When you think of Italian cars, what immediately comes to mind?
Ostentatious designs penned by legendary coachworks firms like Pininfarina? Formula 1 cars donned in Rosso Scuderia racing around legendary circuits like Monza and Mugello while the Tifosi cheers? V12 engines that rumble and shriek with the character of 1000 raging bulls? Supermodels arriving in supercars donning the latest fashion from one of the dozens of Italian fashion houses?
Well friends, you wouldn’t be the only ones who think Italian car culture is all about speed and all things Bellissimo. At Xtreme Xperience, we happen to love all matters of Italian supercars and we proudly feature many on our Open Road and Track Day events.
Curious about why Italian supercars reign supreme? Read on to find out more.
Italian Car Culture
Italian car culture is, in a word, unique. Much like their food and their fashion, Italians have a way of turning mundane things into extraordinary expressions of love and passion.
Visit Italy and you’ll be struck by the sheer variety of cars and the absolute lust for speed that seemingly every single Italian has. Many cab drivers and locals will tell you that stop lights and stop signs are merely suggestions and that Italians are always in a hurry to get somewhere. This is in stark contrast to how the majority of Italians live their daily lives, which is slow and methodical, enjoying every last sip of wine and every last crumb of food.
We’re going to cover all the major Italian automotive brands but let’s be honest when you think of Italian speed, you think of Lamborghini and Ferrari.
The History of Lamborghini and Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari (Stable of Ferrari) can trace its roots back to the days when Enzo Ferrari was working for another legendary Italian company, Alfa Romeo. Enzo always had a penchant for racing and in the early days of Alfa Romeo, he ran their pioneering racing division until 1939. He left under, let’s just say, ‘questionable’ conditions and promised to not use the Ferrari name in connection with a racing car for at least four years. Well, two years later, he was already producing a Fiat-based race car under his tutelage that bared every bit of Ferrari except the name. Skirting the rules? That’s the Italian way.
By 1947, Ferrari was producing their own cars, while still participating in racing. In fact, Enzo ONLY sold the cars to fund Scuderia Ferrari, and according to insiders, he did so quite begrudgingly. To be frank, the ’50s and ’60s were a true Golden Age for Ferrari road cars and the things they produced were awe-inspiringly perfect. This was also the age of the dawn of Formula 1 and the age of the epic battles between Ferrari and Ford at Le Mans. After a series of takeovers and buyouts over the years, Ferrari is still the preeminent racing marque in the world and one of the most valuable brands in the world.
Born to farmers in the grape-producing region of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, Ferruccio Lamborghini is an unlikely supercar success story. After World War II, Lamborghini saw a need in the market for an affordable and efficient tractor. Lamborghini Trattori (Tractor) was an immediate success. A born tinkerer, he had enjoyed building fast Fiat Topolino’s in his youth but now with more wealth on his hands from the tractor business, he began to buy bigger and better Italian cars like Alfa Romeo’s and Lancia’s.
In a hilarious bit of fate, the founding of Automobili Lamborghini is tied in closely to a feud with Ferrari. According to Ferruccio, Ferrari’s were thinly veiled race cars that didn’t belong on the street. They were loud, uncomfortable, and unreliable. He brought these concerns right to Enzo himself and was dismissed, allegedly by being thrown out of his office. So, what did Lamborghini do? He took his engineering expertise and built his own car company. By 1963, he was incorporated and ready to rock.
Although the original Lamborghini cars were good, they paled in comparison to the supercar that started it all, the Miura. Besides looking incredible, the 1967 Miura utilized an unusual mid-engined, transverse-mounted layout to better distribute weight and aid in traction. Many think the Miura is the most beautiful supercar ever, but there’s no disagreement that the mid-engined layout would become the standard setup for supercars to come until this very day. How iconic is that?
