What does a wealthy Italian tractor manufacturer do when he’s not happy with the Ferrari 250GT that sits on his drive? He makes his own sports car, of course.
Legend has it that Ferruccio Lamborghini’s spiky spat with Enzo Ferrari, who told his customer to stick to making tractors when he pointed out the car’s shortcomings, directly led the industrialist forming Automobili Lamborghini in 1963 and taking Enzo on at his own game. The truth may be less dramatic – that serial entrepreneur Lamborghini simply thought he could make money making cars…
Not only that, but Lamborghini poached three of Ferrari’s top technicians to work on the car that would become the 350GT in a new factory just a few miles from the Prancing Horse’s Maranello headquarters.
A strikingly rakish, low-slung fastback, the 350GT aimed to provide greater creature comforts and refinement for road users than many of its race-bred supercar predecessors.
Lamborghini was determined to beat Ferrari on quality and road manners, and the end result was a car that was comfortable and quiet enough to be a grand tourer, but fast enough, thanks to a 3,464cc V-12 engine producing a top speed of 158mph, to be a true supercar too.
Built at a new factory at Sant’Agata, the 350GT bears little resemblance to the Lamborghinis that followed, but without it we’d never have had the lineage of outrageous supercars it spawned.
The car, an updated version of the earlier concept 350GTV that never made production, received a good reception at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1964, and the first buyers of the 131 examples made took delivery later that year.
Clothed by Touring of Milan using their Superleggera technique, the stunning coachwork and luxurious interior using high-grade materials wooed some of Italy’s leading motoring sportsmen into buying.
The first car to bear the now legendary bull badge was superseded by the 400GT after three years, but it remains a hugely important, not to mention aesthetically arresting, motor car.