Recession hits sports car firm

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 March, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 March, 1993, 12:00am


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THE death of Mr Ferruccio Lamborghini, the founder of the Italian sports car company that bears his name, was a blow to the troubled firm's morale.

The world recession has badly affected super car makers and Lamborghini's owner, Chrysler, has yet to scramble back out of the red.

New Lamborghini models have been shelved at least until the world's money markets recover and it is widely rumoured that Chrysler would like to sell the Sant' Agata firm.

Mr Lamborghini made his name building tractors and was a customer of Ferrari before building his own car in 1963.

His intention was to build a car that outdid Ferrari and the two companies became bitter rivals for the orders of well-heeled customers.

The new four-wheel drive version of the awesome 492 horsepower Diablo, dubbed the VT, proves there is life yet in the company.

But the huge cost of the car restricts sales to the most wealthy enthusiasts and the company needs cheaper models to broaden its range and increase turnover.

The replacements for the discontinued Jalpa and Espada models, which would have given Lamborghini the range of cheaper cars it needs, may never see the light of day.

Lamborghini is caught in the trap of not having the revenue from sales to develop new models and not having new models to generate sales.

Last year sales of the Diablo fell to about 300 cars, providing enough profit for the company to survive but not enough to progress.

The Jalpa replacement was close to completion when the project was put on hold.

It was to use a mid-mounted, four-litre V10 engine, producing 350 brake horsepower.

The chassis used aerospace technology in its construction, the alloy panels glued and riveted to make the car light weight while preserving the chassis strength.

It was going to sell for about half the price of a Diablo.