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April 29th, 2016

100 years ago on April 28, 1916 one of the most iconic men to reshape the history of automobiles was born. Ferruccio Lamborghini, born in a family of viniculturists grew up around farming and farming equipment. But unlike the rest of the family, this man had a growing passion for the machinery around rather than farming itself. Today we know Ferruccio for one of the greatest automotive marques that he has created and given to the world. But before the man would gain popularity as such, and even before he would setup his hugely successful business of creating farm tractors (which gave him the cash flow to develop Lamborghini), Ferruccio’s inspiration and love for fast Automobiles came from a rather modest 500cc car.

Fiat Topolino

The 500cc Fiat Topolino, now known as the Fiat 500 was manufactured between 1936 – 1955. Image: Fiat

After the Second World War, Ferruccio Lamborghini opened a small garage 25 km from Bologna in a district of Cento. Here, in his spare time Lamborghini would tinker around with a Fiat Topolino, the predecessor to the Fiat 500. Lamborghini wanted to create a fast car that he could compete in motorsports. Soon Ferruccio increased the car’s stock 500cc four-cylinder liquid-cooled engine to 750cc while hacking the top off creating a roaring and admirably beautiful open-top two-seater roadster that he could take racing. In the year 1948, Lamborghini entered the Topolino roadster that he had created in the Milli Miglia. Unfortunately, while at 700 miles (1,100km) of race distance, Ferruccio crashed the car into the side of a restaurant in Turin, ending his competition dreams.

While the humble little Fiat Topolino started Ferruccio Lamborghini’s dream to race and become associated with performance motoring, it also drowned his enthusiasm from motorsports completely.

Throughout the later years Lamborghini was a man with a passionate eye for speed and performance, he would never want to associate himself with motorsport again. His vision was for a perfect grand touring car for the roads that was well-appointed, comfortable and powerful all at the same time. So when Giotto Bizzarini, an ex-Ferrari engineer developed and designed a new high-revving, dry-sump lubricated 3.5-litre V12 for use in his own cars, Lamborghini was displeased with its performance, deeming it too racy for road use.Eventually, Bizzarini’s V12 which originally produced 360bhp would be detuned to 280bhp to make its character a more “well-mannered” one. The detuned V12 would find its place in Lamborghini’s first GT car – the 1963 Lamborghini 350GT which would go on to get positive reviews from the press and sell a total of 120 cars in a period of two years.

Lamborghini 350Gt

The 350GT was Lamborghini’s first production car. Image: Lamborghini

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