The rest, as they say, is history. After being bought and sold a number of times, Lamborghini finally ended up in the hands of the Volkswagen Group in the late 1990s. From there, they produced modern legends like the Murcielago and Gallardo, and then on to the Huracan and Aventador. What they never stopped being throughout their tumultuous history is eminently interesting, dramatic, and 100% Italian.
Mamma Mia, More Makes and Models
Although Enrico Bernardi built a gas-powered tri-cycle in 1884, Italian car culture really began with four letters: FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino). Founded by Giovanni Agnelli, Fiat put Italy on the car-making map. Early Fiat vehicles were a mix of cheap yet stylish utilitarian transportation like the Fiat “Zero” and crazy, recording-breaking vehicles like the “Beast of Turin” with its 28.5L engine. Yes, you read that right, 28.5 LITERS.
Over the course of Fiat’s history, they would continue to produce vehicles that pushed the motorsports barrier, while also producing utilitarian vehicles that were inexpensive yet still possessed a distinct style. By the time World War II ended, Fiat was producing vehicles that were again, stylish, but still met the needs of the post-war Italian society. Namely, the Fiat 500 “Topolino”, a vehicle that was preposterously tiny and small yet could still jam up to four people inside. By far, however, they are most famous for their iconic Fiat 500, a vehicle that would sell over 3.9 million units from 1955 to 1975.
We can’t mention iconic Italian marques without mentioning Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo has been kicking butt and taking names since 1910 and racing since 1911. There is no marque in the world with more race wins than Alfa, and the storied brand was the impetus of all things Ferrari. Although Enzo Ferrari’s departure was testy, they never stopped producing, refining, and marketing their high-performance vehicles that would allow them to compete in everything from Rally to Formula 1. In fact, it was Alfa Romeo that would take the checkered flag at the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix in Turin.
Taking Expertise to the Track
Motor racing and Italy go hand in hand in a way that few other countries can lay claim to. In fact, the legendary racing series Formula 1, now a worldwide phenomenon, has its roots in Italy back in 1946. Known as the Grand Prix of Turin, it was a formalized road race with a set number of rules (the ‘formula’) that were adhered to by manufacturers like Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and ERA. By 1950, the Formula World Drivers Championship (WDC) was formalized and the very first world championship race took place in 1950 at Silverstone.
For the first decade, it was Argentinian-born Juan Manuel Fangio and his title-winning Alfa Romeo 159 that would steal headlines all over the world. Fangio would go on to win in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1957, a record that would stand until Michael Schumacher broke it in 2003. Yes, for around almost 50 years, the F1 record was held by an Alfa Romeo driver. How much more street cred can the Italians get than that?!
Remember all that Ferrari drama with his departure from Alfa Romeo? Well, Enzo’s real end goal was achieved in 1948 when his 12-cylinder Tipo 125 screamed around unsanctioned Grand Prix events all over the world. By 1950, the first official WDC year for Formula 1, Scuderia Ferrari was ready to rock and they’ve been a fixture ever since.
Of all the teams in Formula 1, it is Ferrari that has been in it the longest. Let’s put it this way, when you have a specific name for your fan base, you know you’ve reached the pinnacle of motorsports notoriety.
Experience the Lamborghini and Ferrari with Xtreme Xperience
We know you love to drive Italian supercars, and that’s why we have twelve Ferraris and eleven Lamborghinis in our fleet of legendary supercars! There is simply nothing like hammering the throttle down the straight and feeling a flat-plane crank V8 or angry V10 shriek up to triple-digit speeds. Every corner, every stab of the throttle, and hauling down from speed with herculean brakes is uniquely special.
We’ve got both Ferrari and Lamborghini available for both our racetrack and open road events. What could be better than a Lamborghini Huracan Spyder shrieking on some of the best back roads in America? If you’ve got the need for Italian speed and you fancy yourself a member of the Tifosi for Scuderia Ferrari, then you yourself some seat time in our fleet of 488 supercars.
Seriously, what are you waiting for?
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