Italians are very good at some things, making sports cars is one of them. While other countries try often to challenge Italy's supremacy in this area, they rarely come close. Fast, beautiful machines are a part of the Italian DNA and while Corvettes and Mustangs have captured hearts in the United States, Italian sports cars have conquered the world. There is an expression, "Germans make the best cars, but Italians make the best car," generally referring to Ferrari. Sport cars began to be developed in Italy right around the same time as regular cars, perhaps an early indicator of the Italians' need for speed. Indeed, Alfa Romeo was founded in1910, Maserati in 1914, Ferrari in 1929 and Lamborghini in 1963.
The Big Three--Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati--all originated from the same area of Italy. Today Ferrari owns Maserati and Lamborghini belongs to Audi. The history of these brands is fascinating, as is the fierce competition that led the cars to achieve perfection in speed, style and engineering in general. These days, however, these companies have changed. While at first these car manufacturers were focused on winning races and wowing the public with their designs, once big corporations took over that original, maverick spirit began to dissipate. Today things are much more about technology and market share. When Ferrari bought Maserati, a myth was broken and one of the world's longest running automotive rivalries ceased to exist. Just imagine if the Boston Celtics took over the L.A. Lakers, or the Boston Red Sox bought the Yankees.
Lamborghini Countach LP500S
Regardless of the change in the corporate climate what has always interested drivers is the actual cars these companies produce. And what cars they are. Lancia, originally founded in 1904, along with Alfa Romeo focused on developing sports cars that were fancy, but still affordable. Lancia Monte Carlo and Lancia Delta are still the queens of these designs; especially Delta, which became the best rally car ever produced and retired as world champion. Alfa Romeo also has a very strong tradition in sport cars and a pretty good racing record. Archrival of Ferrari and Maserati, the Alfa is sort of dismissed when it comes to racing, as Fiat has decided to concentrate all their racing team investments into Ferrari.
Despite this, Alfa has not stopped producing sports cars for the road and recent models, such as the Diva and the 8c, are great examples of their superior designs. Even with these new models the Alfa most loved by Italians probably remains the GTV. Following on we find Maserati, which after a decade or so in limbo came back strong in the 80s with the Biturbo, and has boomed in sales after Ferrari bought it out. Today's models feature Ferrari technology and design and it shows in the fantastic series like the Grand Turismo and the Quattro Porte.
Ferrari Enzo Greatest Ever Sports Cars Nº5
Then we come to Lamborghini and Ferrari. Lamborghini has never really made its way into the heart of Italians like Ferrari did, likely because of its constantly changing international ownership and its tractor manufacturer origins. The Ferrari tradition is also much older and comes from a long line of victories; however, that being said, Lamborghini produces some very fine cars, without a doubt. The Miura is probably the Lamborghini that Italians love most, although models like the Countach and Diablo are quite famous and well respected. Many accuse Lamborghini of being too aggressive and too heavy in its design, unlike Ferrari's more refined style and class.
Ferrari not only concentrates on engine power but also the body of the car and the Italian icon Pininfarina worked on Ferraris for decades. It would be impossible to mention every model of Ferrari, but we will touch on three that represent the soul of the company very well: the Ferrari GTO, the Ferrari 308 and the F40. There are more popular models, even more successful, but these three represent the evolution of Ferrari.
Italian sport cars are known the world over not only for their power and quality, but also for their style. Much like Italians themselves, the cars designed in the country have that little something extra. Italian manufacturers have always paid attention to the small details--from leather and wood, to tires and paint. Ingredients that have helped create a legend that will likely carry on into the next century.