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Home » Blog » Lamborghini vs Ferrari

If someone asked you to name an Italian car manufacturer, it’s quite probable that the first one that would spring to mind would be either Lamborghini or Ferrari. It’s probably safe to say that pretty much every person who has ever taken an interest in sports cars - or cars in general for that matter - has lusted over a Lamborghini or a Ferrari or two in their time. Even people who aren’t really into cars can appreciate the coolness of a classic Italian sports car.
 
These two manufacturers are synonymous with elegance, luxury and beauty, and are behemoths in not only the Italian sports car market, but the worldwide sports car market. The story behind the two is a great and fascinating one: Lamborghini was actually formed as a direct reaction to Ferrari - in more than one sense...
 
Ferrari
 
A fellow called Enzo Ferrari founded Scuderia Ferrari in 1929, which manufactured cars for racing purposes and sponsored racing drivers. It was not until 1947 that they began to design and produce street-legal cars, though they have always stayed very much involved in racing, where they have enjoyed great success - specifically in Formula One. Fiat took a 50% stake in Ferrari in 1969, and now it owns 90% of the company, the other 10% belonging to Enzo Ferrari’s second (and only surviving) son, Pierro Ferrari, whose mother was Enzo’s mistress, Lina Lardi.
 
Lamborghini
 
The man behind it all was called Ferruccio Lamborghini. He actually started out making tractors from surplus hardware from World War II, in which he served as a mechanic in the Italian Royal Air Force. Business was booming by the middle of the 1950s, and Lamborghini’s tractor-making company (Lamborghini Trattori) was one of the most successful manufacturers of agricultural equipment in Italy. With the wealth he had accumulated, Lamborghini’s inner boy emerged and he started a serious collection of luxurious - often sports cars.
 
These included Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Mercedes-Benz, Lancia and - of course - Ferrari. Lamborghini had bought a Ferrari 250GT in 1958 and, unsurprisingly, it paved the way for several more Ferrari purchases. One problem he is said to have had with his Ferrari cars was their noise - he considered them racing cars that had been slightly altered to suit roads better.
 
When one of his Ferrari cars suffered a broken clutch, Lamborghini discovered that the clutch was the exact same as the one his tractors had. When he requested that Ferrari replace the clutch with a more suitable one, they snapped back at him, replying with something along the lines of: “You’re a tractor-maker - you know nothing about sports cars.”
 
Taking this on the chin, Lamborghini quickly adopted an ‘I’ll-show-you’ attitude and got the wheels turning on his own sports car project, with the aim of making a grand tourer (‘gran tourismo’ in Italian) to rival the cars Ferrari made. In 1963, he founded Automobili Lamborghini, and ever since, pretty much, the two companies have been neck-and-neck.
 
Company profiles
 
Ferrari S.p.A. profile

Founder: Enzo Ferrari
Founded: 1947 HQ: Maranello, Italy
Current owner(s): Fiat (90% share); Pierro Ferrari (10% share)
Chairman: Luca di Montezemolo
Vice chairman: Pierro Ferrari
Number of employees: Just under 2,700 (as of 2011)
 
Automobili Lamborghini profile
Founder: Ferruccio Lamborghini
Founded: 1963 HQ: Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy
Current owner: Audi (100% share)
President: Stephan Winkelmann
Director: Filippo Perini
Number of employees: Just over 830 (as of 2011)

Ferrari’s first road car: the 125 S

Ferrari 125S - the Italiian manufacturer's first road car
Produced in 1947, the 125 S was designed by a then-44-year-old Italian automobile engineer called Gioacchino Colombo, with the assistance of Scuderia Ferrari. It was debuted on the 11th May 1947, at the Piacenza race track in Northern Italy. Only two units were made. Though it was Ferrari’s first road car, it was used in racing and won six of the 14 races it entered in 1947. Unfortunately, though, it was unable to win the world-famous Mille Miglia (‘Thousand Miles’) endurance race, despite drivers Clemente Biondetti and Giuseppe Navone giving it a jolly good crack.

Lamborghini 350GT - the Italian Manufacturer's first road car
Designed by Carrozzeria Touring for Lamborghini, the 350 GT was unveiled in March of 1964 at the Geneva auto show. As a result of its warm reception, production began on the car in May the same year, and 120 of them were built between 1964 and 1966. It was sold on the market at $15,600 USD, which equates to roughly $120,000 USD in today’s money. Because the 350 GT was successful, this meant that the Lamborghini’s ventures in road cars was off to a good start, and Ferruccio Lamborghini’s vision of competing with Ferrari was starting to become a reality.

Branding
 
Ferrari Branding
 
Ferrari’s logo is one of the most famous car badges in the world. Its ‘prancing horse’ (its Italian name being ‘Cavallino Rampante’) is instantly recognisable and unmistakable - whether it is a silver one on the boot of the car or the black one in the yellow shield on the bonnet. Just by looking at it you are reminded of the luxury and elegance associated with the Ferrari brand - which is exactly its intention. But why is it prancing horse?
 
In June of 1923, a fresh-faced 25-year-old Enzo Ferrari won a race which took place at the Savio race track in Ravenna (Northern Italy). On that day he met Countess Paolina, the mother of Count Francesco Baracca (how’s that for a name?), who was an Italian national hero having served heroically in the Italian Royal Air Force in the First World War. Baracca painted red horses on the side of his planes, and so Countess Paolina suggested to Ferrari that he should incorporate the same thing on his cars.
 
