The 1963 Lamborghini 350GTV is proof that Lambo is more Lambo now than ever
What started as a feud between Enzo and Ferruccio turned into a company which would struggle through life but turn out an incredible highlight reel.
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Ever since I was a young boy I have had an obsession with Lamborghini's and although I have never had the pleasure to own one, I've seen them up close, sat in them and still turn into a child every time. That is the beauty of Lamborghini in that they, like the 2010 movie Rubber, an homage to the ridiculous or at least they were in the 80's and 90's. Since then they've been more refined and efficient under their new German overlords. This has caused a lot of people to say that VW ownership has turned them into Audi's with a bull on the hood but I could not disagree more. That refinement and performance, placed inside a car that is incredibly beautiful to look at, is their DNA. It is what Ferruccio would have wanted his car to become and there is no better way to explain this than to look at the first ever car he produced and its history, the Lamborghini 350 GTV.
Prior to starting Lamborghini as we know it today, Ferruccio Lamborghini was a wealthy manufacturing magnate who primarily built tractors. As he wealth grew he purchased a Ferrari 250 GT but soon found that he wasn't happy with the build quality and after many trips to Ferrari to get the car fixed he decided to take the issue up with Enzo Ferrari himself who shrugged him off. Ferruccio decided he would get his own back by trying to make an even better car than Ferrari and also soon realised that his mechanical production line for tractors would be more profitable if they built engines for performance focused exotic cars.
He decided that he had two major goals, one was to beat Enzo at his own game and the second was to prove you could build a sports car just as good as Ferrari's without sacrificing reliability, ride quality or handling. In order to hit the first goal of beating Ferrari he decided that his car must have a 3.5 liter V12 so as to be more powerful than the Ferrari 250 GT's 3.0 liter and he aptly called the car the 350 GTV. The GT stood for Grand Touring and the V for "Veloce" which is Italian for fast.
Only the best would be allowed for the new cars designed and to acheive this he went to Franco Scaglione to get the car designed, a legendary designer who had worked with Fiat, Jaguar and Alfa-Romeo in the past, as well as Ferrari. He requested that Scaglione echo the Jaguar E-Type at the front of the car and an Aston Martin DB4 at the back and when the design was finally ready it was sent to Carrozzeria Sargiotto in Turin to be built. They did an incredible job of designing the car and it had some features which were extremely rare at the time such as pop-up headlamps and six exhausts, three on each side, but it was incredibly pretty.
Ferruccio knew that looks weren't enough to make an incredible automobile and he then commissioned Giotto Bizzarrini to develop the engine for the new car. Bizzarrini was the man behind the engine in the 250 GTO "bizzarriniliy"...bizarre...oh it doesn't matter. The point is he did an incredible job with the engine. The 3.5 liter V12 produced 342 bhp and 240 lb-ft of torque, this gave it a theoretical top speed of 170 mph, although this model was never tested to those speeds. He pared this with a 5 speed manual transmission and the Lamborghini V12 was born, an engine which would live on all the way through to the end of the Lamborghini Murciélago in 2010, over 50 years later.
Interestingly though, the 350 GTV would never drive using this engine as the engineers realised it wouldn't fit inside the body that was built, so given this was primarily a show car for Ferruccio, he had the engine ballasted with bricks and the bonnet sealed shut during the Turin Auto Show.
The prototype was unveiled at the 1963 Turin Auto Show and garnered a lot of attention from the press, not all of it positive, but it didn't matter. An automotive legend was born in the brand Lamborghini. Ferruccio was unhappy with some of the aspects of the GTV and didn't like the tuning of the engine so the body was restyled and the engine de-tuned to 270 bhp to make it better on the road. Thus in 1964 the first production Lamborghini came to life in the 350 GT.
To harp back to my original point, it is my strong opinion that since starting my YouTube channel and my journey here writing on Drivetribe, and after deep diving more into the history of companies like Lamborghini that the company now is more akin to what Ferruccio wanted than the Diablo or Countach ever were. They were incredible bedroom wallpapers that I adored as a kid and without them Lamborghini probably wouldn't have been saved by Chrysler and then again by VW but I'm glad that in cars like the Aventador that the VW group has managed to keep the madness in terms of its looks and performance while bringing back the incredible engineering and comfort of use that Ferruccio wanted to introduce to seperate himself from Enzo all of those years ago.
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