Lamborghini is the world's craziest super car maker -- here's how it came to be

In the United Nations of supercar makers, Lamborghini isn’t just a member, it’s got a permanent seat on the security council. Over the past 50 years, Lamborghini has firmly established itself as one of the most desirable and respected brands in the automotive industry. Like its archrival, Ferrari, the supercar specialists from Sant’ Agata emerged from unlikely beginnings and have survived through great financial upheaval.

In the process, Lamborghini has given the world some of most insane and iconic cars in recent memory.

Here’s how Lamborghini became Lamborghini!

After World War II, Ferruccio Lamborghini found great success making farm equipment for a Europe rebuilding. As a result, the wealthy entrepreneur acquired a fleet of the finest sports cars the continent had to offer.

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So how did Lamborghini go from tractor maker to supercar legend? It depends on who you ask.

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Another version of the story says that Lamborghini realised that the sports car business could return solid profits. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

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A long-time fan of bull fighting and born under the sign of the Taurus himself, Lamborghini used the symbol of a raging bull as the company's logo. The company would go on to name all of their cars after fighting bulls or aspects from the bullfighting world.

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Lamborghini's sports car venture debuted in 1963 with the stylish 350G and later ...

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... a handful of 350 GTS convertibles.

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Ferruccio Lamborghini certainly had an eye for talent.

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Lamborghini needed to design and build an engine from scratch to power his sports car. To create the engine, Lamborghini tapped the services of former Ferrari development chief Giotto Bizzarrini.

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While at Ferrari, Bizzarrini oversaw the development of such legendary cars as the 250 GTO.

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Through the decades, the Bizzarrini engine got bigger, more powerful, more refined and more technology advanced.

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In fact, Lamborghini employed versions of the Bizzarrini engine all the way through the Murciélago, which ceased production in 2010.

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As a follow up to the stylish, but very conventional, GT cars, Lamborghini went bold with the Miura.

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Often seen as the first true supercar, the Miura is named after the long line of fighting bulls bred by the Miura Cattle Ranch in Seville, Spain.

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Even with the popularity of the Miura, Lamborghini couldn't find the financial resources to sustain control of the car company bearing his name. In 1972, Lamborghini was forced to the sell the automaker to a Swiss group.

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After Ferruccio left the company, Lamborghini changed hands several times and even ended up in receivership for several years before being purchased by Chrysler in 1987.

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In 1974, Lamborghini struck pay dirt with the Countach, whose up-swinging doors would become synonymous with the brand. The name comes from an Italian saying which roughly translated is 'Holy cow!' Indeed!

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By the late 1980s, the Countach was beginning to show its age and ...

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... Porsche's groundbreaking 959 supercar. It became clear to Lamborghini that the brand was in need of a new flagship model.

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The result was the 202mph Lamborghini Diablo. It's named after a bull that battled a matador in marathon fight that lasted several hours in 1869.

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Forbes

Coming off the success of the Miura and Countach, Lamborghini returned to its tried-and-true formula.

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Once again, the Lamborghini turned to an upgraded version of Bizzarrini's V12 engine for propulsion and ...

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Interestingly, Chrysler wasn't sold on Gandini's initial proposal and told its own designer, Tom Gale, to touch up the design. After the Diablo, Gale would go on to design the seminal 1990s American supercar, the Dodge Viper.

For Ferruccio Lamborghini, the Diablo would be the last model he would experience before his death in 1993 at the age of 76.

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In late 1998, Audi purchased Lamborghini for $111 million. In 2001, Audi-owned Lamborghini released the Murciélago, successor to the Diablo.

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The Murciélago is named after a fighting bull that was stabbed by a matador 24 times and survived. Obviously, it was a message to the company's rivals in Maranello.

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For the Murcielago, Lambo designed the body in-house, under the supervision of Luc Donckerwolke. But, the Bizzarrini V12 is back for one more tour of duty.

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In its most powerful production form, the Bizzarrini V12 in the the Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce produced more than 660 horsepower.

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The Gallardo, named after a historic breed of bulls, is powered by a V10 engine instead of a V12.

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CAR

The 12-cylinder Aventador is the first Lamborghini flagship to not carry the Bizzarrini V12.

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The 217mph Aventador is named after a bull that was involved in a brutal battle with a matador in 1993.

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In 2014, Lamborghini released the new Huracan -- the company's followup to the highly successful Gallardo. The striking Huracan is named after a bull that fought in 1879.

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Motor Trend

Like the Gallardo, the Huracan is also powered by a V10.

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So what's next for Lamborghini? In addition to building bonkers supercars and special edition models such as the Veneno and ...

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... Lamborghini will build a new SUV called the 'Urus.'

The Urus will be Lamborghini's first off-roader since the over-the-top LM002 from the 1980s. The Bizzarrini V12-powered brute was originally designed to be Lamborghini's entry into a military contest to built the successor to the Jeep. The HUMVEE won that competition.

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As for the Urus, named after a brutish ancestor to the modern bull, it will enter production in the next couple of years.

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In fact, Lamborghini now has the heritage and pedigree that it lacked before in the eyes of collectors. Here, a trio of Lambos sit in Jay Leno's famed garage.

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Now financially stable, Lamborghini is free to unleash its mad yet supercool supercar genius upon the automotive world.

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NOW READ: Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 review: what it’s like when a true supercar hits the road

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