Could it be true? Rumour has it that self-made Italian industrialist Ferruccio Lamborghini had trouble with his Ferrari, complained to old Enzo personally and was brusquely rebuffed by Il Commendatore. Suitably insulted, he decided to try and geld the Prancing Horse by creating a sharp new breed of performance cars.
True or not, Lamborghini certainly did produce glamorous cars that undoubtedly went on to hijack many sales from Ferrari.
The first offering from the new factory at Santa’Agata was the Lambo 350 GT of 1964, a dashing two-seater coupe with a superb V12 engine designed by (poke, poke) ex-Ferrari engineer Giotto Bizzarrini. Better still, youthful Lamborghini boss Giampaolo Dallara had worked for both Ferrari and Maserati, giving him impeccable supercar credentials. The result of their joint effort must have come as a nasty surprise to Maranello when it appeared at the Geneva Motor Show in March ’64, for the somewhat angular prototype seen the previous year had been rounded off by Carrozzeria Touring and the sleek debutant looked very sexy.
It was also a sensational performer, with the magnificent engine delivering brutal acceleration and an awesome top speed. The ride was good, with independent suspension all round, roadholding was tenacious and power-assisted Girling disc brakes stopped it efficiently from high speed. After a slowish start the word got out, and production of the 350 GT grew rapidly through ’65 and into ’66.
That year Lamborghini introduced the 400 GT — essentially an improved version of the earlier car with a larger engine — and after a period of co-production in 1966-67 the 400 GT had a year on its own before being replaced by the Islero. These special GTs represented an auspicious start to Ferruccio Lamborghini’s bold new venture, which would go from strength to strength.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1964 (until 1967)
3,464 cc DOHC V12
Top speed of 156 mph (251 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.4 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
If anyone doubts the story of Ferruccio Lamborghini’s slighting by Enzo Ferrari, the former’s intentions in setting up his manufacturing operation may perhaps be judged by his choice of badge for the Lambo- the Rampant Bull.