The Prisoner Who Invented Lamborghini





 Ferruccio Lamborghini was a prisoner of war. When he returned to Italy, he opened a small garage and converted military equipment into farming tractors. His timely venture turned him into a millionaire, and later the inventor of the most talked-about luxury sports car: Lamborghini. 



It all started with being told he was just a farmer from Enzo Ferrari. In 1916, Ferruccio was born on a farm in the rural town of Renazzo in Northern Italy. His parents grew grapes to make wine for a living and raised him amongst their vineyards. They taught him to roll up his sleeves and have the drive to make quality products. Ferruccio took their lessons to heart but not in the way that they had hoped for or imagined. He was more interested in fixing their tractors than learning how to manage the farm. Along with being disappointing, it was considered risky to stray from the family’s business. Still, Ferruccio chose to explore his passion and studied mechanics at the Fratelli Taddia technical institute. To his father’s dismay, Ferrucio never looked back after graduating. He started training with a master blacksmith who shared all of his ironworking and welding secrets. But it wasn’t enough to impress a major factory that he had his eyes set on: Cavalier Righi in Bologna. At the time, the factory worked on maintaining the Italian Army’s vehicles. Headstrong and stubborn, Ferruccio persisted and managed to convince the owner to hire him. When he turned 18, he left and returned to his hometown, Randazzo. There, he opened a workshop with his longtime friend, Marino Filippini. It wasn’t until years later that he would discover it was the first step towards turning his passion into an empire. But first, he would have to escape the clutches of his captors. When the Second World War hit, Ferruccio has torn away from his carefree life. He was drafted by the Royal Italian Air Force and was assigned to work as a mechanic at the garrison in Rhodes Island, Greece. Three years later, Italy surrendered. Afterwards, the German forces took over the garrison and evicted the Italians. Ferruccio decided to stay and asked for permission to open his own workshop. Two years later, the Allied Forces arrived. They took everyone in the garrison as prisoners, including Ferruccio. When they discovered his technical aptitude, they got him to work on fixing their vehicles. One year later, they allowed him to leave. Ferruccio’s early years back home were far from blissful. His wife, Clelia, passed away while giving birth to their only child: Tonino. Afterwards, Ferruccio kept himself busy at his workshop, where he mostly fixed pre-war vehicles, lorries, and tractors. But one day, he received an urgent request from his father that changed the course of his life. “I need a new tractor,” Ferruccio’s father requested. It was then that Ferruccio was struck with a realization. Italy desperately needed to increase its agricultural production to recover from the war. But it needed better equipment to make that possible. Armed with experience in working with Allied and Axis vehicles, Ferruccio bought leftover military equipment and used them to make new tractors. They were built with an old British Morris engine and modified to run on cheap diesel instead of expensive petro. They were said to be more affordable and innovative than anything anyone had seen before. Later, Ferruccio started a new company called Lamborghini Tractors. While his tractors were in demand, he needed more capital for production. So his father used his farm as collateral for a loan. The risk Ferruccio and his father took paid in more ways than both of them could have imagined. Soon after, the company became one of the largest manufacturers of its kind in Italy. Ferruccio celebrated his success with good food, fine wine, and fast cars. He even started to collect Jaguars, Mercedes, Maseratis, and Ferraris. But none of them completely satisfied him. He was particularly disappointed with his Ferrari 250 GT since the clutch would always break down. One day, he brought the Ferrari to his mechanic for repairs. Ferruccio discovered that the clutch was identical to the one fitted onto one of his tractors. This did not sit well with him since he paid 10 euros for the clutch his tractor used and paid Ferrari 1000 euros for the same part. Later, he decided to tell Enzo Ferrari about the imperfections he found in his cars. Along with the clutches needing frequent repairs, they were considered too noisy and rough on the road. Enzo brushed Ferruccio off and insisted the problem wasn’t with the car but with him. “You’re a tractor driver, a farmer. You shouldn’t complain about my cars. They’re the best in the world.” “Yes, I’m a farmer, but I’ll show you how a sports car