‘Lamborghini: 60 Years’ Looks Back at the Brand’s Fascinating and Convoluted History
Veteran British automotive journalist, and author, Stuart Codling has been covering the world of exotic automobiles for decades, but as a full-time journalist, he’s not exactly making supercar money. “I drive a Skoda,” he told Car and Driver from his driveway in England, one of the few spots on his property where he receives cell reception. But this affliction, common to those of us in the car writing business, hasn’t stopped him from indulging his affection for outrageous sports cars in other ways.
To wit, he is the author of the new book Lamborghini: 60 Years, a coffee table–scaled compendium of everything the audacious Italian automaker has done since it showed its front-engine, V-12 350 GTV grand tourer at the Turin auto show in 1963. And for fans of the brand, or anyone who respects Lamborghini’s consistently defiant ostentation, we think it’s well worth its $60 price.
Working with respected automotive photographer James Mann, Codling was able to locate, investigate, and shoot an example of just about every car the charging-bull brand has brought to market, along with some it hasn’t. And though he doesn’t currently own a Lambo, after conducting all of his research, he knows exactly which model he would buy.
“I’m a particular fan of some of the obscurata the brand produced in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Also, when I was a kid, I particularly liked cars with targa roofs—I think I watched too many episodes of Magnum P.I.—so my pick would be the Silhouette, which was a targa-topped car that was related to the Urraco but built in tiny numbers,” he said. “Unfortunately, it would melt away like April snow in my damp English driveway.”
Codling credits some of his personal fascination with Lamborghini to the brand’s convoluted history. Whereas Ferrari was founded by Enzo and controlled by him pretty much up until he died, Ferruccio Lamborghini tired of the challenges associated with running his namesake supercar company and sold it off, leaving it somewhat adrift.
“Ownership of the company in successive decades got passed around like a tray of cakes before it really started to flourish under Volkswagen-Audi Group ownership,” Codling said. “So, it’s a really interesting story to tell—there aren’t just the fingerprints of individual designers but also the entrepreneurs and the different very eccentric people who got involved at various points. It’s not just a book about the cars, but also about the people behind the cars.”
The Lamborghini mythos wraps, and warps, so much of the marque’s history—and, by association, automotive history. This provided Codling with intriguing challenges, as he attempted to sort out the factual from the apocryphal.
“There’s the theory that the Lamborghini V-12 engine was actually designed not by Giotto Bizzarrini, but that it was designed by Honda. It’s a part of the story, but it doesn’t really add up,” Codling said.
“There’s also the persistent myth concerning the most storied Italian designers in automotive history—Giorgetto Giugiaro and Marcello Gandini—arguing over who actually designed the Miura,” he added. “Sorting that one out was particularly interesting because Giugiaro is not exactly a reliable witness. He changes his story a lot.”
Codling was able to settle that issue, sort of. “I think that Giugiaro—likely after a number of stiff messages from lawyers—moved his story to something like, ‘I may have left a few drawings around, which might have been some inspiration but might not have been,'” Codling explained. “I think that’s about as close to the truth as we’re going to get.”
Brett Berk (he/him) is a former preschool teacher and early childhood center director who spent a decade as a youth and family researcher and now covers the topics of kids and the auto industry for publications including CNN, the New York Times, Popular Mechanics and more. He has published a parenting book, The Gay Uncle’s Guide to Parenting, and since 2008 has driven and reviewed thousands of cars for Car and Driver and Road & Track, where he is contributing editor. He has also written for Architectural Digest, Billboard, ELLE Decor, Esquire, GQ, Travel + Leisure and Vanity Fair.