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The Counterblow

“It’s not the car’s problem, but the driver’s…….. You may be able to drive a tractor.”
Enzo Anselmo Ferrari had said this to Ferruccio Lamborghini when he came to know about the latter’s problem. At that time, Enzo was the boss of the world’s leading automobile company – Ferrari. For both of them, it was a matter of self-respect.

Enzo Anselmo Ferrari

The middle of the 20th Century……. The Ferrari sports car was ruling the world, although it was very costly. “Car lover” Lamborghini had various expensive cars, including Jaguar and Mercedes Benz, in his garage. One day, Lamborghini – who used to ride one car in a week – purchased a Ferrari sports car. However, he was not happy with the new one, as he found that the clutch was not working smoothly. Lamborghini decided to meet Enzo and to inform him about some potential improvements the entrepreneur could make to the ride of the Ferrari. However, the Italian motor racing driver insulted Lamborghini, saying that he didn’t need any help from a ‘tractor manufacturer’.

Ferruccio Lamborghini

Born to grape farmers in Renazzo, Lamborghini had no interest in farming. Rather, he was interested in the equipment used in farming. After completing his study at the Fratelli Taddia Technical Institute near Bologna, he joined the Italian Royal Air Force, where he served as a mechanic at the Italian garrison on Rhodes Island. Lamborghini was taken as prisoner when the island fell to the British at the end of the WWII in 1945. He managed to return home in 1946, and his wife died while giving birth to their first child – Tonino – in 1947.
Later, Lamborghini opened a garage in Pieve di Cento and started repairing two-wheelers and cars. However, he was not satisfied with his venture. Taking advantage of the emerging market in post-WWII Italy, he built the first of his ‘Carioca’ tractors by using parts from military vehicle engines. Lamborghini realised that there was a demand for tractors in an agriculture-based economy, like Italy. Gradually, Carioca became a popular model in the European country. Keeping in mind the skyrocketing patrol prices in post-War Italy, he started using the Morris engines with a fuel atomiser of his own creation. The engine allowed the tractors to be started with petrol and then switch to diesel. Lamborghini’s success boosted his confidence.

The Lamborghini Factory

Even after being insulted by Enzo on that day, Lamborghini didn’t say anything to the founder of the Ferrari automobile marquee. He built a car-manufacturing factory in Sant’Agata. And three former Ferrari employees – Jeeto Bizzarrini, Franco Shagelion and Jan Paolo Dallara – joined hands with Lamborghini. Within four months, they managed to build ‘Lamborghini 350 GTV’ that was presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show. It is to be noted that Lamborghini 350 GTV was a Lamborghini prototype and forerunner of its first production model, the ‘350 GT’. Despite suffering losses, Lamborghini decided to keep the price of the car lower than the Ferrari and sold 120 cars in just two years.
Even before his 50th birthday, Lamborghini became wealthier than Enzo, the man who had insulted him. Later, he set up an industrial hub in Italy. The ‘successful’ entrepreneur didn’t forget his past. There was a grapevine inside his estate in Umbria where he pursued winemaking after his retirement in the late 1970s.

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