The company introduced the Silhouette V8, based on the Urraco, at Geneva in 1976. Only 52 were built. The company went into receivership in 1977 after the new owners tried to branch out into military vehicles and tried to do a sports car deal with BMW, a deal that didn't work out. A handful of managers and a factory full of employees kept the place going for more than 2 years until the Bologna business court sold the company in 1980 to the Mimran brothers, a pair of car-crazy Swiss food tycoons. First thing they did was try to put the company into the SUV business in 1981 with the huge LM 001, a five-door sport-ute powered by a rear-mounted Countach 5.7-liter V12 engine or, in some cases, a 5.9-liter Chrysler V8.

They had a busy year in 1982 with the introduction of the new 375-bhp 5.0-liter Countach LP500S, the Jalpa two-seater with its transverse midship 5.0-liter V8, and the LM 002 sport utility. This time, the engine was mounted conventionally in the front, but the big, ugly LM 002 didn't sell in any significant way.

The Countach was the mainstay of the company, getting annual improvements and tune-ups here and there, and a new 5.0-liter four-valve V12 in 1985.

In 1987, the company was sold by the Mimran family to a large American company, Chrysler, which would later do deals with American Motors, de Tomaso and Maserati, and get itself into enough financial trouble to be taken over by DaimlerBenz. But initially, it was thought, Chrysler had enough money and management skills to take the tiny sports-car maker to a higher plane. Lamborghini produced a special 25th Anniversary edition of the Countach in 1988, and on May 7, 1990, it built the last of 1,997 Countaches at Sant'Agata Bolognese.

Chrysler and its ego-heavy executives, including the King of Ego, Lee Iacocca, did a deal with French racer and rallyist Gerard Larrousse for Lamborghini to become the engine supplier for a new Formula One 3.5-liter V12 exclusively for Larrousse. Three years went by with not a single good result. Lamborghini also ramped up its commitment to huge 8- and 9.3-liter marine V12 racing engines, where the results came quicker and better.

And in 1990, Lamborghini replaced the Countach with another Marcello Gandini design, the fabulous Diablo, the first production sports car capable of speeds in excess of 200 mph. The Diablo roadster followed in 1992, coincident with the end of the big, heavy, ugly LM 002 SUV. The next year, Lamborghini added palpably to the wonderfulness of the Diablo with its Variable Traction or VT version, using a computer-controlled all-wheel-drive system. A handful of 30th anniversary editions were built.

Ferruccio Lamborghini died on February 20, 1993, having produced only a few thousand very special cars in his lifetime but setting the tone, with the Countach and the Diablo, for four decades of sports car development. After his car company went out of control, he built a winery, a golf course, a golf cart production company and a small car museum, and his son Tonino did his best to use and market the name on other other goods, but Ferruccio never built another car.

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