Ferruccio Lamborghini led the latest group of honourees inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
He was joined by female racing pioneer Lyn St James, The Green Book creators Alma and Victor Green, Toyota engineer and executive Taiichi Ohno and Chinese entrepreneur Lu Guanqiu.
The Hall of Fame, which is based in Michigan, hailed Lamborghini as “an entrepreneur who created the iconic Lamborghini line of luxury performance sports cars. First finding success manufacturing tractors, Lamborghini’s attention to detail led his team’s delivery of cutting-edge, mid-engine supercars like the Miura and Countach.”
Ferruccio Lamborghini was an engineer who got his start in business building tractors but decided to move into building cars when he reportedly clashed with Enzo Ferrari over the quality of the cars produced in Maranello.
Ferruccio is quoted as saying in 1963: “In the past I have bought some of the most famous gran turismo cars and in each of these magnificent machines I have found some faults. Too hot, or uncomfortable, or not sufficiently fast or not perfectly finished. Now I want to make a G.T. car without faults. Not a technical bomb. Very normal, very conventional, but a perfect car.”
Switching his focus from tractors to sports cars, the Lamborghini name soon became synonymous with performance. The 1963 350 GT was the brand’s first car, with the chassis drawn up by Gian Paolo Dallara and the V12 engine built by an ex-Ferrari designer.
By 1967 Lamborghini launched the iconic Miura and the brand really took off. Under Ferruccio’s watch Lamborghini produced some of its most famous models including the Espada, Jarama Urraco and Countach.
Ultimately financial troubles forced him to sell but by then Automobili Lamborghini was one of the most famous names in performance cars.
Of the other inductees, Lyn St James was the woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award; Taiichi Ohno developed the famous Toyota Production System (TPS) that has helped it become an automotive global leader; Alma and Victor Green wrote and published The Green Book, which was a guide for Black Americans to travel safely during the time of segregation.