The Italians had received us as heroes during the Grande Giro’s four previous days, and now Bologna gave a heroic backdrop for the tour’s finale. Our 350 Lamborghinis looked stunning in the city’s Piazza Maggiore and adjacent Piazza Galvani, improbably blazing blue, red, yellow, orange, purple and even pink amid the Renaissance-era glories. Hearts burst with the joy of completing the 1200-kilometer run safely, with love for these amazing and outrageous cars, with fondness for new friends, and with the opportunity to share our cars with the nation that created them.
The stereotyped Lamborghini owner may be a narcissist with bad taste, but the awards ceremony suggested the label of forward-thinking extrovert is more appropriate. The owner of a prize-winning Urraco saluted Bologna itself and the surrounding region for the remarkable concentration of design and engineering talent. Mindful of his own family who couldn’t attend the Giro, the preeminent Espada’s owner invited three children from the audience to climb in for a ride around the square. Accepting his trophy for the top Countach, Wilhelm Hinghaus told how he’d bought his car brand-new 26 years ago, and in the 60,000 kilometers he’s covered since then, the orange upholstery he originally specified has actually come into fashion.
Then everybody fired up their Lamborghinis so the cars could visit their birthplace in Sant’Agata. The now customary throng lined the streets of Bologna to see us off, and the ripping exhortations from the cars’ tailpipes was as good as anything the Monaco Grand Prix could offer. People gathered along much of the 31-kilometer route to take pictures and wave.
At the manufacturing complex, I toured the assembly plant with a French group but understood the basics about laminating carbon fiber and autoclaving, 30 percent of this and 40 degrees of that. It isn’t the kind of vast plant with bicycle messengers dodging around automated guided vehicles; nevertheless, despite its daintiness, it’s obviously set up for high productivity, with two lines churning out Aventadors and Gallardos that are individualized to buyers’ unique tastes, which could include chartreuse leather upholstery.
The evening’s gala held in a very large temporary structure on the premises was simply smashing, with fine food; the surprise reveal of the single-seat Egoista concept car, which looked like a Veneno (minus a channel section) and made international news; then a killer fireworks display; and a rock band featuring British singers Howard Jones and Paul Young, with a surprise appearance by pianist and Volkswagen board member Ulrich Hackenberg, who proved to be quite afflicted with the blues.
Like everybody else, I’m also afflicted with the blues—and the reds, yellows, oranges, purples, pinks, and chartreuses of Lamborghini. The cleverly contrived, 50th-anniversary Grande Giro genuinely affected us to the core. Just before the band started up, Lambo boss Stephan Winkelmann told me, “For sure, what I can say is, for the participants it will increase the love for the brand.”
Whatever Lamborghini spent to do all this, they got love for their money.