The Lamborghini factory sits between Bologna and Modena, surrounded by narrow country roads. I know because I test-drove two Lamborghinis on those roads.
It's not fair, you're thinking. And you're right. I don't give a damn about cars. I feel I've made it in the world because I own a reliable car that won't break down on the highway. That's it. The minute I start hearing noises, even if they come from a purring engine, I start to dwell on the fact that I'm hurtling down a highway while trapped in a hunk of metal that can fail at any minute.
My thinking when I am given the chance to drive a Lamborghini: "Big deal."
Ferruccio Lamborghini began making tractors right after World War II and within a decade was the largest manufacturer of tractors in Italy. A sports car fan he owned Alfa Romeos, Maseratis, and a Ferrari, but he wasn't completely satisfied so he set out to make his own. From 1963 to the present the Lamborghini plant has produced sports cars for the highrollers. These cars are handcrafted in the factory where they produce four different models and a maximum of six cars per day. In a very good year, they sell 2,400 cars.
Antonio, a 23-year-old in a gray business suit, gave us a factory tour where we watched the men on the line put together the cars. They were wearing all black, which made working on Lamborghinis look like a very sexy job. Then we went to the little museum to look at the one-of-a-kind prototypes that never made it to the line. Every car I looked at made me imagine Sophia Loren behind the wheel ,wearing a head scarf and large sunglasses and driving gloves.
I got behind the wheel of a bright green Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera coupe and a man from the factory with limited English explained how the car worked. There was no clutch and you shifted gears with a paddle attached to the steering wheel. I just looked at him and he basically indicated -- all will be fine; just follow me. And off we went - four Lamborghinis in a row -- onto the country roads.
It was a breath-taking experience. You are so low to the ground and the car handles so beautifully that all you want to do is drive as fast as possible. It was almost like you're driving in a bubble; like nothing can touch you. We broke speed laws. We didn't care. We laughed uncontrollably. We didn't care. At that moment I cared deeply about cars. I felt like I got it.
We were the envy of the road.
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