Some people get turned down by their crush in middle school so they spend the next decade bulking up, studying like crazy or both, just so they can show their would-be girlfriends what they're missing. Facing rejection, others turn to a life of crime or become really good at playing drums, but there are some – very few – which have turned bad thoughts into either good business and/or wonderful works of art.
The narrative of Lamborghini and how the supercar company was created is without a doubt, one of the most well-known pieces of car culture among car enthusiasts, but not so many people know the exact circumstances in which Il Cavaliere decided to give Il Commendatore a lesson.
"Il Cavaliere" was none other than Ferruccio Lamborghini, mainly thanks to having been a receiver of the Italian Order of Merit for Labour, but also thanks to his high-class personality – although he grew up as the son of a grape farmer in an Italian village. "Il Commendatore" was obviously Enzo Ferrari, who apparently severed all connections with Ferruccio after Lamborghini Automobili was founded and never talked to his "foe" again.
As some of you know, it wasn't like this from the very beginning. In the mid- to late-50s, Don Ferruccio was already a successful industrialist, having made a fortune with Lamborghini Trattori and Lamborghini Bruciatori – now known as Lamborghini Calor, a heating and air-conditioning company. Since he was also a sports car lover, Ferruccio had started to amass a respectable number of expensive daily drivers, including an Alfa Romeo 1900 Super Sprint, a Lancia Aurelia B20, a gull-winged Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, two Maserati 3500GTs and a Jaguar E-Type Coupe that he didn't quite appreciate further than looks.
In 1958, he went to Ferrari for the first time, buying a 250 GT Coupe by Pininfarina. He liked the car, so he bought two more, but with a short-wheelbase and body by Scaglietti, praising the model's powerful engine and road-holding. Ferruccio's last Ferrari was a 250 GT 2+2 by Pininfarina, which he subsequently decided to tune after his taste, but not before informing Enzo of the poor reliability of Ferrari clutches and not-exactly-pristine customer support.A Lamborghini-tuned Ferrari?
That 250 GT is most likely the only Ferrari that can brag about having been modified by Lamborghini, as Ferruccio used the tractor factory workshop to replace its allegedly flimsy clutch with a bigger one from Borg & Beck, change the engine's cylinder heads from a SOHC to a DOHC of his own design and fitted no less than six horizontally mounted carburetors.
Apparently, Lamborghini would then stalk Ferrari test drivers leaving Maranello and race them on the nearby highway, probably giggling like a little school girl when he would leave them in the dust.
Since Enzo wasn't called Il Commendatore for being a caring and helpful individual who always takes responsibility for mistakes, he told Ferruccio some words that are probably left unquoted – Italian swear words are pretty colorful. Let's just say that he sent Lamborghini to go mind his business of making tractors and leave sports car-building to the professionals. Unperturbed but definitely with a plan to show Enzo that he is more than just a nouveau riche peasant, Ferruccio almost immediately went to work, with the result being that the first ever Lamborghini car started production not even five years after the bitter quarrel between the two men.
As a side anecdote, the original V12 engine in the Lamborghini 350 GTV prototype was designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, who was Ferrari's chief engineer for half a decade prior and part of the "Great Ferrari Walkout of 1961." Sure, the production model used a milder version of what was effectively a racing engine, since Bizzarrini had been responsible for the Ferrari 250 GTO, which was not exactly a comfortable grand tourer but a thoroughbred racer.
That being said, most of that engine's design survived for almost half a century, with the last (highly modified and modernized) units having powered the mighty Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce in 2010. Either way, this obviously didn't make Ferrari very happy.
Enzo's dream was to only make race cars, and his heart mostly beat for motorsport victories and not for personal financial gain coming from Ferrari-badged baseball hats and T-shirts. He firmly believed that the Ferrari road cars' raison d'être was mainly to be a cash cow for the company's racing activities, so we may look at the long-standing feud he had with Ferruccio as creation fuel. The bitter grudge that pretty much started from a shoddy sports car clutch turned into one of the most beautiful duels of the twentieth century, decades after actual duels had become an anachronism.
From 1963 until Ferruccio was forced to sell its majority in the company in 1974, the Sant'Agata Bolognese carmaker created works of art like the 350 GT/400 GT, the fantastic-looking Miura, the Islero, Espada, Jarama, Urraco and the Gandini-designed Countach prototype – probably the most famous Lamborghini product to date. All of them were more than worthy to battle Ferrari models; all were created in the span of a decade, and all of them made history. The engineer who designed that inferior clutch should probably have a statue erected somewhere.
Nowadays we have so many sports car manufacturers that it's easy to overlook where it all began, especially since most millennials don't really enjoy researching things outside their bubble of personal interests or hobbies. The truth is that without Enzo's and Ferruccio's egos we may have never gotten to appreciate works of automotive art like the Miura, Countach, or modern four-wheeled monsters like the Aventador LP 750-4 SuperVeloce.
It all started when one man demanded satisfaction from another and used car-making instead of pistols for this downright code duello. In the end, it doesn't really matter if growing up you had a Testarossa or a Countach on your bedroom wall, everyone had something to gain from the feud that birthed Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.