Learn the history of Lamborghini and find out about its makes and models.
When the first Lamborghini models entered the market in the mid-1960s, it was clear that Italian car-maker Ferrari had a new competitor. In fact, Automobili Lamborghini SpA's Web site literature still alludes to the rivalry, "The Lamborghini story is told rapidly: The others weren't good enough."
Lamborghini -- the company and the car -- has been through many changes and a few owners since, but the car's impact as a status symbol, performance automobile and leader in the high-end sports car arena hasn't waned. A "pared-down" Lamborghini can cost at least $200,000 and remains a distinguishing mark of style for the sports car connoisseur.
The classic Lamborghinis belong in a category of automobile known as "super cars", a hybrid between small, fast sports cars and larger, heavier grand touring cars. The Lamborghini delivers engine performance, interior comfort and exterior style.
Ferruccio Lamborghini made his fortune converting surplus military machines into tractors when Italy suffered from post-war shortages in the 1940s. After achieving additional financial successes in the heating and air-conditioning industries, Lamborghini turned his attention to improving upon the Ferrari sports car.
He founded Automobili Lamborghini SpA in 1963 in Sant’Agata, Bologna, Italy. His first “Grand Touring,” or GT model, the 350GT, made its debut at the Turin Auto Show. It wasn’t until five years and several models later that the Miura catapulted Lamborghini onto the world stage of luxury sports car makers.
During the following decades, ownership of Automobili Lamborghini SpA changed hands several times. Ferruccio Lamborghini’s finances took a nosedive in the 1970s and a Swiss industrialist bought controlling interest in the company. During the ‘80s, Lamborghini re-launched the Countach model, complete with new styling, and it was an immediate success. Chrysler acquired the company in 1987, but sold it just seven years later to Megatech and two other Far Eastern companies. Then in 1998, Volkswagen AG bought Lamborghini, and the German-Italian alliance has produced a number of “hits” since, including the Diablo, Murcielago and Gallardo.
Automobili Lamborghini SpA’s emblem is the Raging Bull, symbolizing the power and fierceness of the super cars. The models listed below are each named after a bull that achieved fame in the bullfighting ring.
The first of Ferruccio Lamborghini’s super cars to truly capture the attention of car aficionados worldwide, the original Miura could reach speeds of up to 174 mph. The car was the first of its kind to feature a transversely mid-mounted engine, and its lines were inspired by the Ford GT-40. Although it was a hit, the Miura had several problems: It was crowded for two people, the trunk space was practically absent, and at high speeds it suffered a severe front lift. Several years later, Lamborghini came out with an S model, and eventually the final evolution of the Miura, the SV, in 1971.
In 1973, the first prototype of the Lamborghini Countach was shown at the Geneva Auto Show. Production of the LP400 began the following year, and the first Countaches were never matched for speed with subsequent incarnations (the LP400S, LP500S, LP500 QuattroValvole and 25th Anniversario).
The Diablo succeeded the highly prized Countach, premiering in January 1990 in Monte Carlo. With a high speed of more than 200 mph, the Diablo was faster but also more practical than its predecessor. During the next 11 years, 2,903 Diablos were produced.
The Murcielago’s v12, 640-horsepower engine packed a punch. Reaching speeds of 211 mph, the model was introduced in 2001. After a redesign in 2007, the model was introduced as the Murcielago LP640. The Murcielago is available in coup or convertible, and it’s possible, with this model, to spend $60,000 on extras.
First unveiled in a spectacular ceremony at the base of the Etna volcano in September 2001, the Murciélago introduced a new era of design. Former Audi designer Luc Donckerwolcke had completely revamped the popular Diablo, including a 6.2-liter V12 engine. The Murciélago featured the first standard six-speed gearbox in Lamborghini history.
The 2009 Murciélago carries a base price tag of $382,400 for the convertible is and the coupe model starts at $354,000. Since its introduction in 2001, more than 3,000 Murciélagos have been produced. The 3,000th was completed in January 2008, and at an estimated three-car-per-day production rate, the 4,000th unit should hit the streets by January 2009.
Gallardo, the “little brother” of the Murcielago, is considered an entry-level Lamborghini. The Gallardo comes in three styles: the Spyder, the Superleggera and the LP560-4. The Spyder was introduced in 2005 and is the only convertible model of the Gallardo. It was voted “The World’s Most Beautiful Car,” in 2006 by the Triennale di Milano, an Italian institution devoted to industrial design. The powerful LP560, released in 2008, puts out 560 Bhp. Previous incarnations of the Gallardo, like the Superlegga, Nera and SE are no longer in production.
Introduced in 2007, the Reventón was unveiled at the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, featuring a 6.5-L engine and an output of 650 Bhp. Only 20 Reventón models were scheduled to be produced for sale in its initial year.
In addition to the aforementioned cars, there are a number of other Lamborghinis, past and present, created as classic GTs, like the Islero, Jarama and Espada series. Several cars featuring a V8 engine, such as the Urraco, Silhouette and Jalpa, were also quite popular.