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Made To Make You Say “WOW”

Published 4 years ago
By Forbes Africa

If you can’t find one in the metal, take a look at a picture of a 2003 Lamborghini Gallardo. Well over a decade later, it will still take your breath away with its daring design. It’s a moving tribute to Belgian designer, Luc Donckerwolke, who was in his thirties at the time.

While you’re at it go back to the Turin Motor Show in 1965 and the launch of the Miura – the car that made Lamborghini legendary. It didn’t have an engine yet, but that chassis was simply way ahead of its time.

It was proudly displayed by the founder, Ferruccio Lamborghini, himself. The former tractor mechanic was subtly giving Enzo Ferrari the middle finger.

Ferruccio’s story, no doubt fabricated over the years, is the clichéd movie script of rags to riches. He is posted to the island of Rhodes during World War II and becomes a wizard at repairing cars, trucks and motorbikes with extremely limited resources.

Returning home, he finds a desperate need for tractors on the farms around Modena and builds one a month using derelict military vehicles. Ferruccio becomes a prosperous businessman and sports car enthusiast. But he has a slight clutch problem with his Ferrari 250 GT and pulls into Enzo’s factory nearby.

Lamborghini Hurácan, interior view

According to legend (which I believe entirely), Enzo dismisses the tractor trader and the bruised Mr Lambo sets out to build his own car with a V12 engine. Just a few years later the 350 GT is born to public acclaim.

But despite shocking the world with the revolutionary Countach in the early seventies, the wicked witch of bankruptcy was hovering around the next corner. A huge tractor order went sour, there were problems with the workforce and Fiat took over the car factory.

And that was just the start of juggling with this rather glamorous hot potato. Lamborghini was passed from a wealthy Canadian to ambitious Swiss brothers – then to the Chrysler Corporation and, in 1994, to the well-heeled Suharto family from Indonesia.

Finally, after a complex series of negotiations, Audi AG became the sole owners of Automobili Lamborghini on August 4, 1998. Similar to many of the previous takeovers, renewed energy and a cash injection resulted in a stunning new model – the flagship Murcielago. Yes, they do find exotic names – mostly after fighting bulls!

So, how are they doing financially this time around? Just great judging by 2015 figures. Global supercar sales soared 28% to 3,245 units. Turnover from $707 million to $980 million. And all future projects are financed out of cash-flow.

“In 2015 we achieved business growth for the fifth year in a row and historic heights with key figures,” says President and CEO, Stephan Winkelmann.

“We have also made wide-reaching strategic decisions that will facilitate the company’s mid and long-term success in global luxury automobile markets.”

It was really the Gallardo, the top selling Lambo with 14,022 rolling off the production line, that set the wheels in motion to boost the company. It even got the Jeremy Clarkson seal of approval.

“So while the Ferrari howls and a McLaren hums, the Lambo bellows. And while the racers were styled by aerodynamicists, the Lambo was designed to make people say ‘wow’. On your deathbed, you’ll remember a drive you took in it. And you’ll go through the Pearly Gates smiling.”

Radical stuff.  But you may get the idea that there was just a touch of pressure in bringing out the replacement after 11 years.

And the fighting spirit of the late Ferruccio has been embodied in the new Huracán.

There is a simple formula for the new generation of sports cars. Smaller Engine + Turbo + New Tech = Better Performance + Better Consumption + Reduced Emissions.

The Huracán ignores it. The mid-mounted naturally-aspirated V10 engine remains, along with stratified fuel injection. Or if you would like the formal Italian description: Iniezione Diretta Stratificata or IDS.

That may not mean much until you have pushed the ignition button and get thrown back into the low and firm sports seats (in a choice of 13 color combinations), which amazingly can accommodate a lanky 1.98-meter frame.

It’s the performance you would expect from a supercar with a basic price tag of $368,000. The Ferrari 488 GTB will do it, so will the McLaren 570S. They all hover around the 3-second mark, although the owners may argue about the defining decimal point.

According to Lamborghini’s South African Brand Manager, David Tarry-Smith, there is more emotion and character in driving a Huracán – which may seem like flimsy factors to motivate a substantial buying decision, even if it is the only four-wheel drive in this segment.

But the more brutal ride does seem to have caught the imagination of the red-blooded male. “Worldwide only three percent of our Lamborghini owners are women,” says Tarry-Smith.

And that statistic, according to an article in Reuters Lifestyle, could be costly for all high-performance carmakers. With the number of financially independent women on the rise, a potentially big market is being neglected.

“Any woman can drive those cars,” says 76-year-old Sonja Heiniger, the Swiss owner of an internet services firm.

She goes against the odds, owning four Lamborghinis and hitting the race track in a Porsche! Her latest acquisition is a $375,000 Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale special edition in “Rosso Mars” red.

Right now, that doesn’t seem to be impacting sales of the Huracán. More than 4,500 have already been shipped from the Bolognese headquarters with the chassis being assembled by Audi in Germany. In fact, the new R8 also shares a similar power train.

You will also find that the parent company has been a guiding light with the superbly refined instrumentation. A virtual dashboard in a single screen with all functions integrated.

The design is ruled by hexagons (apparently inspired by the carbon atom) and the shape is found everywhere from the air vents to the red cover of the stop/start button.

But it’s the shape of the new contender that will have all eyes trained on you from the outside. It retains the Gallardo DNA but with cleaner, precise and more modern lines. All designed to “fend the air and tame the road.”

The South African allocation for this year is a mere 30 units and all have been signed up. But, with a deposit of around $37,000, you can hop on the list for next year. The wait will be around six months.

If you are a family man who fancies the raging bull emblem, all is not lost. Porsche proved that a sporty SUV can be a top seller and the Lamborghini Urus is around the corner. It will be turbo-charged with a hybrid option and there is the objective of being the fastest SUV on the planet – although it may not go too far off-road!

Winkelmann is aiming at selling 3,000 units a year – which would almost double Lamborghini sales.

The little town of Sant’Agata in northern Italy, with a population of 7,283, is destined for a shake-up.

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Related Topics: #Belgian, #design, #February 2017, #Lamborghini Gallardo, #Mechanic, #V12 Engine.