The automotive industry is full of recognisable names, from Lamborghini to Mazda. They are iconic car manufacturers who’ve built up a reputation over decades. But what were the origins of these manufacturers and who were the people who founded them? We take a look at the people who were responsible for creating automotive empires and see how they got their start.
Ferruccio Lamborghini was born in 1916 and became known for his ownership of tractors and boats. He became increasingly involved with cars during the 1950s as he owned a number of sports vehicles. He owned a Ferrari 250 GT and went to Enzo Ferrari to talk about a problem he had with the clutch. Ferrari famously told Lamborghini that the problem was with the driver and not the car. Lamborghini took this as an insult and decided to build his own car.
He founded an auto factory in the town of Sant’Agata and had some of Ferrari’s former employees build a car with a V12 engine. The result was the Lamborghini 350GT and it set the standard for the rest of the company.
Jujiro Matsuda was a Japanese industrialist who took over a cork manufacturing company called Toyo Cork Kogyo in 1920. In 1931, he oversaw development of a three-wheeled vehicle called the Mazda-Go that looked like a motorbike with a cargo-carrier. Matsuda changed the company name to Mazda and started focusing on car manufacturing.
The first car Mazda launched was the R360 Coupe in 1960. Matsuda continued to oversee the company until he was succeeded by his son-in-law.
Robert Bamford and Lionel Martin
Robert Bamford was an engineer and Lionel Martin was a businessman who created the foundations for what would become Aston Martin. Bamford & Martin Ltd was founded in 1913 and they changed the name to Aston Martin in 1914. This came about during Martin’s successful run at the Aston Hill Climb in Buckinghamshire.
The first Aston Martin car, called the Coal Scuttle, was produced in 1915. Bamford retired in 1920 and Martin left in 1926, but their legacy lives on.
Henry Royce and Charles Rolls
Henry Royce and Charles Rolls famously met at The Midland Hotel in Manchester. Rolls was one of Britain’s first car dealers and Royce owned an electrical business. What brought them together was the two-cylinder Royce 10 that Royce made in 1904. Rolls preferred three and four-cylinder cars, but was impressed by Royce’s design and wanted to sell it to the public. They formed Rolls-Royce Limited in 1906 and production began in 1908.
August Horch was a German engineer who was responsible for creating Audi. Originally, he founded a car manufacturer called Horch, but left the company in 1909 after a dispute. In 1910, he set up a new company called Audi Automobilwerke GmbH. Audi was the Latin version of Horch’s name and the rest is history.