The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (2023)

Published 2021-02-12 by Peter Ternström

The year is 1963. Ferruccio Lamborghini, a successful tractor manufacturer, is unhappy with his Ferrari. He thinks the car's clutch breaks too easily. He drives to the neighbouring village of Maranello and knocks on the door of none other than Enzo Ferrari.

The meeting, which was quite short, would change the fate of supercars forever. It would be a textbook example of how to not treat your customers. Mr Lamborghini explained that the clutch was bad. He also made a suggestion on what Mr Ferrari, with simple means, could do for the clutch to last much longer.

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (1)

Enzo Ferrari had a very hard time accepting constructive criticism. Instead of listening to the proposal, he rejects Ferruccio with the now-famous words:

“Let me make cars. You stick to making tractors.” - Enzo Ferrari

Ferruccio drove home. Furious. Instead of being well received for his ideas, he had been rejected in the worst possible way. The insult was painful. Really bad. He was also an engineer. His tractors were the best in Italy.

On the way home, he made a fateful decision. He would also build sports cars. And – they would be faster and better than Enzo Ferrari's. Lamborghini, as we know it, was born.

The work started immediately. In just four months, a small factory was built – in Sant'Agata – and the first car model saw the light of day. The car was presented at the annual car show in Turin 1964 and was called the Lamborghini 350 GT.

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (2)

Lamborghini 350 GT

How could Lamborghini build and finish a car in just four months? There was an explanation. Two years earlier, something important happened in Maranello. Something that would be absolutely crucial to Ferruccio Lamborghini's success. Five gentlemen had stepped into Enzo Ferrari's office in Maranello. Among others, Carlo Chiti who was the chief engineer, and legendary development manager Giotto Bizzarrini.

They were unhappy that Enzo's wife, Laura Ferrari, was making important decisions on the factory floor. They wanted Laura to stop messing about in the production.

Enzo Ferrari was furious. Instead of correcting his wife's behaviour, all five key people got fired on the spot. These five immediately started a competing business in Bologna – a design agency for racing and sports cars called ATS.

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (3)

Engine blocks for the Countach and the marine division.

When Ferrari asked Lamborghini to stick to building tractors, and not try to give him any suggestions on how to improve Ferrari's products, Lamborghini approached these five gentlemen. The five former key people at Ferrari could then, very quickly, build a car for Lamborghini.

The first car – the 350 GT – is quite well received. 13 customers buy the car right away. Over the next two years, a total of 120 cars will be built. These cars are priceless today.

The 350 GT was a slow and cautious start. This car hardly worried Ferrari. But in 1965 it was time for a car show in Turin again. Now things became completely different. For here came the car that would shake up the world of supercars completely. Including Ferrari. The car that would, seriously, put Lamborghini on the map.

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (4)

Lamborghini Miura

The car was revolutionary. Inspired by F1, the engineers had put the engine behind the driver. It became the first production car with the engine in the centre of the car. It was called Lamborghini Miura and immediately became a success. Finally, Mr Ferruccio had the car he wanted to take on Enzo Ferrari with, after that horrible meeting in Maranello.

Miura was put into production in 1967. A total of 764 cars were built until production was ended in 1973. At the same time, Jarama and Urraco were built.

The beginning of the 70s would not end well, unfortunately. The oil crisis came to say hello. The world was sent down in a spiral of economic disaster. The supercar market shrank by 80 per cent in just a year. Although work on the legendary Countach had begun, Ferruccio Lamborghini was forced to sell his company.

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (5)

Ferruccio Lamborghini and a Countach

Ferruccio Lamborghini completely stops building cars and tractors. Instead, he retires to his mansion on Lake Trasimeno in Umbria. Where he starts a small production of wine. Later, a hotel with a restaurant and a golf course is also built. The place is called Tenuta Lamborghini and exists today.

However, the new owners of the factory continue. After some time, on to the stage comes the car that many, including myself, had on a poster in their rooms growing up. It was the coolest and most futuristic thing the world had ever seen. The car looked like a spaceship and came to define the brand forever – the Lamborghini Countach.

Like the Miura, the engine was in the centre, behind the driver. But now it was longitudinally mounted. The design was from outer space. The doors opened upwards! No one had seen anything like it. The name “Countach”? It is pronounced coon-tasch and simply means "wow" in Italian.

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (6)

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (7)

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (8)

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (9)

Factory pictures by Bengt Holm - James Holm's father, who also was an automotive photographer

The car that was put into production had a four-litre V12 and was called the LP400. It had a total of 375 horsepower, astonishingly high power output in those times. Over the entire life cycle of the model, which would last for a total of 16 years, over 2,000 units would be manufactured. The last variant, built between 1988 and 1990, had a 5.2 litre V12 that produced 455 horsepower. That project was led by none other than Horacio Pagani, who, at the time, worked for Lamborghini.

