drive like a madman at a ski resort.
The Lamborghini Winter Academy is all about teaching you how to have fun while driving 5-700 hp Lambos in the Alps. In the winter. Over nothing but snow and ice. It's surprisingly affordable, too, unless you hit something.
18. They built the very first Viper engine.
The Dodge Viper was developed in the late eighties, while Chrysler owned Lamborghini. Rather than simply dropping a truck motor into the car, Dodge had Lamborghini cast an aluminum version of it for the prototype. It wasn't the one used in production, but somewhere, locked away in Detroit, is a Lamborghini powered Viper.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the Miura as the car that debuted without an engine. It was the 350GTV.
Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor. He likes long walks on the beach, so long as the beach is next to a race track. Cars with just two pedals still confuse him sometimes, but you can follow him on Twitter while he tries to figure it out.