should be.” That day, Ferruccio went home determined to prove what he was capable of. Many called his conquest crazy and believed he would squander his fortune. Still, Ferruccio forged ahead and started a new company under his name. He hired three of Ferrari’s ex-employees and bought a large plot of land to build a factory. In just nine months, Ferruccio completed his first sports car featuring his astrological sign as the emblem: the Lamborghini 350 GT. It was considered a technical masterpiece and included a V12 engine, five-speed transmission, four-wheel disk brakes, and four-wheel independent suspension. It was unveiled for the first time at the Turin Motor Show and praised by customers and critics. Ferruccio proved to Enzo and his doubters that he wasn’t just a farmer but also a mechanical genius capable of building superior cars. It was a sophisticated car that had a lot of class and was easy to operate. Over the next few years, Ferruccio's tractor and sports car businesses flourished. When it came to designing new models, Ferruccio gave his engineers the freedom to experiment. This leadership style led to his team building the 400 GT and a secret project: the Miura P400. It was developed as a street race car and was the first in history to be made with a rear mid-engine layout. It was kept a secret from Ferruccio since he was against the idea of building race cars. Several years before, he entered a prestigious race and crashed into the side of a restaurant. When Ferruccio found out, he decided not to scrap the idea. It turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made. The Miura became known as the world's first supercar, and its rear mid-engine layout became the standard for all high-performance cars. From then on, Lamborghini Trattori continued its successful streak and debuted more celebrated models: the Espada, the Islero, the Jarama, the Urraco, and the Countach. They were said to be superior to other sports cars since they didn't use anyone else's parts. And the Countach was said to be the most written-about car in history. Unfortunately, Ferruccio's success came to a halt after facing a series of events beyond his control. A deal to supply Bolivia with 5,000 tractors was canceled after the country faced a coup. The loss forced Ferruccio to sell his tractor company, and 51% of his Automobili Lamborghini shares. Later, the global stock market experienced a dramatic crash, and the OAPEC started an oil embargo. It led to increased fuel prices and threw the automotive industry into a crisis. We know with the shortage of gasoline that they talk about in Washington is affecting employment not only in Maryland but in our nation. Ferruccio did his best to keep his businesses alive and managed to find buyers for his unsold tractors. Still, he decided to retire early and sold the remaining 49% of his Automobili Lamborghini shares. But he did keep a heating company that he owned and gave it to his son, Tonino. Later, Tonino pivoted towards building a successful fashion and luxury business under the family name. Meanwhile, the new owners of Automobili Lamborghini tried to revive its brand but failed. Afterward, the company was forced into liquidation. A few years later, the Italian government sold it for Ferruccio was born on a farm in the rural town of Renazzo in Northern Italy.

His parents grew grapes to make wine for a living and raised him amongst their vineyards. They taught him to roll up his sleeves and have the drive to make quality products. Ferruccio took their lessons to heart but not in the way that they had hoped for or imagined. He was more interested in fixing their tractors than learning how to manage the farm.

Along with being disappointing million to two French billionaires. They hoped to renovate the old Lamborghini facilities and hire new engineers. But they ran out of money and sold the company to Chrysler. Chrysler made plans to import the brand into the U.S. but failed to make a profit. So they sold the company to an Indonesian conglomerate. While they had more luck in making sales, it wasn't enough to weather the financial crisis in Asia. It was then that Audi bought the company and recognized the need for greater attention to processes and product quality. Under their leadership, Lamborghini was able to meet the challenges of the 21st century and take back its place in the market. With the release of the Gallardo, Huracan, and Urus SUV concept, sales jumped across the world — especially in the U.S. In 2019, Lamborghini reported record sales and is now valued at he opened a workshop with his longtime friend billion. This is the story of how a farmer and prisoner of war turned his tractor business into a sports car empire. 


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