In the meantime, Lamborghini went bankrupt and changed owners twice. In the wake of the oil crisis, the money runs out at the end of 1978. The company goes bankrupt and is bought by two Swissbrothers with the last name Mimran in 1980.

These two run the company with some success for ten years. In 1987 the company was sold to Chrysler. The Mimran brothers make a lot of money buying the bankrupt estate, refining the company and then selling it to the huge American corporation.

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The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (11)

In 1990, the replacement for Countach was launched. This car would also be designed by the legendary Marcello Gandini. Lamborghini Diablo. When it came, it was the fastest car in the world. Like the Countach, it had a large mid-mounted V12 behind the driver. The early cars had a 5.7-litre engine. Later variants had 6 litres. During the ten years the car is manufactured, almost 3 000 units roll off the production line. At the same time, the company changes owners three more times (!). First to a corporate group in Indonesia, and then to a Malaysian investment company.

At the end of 1998, the turbulence around the ownership would be settled for good. The powerful AUDI AG buys Lamborghini for $110 million. AUDI immediately launches a program to restructure and modernize Lamborghini. As a consequence, the last two year models of Diablo 2000 and 2001 are of a significantly higher quality than previous cars. Above all, the difference between dashboards and interiors is noticeable. At the same time, work on a "baby Lambo" continues – what would later become Gallardo.

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Lamborghini Murcielago

In 2001, the first Lamborghini will be built entirely under the supervision of AUDI – Lamborghini Murcielago. It came to be built in over 4,000 units over ten years in many versions. This is 25% more cars than Diablo.

Almost simultaneously, in 2003, Lamborghini Gallardo is launched. Gallardo was a more simple car than Murcielago. It had a V10 and not as spectacular a design. Among other things, the doors were opened outwards, as on a regular car, instead of upwards as on big brother Murcielago. In addition, the car was about half as expensive. It was still very much a supercar, with an exotic brand, but with simpler design and construction.

Gallardo became an unparalleled success in the world of supercars. An incredible 14,000 (!) cars were built during the car's ten-year product life cycle, in a dozen different variants. Gallardo became the model that took Lamborghini from being a small brand on the periphery to a supercar manufacturer to be reckoned with.

The car was mass-produced and many components were sourced from AUDI, for both good and bad. Many thought it was a bit sad that some cockpit details also were used in AUDI cars, like the RS6.

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (13)

Lamborghini Gallardo

However, what the new car lacked in exclusivity, it gained in quality. Many times over. Having German engineers who built engines and powertrain made the car extremely reliable. Today, many Gallardos are on the roads with over 150,000 km without any problems. Something that would have been completely unthinkable just 10 years ago for a Lamborghini Diablo or Countach.

Murcielago was replaced in 2011 with the Aventador. In 2014 Gallardo was replaced with the Huracan. Today it is these two cars, and the Lamborghini Urus, that roll off the assembly line at the factory complex in Sant'Agata.

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“Lamborghini is refinement, luxury and perfection” - Ferruccio Lamborghini

“Enzo Ferrari never spoke to me again. He is a great man, I admit, but it was incredibly easy to upset him” - Ferruccio Lamborghini

“Mechanics was in my blood and I knew I could beat Ferrari” - Ferruccio Lamborghini

“The race went like a dream for three quarters of the competition, then we ran off the road” - Ferruccio Lamborghini

“When you stop working you start to die” - Ferruccio Lamborghini

“You don't mess with a farmer” - Ferruccio Lamborghini

Besides making cars, Ferruccio Lamborghini produced many amazing quotes. We are unsure whether the above is true or not, but they are simply too good not to share here.


>> The Aventador successor is here - here is what we know.

>> Join us for a road trip on Sardinia in 2023. A Ferrari or Lamborghini is included.

>> Gran Turismo Italia 2023. A week on the best roads in Italy.

>> A look at the new Lamborghini Sterrato.

The epic story behind the Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry (15)

Peter Ternström


How did the rivalry between Lamborghini and Ferrari start? ›

Lamborghini made a fortune building tractors and loved driving his Ferrari cars. But after being snubbed by Ferrari – who disregarded Lamborghini's complaints about the car's reliability – he started his own company, which made its debut at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show with the alluring 350 GT.

Is Ferrari and Lamborghini rivalry? ›

One of the more famous sports car rivalries is the one between Ferrari and Lamborghini. Both companies produce excellent vehicles in their own right, but, as with any brand, some people are loyal to one over the other. Of the two, Ferrari has a longer history, the Coke to Lamborghini's Pepsi, as it were.