Of course, Ferrari decided to use black horses instead of red - this is because black horses were painted on Baracca’s squadron planes as a mark of respect when he was killed in action in the last year of the Great War.
 
In 1929, Ferrari began to incorporate the cavallino rampante on company stationary, and as we all know it has been entirely synonymous with the company ever since - first the racing team and then the road cars when they began to be manufactured in 1947.
 
Lamborghini Branding

 
Though perhaps not as instantly recognisable as Ferrari’s prancing horse (generally speaking), Lamborghini’s logo is just as imposing and representative of strength and prowess. It depicts a raging bull mid-tantrum, and it is gold in colour. Ferruccio Lamborghini didn’t just incorporate this logo for no reason, though - there is a story behind it.
 
In 1962, whilst enjoying a visit to the Seville ranch of Don Eduardo Miura, who was a high-profile breeder of fighting bulls, Ferruccio Lamborghini experienced a lightbulb-above-the-head sort of moment. Completely in awe of the Spanish fighting bulls Don Eduardo showed him, Lamborghini thought that a raging bull would be an ideal logo for the cars he was about to start manufacturing. Being a Taurus himself, it seemed a perfect fit (he probably resembled one, actually, when Ferrari told him he was a tractor-maker who’d never understand sports cars).
 
Lamborghini manufactured a car named after Miura in 1967 - unveiling one of the very first that was made to him at his Seville ranch - and ever since they have continued to draw on the whole bullfighting theme.
 
Ferrari Today

 
In 2013, Ferrari’s revenue was around the 2.3 billion euro mark, and they delivered just short of 7,000 units to dealerships. This was apparently 5% fewer units than they delivered to dealerships the previous year (2012), but nonetheless they made more profit. The predicted number of cars built and sold by Ferrari since the company’s inception in the late ‘40s is around 130,000.
 
LaFerrari

 
This hybrid sports car was unveiled by Ferrari at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, and its design was based on the findings of some research conducted at the University of Modena. Though it provides the most power of any Ferrari currently in existence, it also dramatically decreases fuel consumption by some 40%. Ferrari claims that the car can go from nought to 62 miles per hour in under three seconds, and that it has a top speed of 217 miles per hour (350 kilometres per hour). It is the fastest road-legal car Ferrari has ever made, and each one costs over £1 million!
 
458

 
Unveiled on 15th September 2009 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the 458 is one of the most popular Ferrari models on the market today. It is the successor of the highly popular F430, but is much more advanced as it uses some of the same technology that Ferrari’s Formula One cars do. It can get to 62 miles per hour in just over three seconds, and reaches a top speed of 202 miles per hour (325 kilometres per hour). Like many recent Ferrari models, the 458’s body was designed by Pininfarina - an independent Italian car designer.
 
When Top Gear reviewed the car, they raced it against its predecessor (the aforementioned F430), and the 458 was the clear-cut winner, beating it by a long way. They were also very pleased with the car’s aesthetics, lauding it on the show.
 
Lamborghini today
 
In 2013, Lamborghini’s revenue was a reported 508 million euros (the previous year it was around the 469 million euro mark), some four times less than Ferrari’s revenue. The year 2013 saw them distribute 2,121 cars worldwide, which was also an increase from the year before that, when they sent 2,083 cars to dealerships.
 
The Aventador

 
One of Lamborghini’s latest lines is the Aventador. Unveiled initially in late 2010 at Lamborghini HQ in Sant’Agata Bolognese, it was later unveiled to the rest of the world at the Geneva Motor Show on 28th February 2011. As you may have guessed, it is a sports car, and is actually the Lamborghini model which replaces the Murcielago, which had been a frontrunner of the sports car market for over a decade.
 
In true Lamborghini fashion, the car was named after a bull. The bull in question did very well at a bullfighting event in Saragossa bullring in 1993.
 
Car and Drive magazine dubbed the Aventador “the best Lamborghini ever”, whilst Motor Trend magazine called it “the friendliest V-12 supercar in the world”. Richard Hammond of Top Gear was also very impressed by the Aventador, and the car achieved the third fastest ever time on the Top Gear test track - beating, as it happens, the Enzo Ferrari (a Ferrari named after the founder which was produced between 2002 and 2004).
 
Sesto Elemento
 
Its name translates in English to “Sixth Element”, which is a reference to the car’s reliance on carbon fiber - the body, chassis and suspension parts were all made of carbon fiber, and as a result it only weighed 999 kilograms. The Sesto Elemento was unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, which took place in October. It had the same V10 engine as the highly lauded Gallardo model, and could get from zero to 62 miles per hour in exactly two and a half seconds - which is frighteningly quick. An extremely limited release, the car only sold 20 units. They were reportedly sold at prices of up to $2.9 million USD - some were supposedly sold at the low (snigger at will) price of ‘just’ $2.2 million USD.

So who is better - Ferrari or Lamborghini?

Steve McQueen's Ferrari 250GT


Current sales figures do indicate that Ferrari are more popular today than Lamborghini, and they are also a more profitable company, but that does not necessarily mean that they make the better cars. Lamborghini have always lagged behind in terms of sales and profitability, but they are probably just as well-regarded in terms of what they do. It’s up to you, really.

Steve McQueen did own a Ferrari 250GT, though, which probably sways things very much in Ferrari’s favour for fans of the Hollywood legend. Saying that, he would have looked cool in a Reliant Robin…