Is Lamborghini Ferrari story true? ›

Ferrari vs Lamborghini is one of the motor industry's great rivalries, one that started over an argument about a 10-lira tractor clutch. This is the astonishing true story of one of the most famous rows in history - Enzo Ferrari vs Ferruccio Lamborghini. The Lamborghini versus Ferrari history is fascinating.

What is the story behind Ferrari? ›

Ferrari S.p.A. (/fəˈrɑːri/; Italian: [ferˈraːri]) is an Italian luxury sports car manufacturer based in Maranello, Italy. Founded by Enzo Ferrari (1898–1988) in 1939 from the Alfa Romeo racing division as Auto Avio Costruzioni, the company built its first car in 1940, and produced its first Ferrari-badged car in 1947.

Why do people prefer Lamborghini over Ferrari? ›

Lamborghini offers a similar semi-automatic transmission to Ferrari, but if you prefer to drive a manual, you should also go for a Lamborghini. Finally, Lamborghini produces less vehicles overall than Ferrari. The exclusivity of driving a Lamborghini will make your car stand out, even among other supercars.

What did Lamborghini fix about Ferrari? ›

Ferruccio had two Ferraris, but when he couldn't race the locals because his clutch gave out, he went to Modena with an idea for a solution instead of just to complain—Ferruccio used a clutch from one of the tractors as a replacement.

What is the biggest car rivalry? ›

10 of History's Most Heated Automaker Rivalries
  • Ford vs. Ferrari.
  • BMW vs. Mercedes Benz.
  • Bentley vs. Rolls-Royce.
  • Jaguar vs. Aston Martin.
  • Bugatti vs. Koenigsegg.
  • Mitsubishi vs. Subaru.
  • Volkswagen vs. Peugeot.
  • Holden vs. Ford.
Feb 15, 2023

Did Lamborghini and Ferrari get along? ›

It is said that the real driving force in Ferruccio Lamborghini founding his automobile factory was an animated discussion he had with Enzo Ferrari. After all, both are known to have had a temper on them during their lifetimes, and some temper it was!

Who is Lamborghini's rival? ›

The Ferrari vs. Lamborghini rivalry is legendary, having spanned decades and a tremendous suite of sports cars from both exotic automakers.

What did the owner of Ferrari say to Lamborghini? ›

"Enzo Ferrari told him: 'You are a tractor driver, you are a farmer. You shouldn't complain driving my cars because they're the best cars in the world. ' " This only infuriated Lamborghini, who became equally agitated and animated.

What car is the Ferrari killer? ›

The Ferrari Killer. The 8 Series E31 was introduced in 1989 to replace the 6 Series which had been in production from 1976 to 1989, and was already an obsolete model, and sales were declining.

What happened to Lamborghini's friend? ›

Ferruccio returned to his roots in farming in Umbria, Italy. He was heartbroken that he couldn't continue to work with Lamborghini automobiles, which he had created with his innovative thinking and hard labor. So it appeared that he had to give in to Ferrari, as evidenced by the car race.

What is the story behind Lamborghini? ›

Manufacturing magnate Italian Ferruccio Lamborghini founded the company in 1963 with the objective of producing a refined grand touring car to compete with offerings from established marques such as Ferrari. The company's first models, such as the 350 GT, were released in the mid-1960s.

Is A Lamborghini the same as a Ferrari? ›

The Lamborghini trademark is its upward swinging doors. Ferraris feature more curves and are shaped to be more aerodynamic. Ferraris have a softer, smoother design while Lamborghinis are more 'in your face'. The two supercars also differ when it comes to the interior.

What is better Lamborghini or Ferrari? ›

Some key differences are pronounced by each maker. Ferrari offers a long heritage of racing history and a certain nostalgia and prestige that many drivers want. Lamborghini provides more power and innovation, setting itself apart as a car maker that grabs your interest and doesn't let go.

What makes Ferrari so special? ›

Ferraris are distinguished by the unique sound of their famed roar. The Ferrari engine start sound is an expression of pure joy borne from world-class engineering, the result of decades of engineering refinement to produce a throaty rumble connecting the driver to their car.

Which is more expensive Lamborghini or Ferrari? ›

Cost. Current Ferrari retail prices begin at approximately $230,000. The suggested retail price of the Lamborghini Aventador is $379,700, while the cost of a Gallardo ranges from $181,900 to $248,000.

Who sells more Lamborghini or Ferrari? ›

Ferrari grossed $2.8 billion in sales during 2018 compared to the $1.25 billion for Lamborghini global sales in 2017. Lamborghini has steadily increased its global share, however, by streamlining its production and producing more vehicles than ever before.

What car is a poor man's Ferrari? ›

The second-generation Toyota MR2 was released as a mid-engined affordable sports car. When the MKII Toyota MR2 was launched, it not only offered performance on a budget but drawing styling cues from the Ferrari 348 meant that the second-generation MR2 was dubbed the “poor man's Ferrari”.

Where did Ferrari go wrong? ›

Mattia Binotto believes that lapped cars were a major factor in Ferrari failing to beat Red Bull in the Monaco Grand Prix. Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has blamed back-markers for the team's failure to win the Monaco Grand Prix.

Why does Ferrari not allow people to modify their cars? ›

While Ferrari allows subtle modifications to new cars, just to make them unique, they do not like big changes while the car is still under contract and being financed.

What is the most famous rivalry in the world? ›

The 20 biggest football derbies
TeamsDerby nicknamFirst meet
1. Barcelona vs Real MadridEl Clásico1902
2. Celtic F.C. vs Rangers F.C.The Old Firm Derby1888
3. Boca Juniors vs River PlateThe Superclásico1913
4. AC Milan vs Inter MilanDerby della Madonnina (Milan Derby)1909
16 more rows
Sep 7, 2022

What is the greatest business rivalry of all time? ›

1. Coca-Cola vs Pepsi. While this list isn't presented in any particular order, we figured we'd start out with what's likely the most famous and globally-known of all corporate rivalries. Of course, we're talking about the Coke vs Pepsi battle, dubbed by pop culture as the "Cola Wars".

Who is Ferraris rival? ›

Ferrari's competitors

Audi is a company that designs, manufactures, and distributes automobiles. Aston Martin Lagonda is a company that designs and manufactures high performance automobiles. Mercedes-Benz is an automobile manufacturer and distributor.

What happened to Lamborghini guy? ›

At 76 years of age, on 20 February 1993, Lamborghini died at Silvestrini Hospital in Perugia after suffering a heart attack fifteen days earlier. Lamborghini is buried at the cemetery of Renazzo.

Is Ferrari still owned by the Ferrari family? ›

10% of Ferrari was and continues to be owned by Piero Ferrari (son of Enzo). Currently, Ferrari is primarily owned by the public: 67.09% Public. 22.91% Exor N.V. (Owners of FCA)

Why did Lamborghini choose the bull? ›

In the early sixties, Ferruccio Lamborghini spent some time with Don Eduardo Miura, who was a breeder for Spanish fighting bulls in Sevilla. Lamborghini was so inspired and impressed by these animals that he decided that the raging bull should be his car brand's logo.

Can a Lamborghini owner buy Ferrari? ›

18 Owners: Can't Own A Ferrari

According to The Vintage News, it all started when Ferruccio Lamborghini had a few choice words about Enzo Ferrari's cars. Lamborghini split ways and started making his own cars, and the rest is history.

What car costs $3 million dollars? ›

Limited Edition Bugatti Veyron by Mansory Vivere – $3.4 million. No list of supercars would be complete without some edition of the renowned Bugatti Veyron. The Mansory Vivere edition is not only fast but also expensive at $3.4 million which bags it a place in our list of most expensive supercars of 2023.

What set off the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari? ›

In 1963, Ford was in negotiations with Ferrari to acquire the company. Right as they were about to close the deal, Enzo Ferrari backed out because he didn't want to relinquish control over his racing team. Enzo then insulted the company and turned around and sold major stock of Ferrari to Fiat.

What was the first car to beat a Ferrari? ›

In 1966, the GT40 Mk II broke Ferrari's streak at Le Mans, notching the first win for an American manufacturer in a major European race since Jimmy Murphy's triumph with Duesenberg at the 1921 French Grand Prix.

Why do Ferrari and Lamborghini not advertise? ›

Lamborghini doesn't advertise on TV because it isn't an effective way of reaching the target market for Lamborghini buyers. Like every supercar manufacturer, Lamborghini knows that other methods such as magazines, car shows, and social media are more effective.

What is the message in Ford vs Ferrari? ›

Leaders must be able showcase performers, highlight their achievements and show the team that performance matters. Ford v Ferrari isn't just a cars movie or a racing movie. It's a film about leadership. The perfect lap takes more than horsepower — it takes leadership.

What can we learn from Ford vs Ferrari? ›

1) It's not about any race, It's about the race that Matters the most: When you are at a leadership role you need to be selective in the battles you wish to fight, you need to know the Race that matters, the one you really want to win and focus on it with all your heart and soul.

Who is the rival of Ferrari? ›

The Ferrari-Lamborghini rivalry has been one of the most enduring and exciting stories in the automotive world for many decades. It all started with an insult when allegedly Ferruccio Lamborghini challenged Enzo Ferrari by claiming that his tractor has a better clutch than his Ferrari.

What Ford beat a Ferrari? ›

During the practice laps, the 427 set the lap record at 3:33, almost five seconds faster than the Ferraris! Ken Miles received his wish as he and Bruce McLaren teamed up to drive one of the GT40X cars. While the Ford had set the lap record, the race was an unmitigated disaster.


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