By now we're all fairly up on what's gone down since Audi got 100% ownership in July 1998 and saved the marque from extinction after a long series of awful owners. Audi's Automobili Lamborghini holdings include all of the auto business and its many services, the offshore boat racing engines and all merchandising rights not held by Tonino Lamborghini.
The best part of Tonino's job is the museum he built and opened in 1995 in honor of his dad, officially called the Centro Polifunzionale Ferruccio Lamborghini. I call it "Lamborghini's Vault." Whereas the "museum" at the Sant'Agata factory is more of a casual display with no sense of background info, Tonino's space on state highway 255 in Dosso northeast of Cento is a spectacular layout of vintage Lamborghini milestones with a great sense of chronology. Many of the pieces displayed were kept for years by Ferruccio himself at the estate in Panicarola. Unfortunately, all of his Ferraris, Jaguars, Mercedes and Morgans have long since been sold off.
Though no one knows exactly what happened to the very first Fiat-based two-seater that Ferruccio built for wife Clelia in 1946, the museum does have the first Lamborghini-branded two-seater based on a Fiat 500 Topolino and which Ferruccio and friend Gianluigi Baglioni modified (bronze headers!) and used for the the Mille Miglia in 1948. There's the only remaining 1965 L59 helicopter with Continental engine of the six that were produced. Ferruccio's personal Miura P400 SV is just to the left as you walk in. There's one of two existing Jarama Rally prototypes, a go-kart designed and built by Ferruccio in the early '50s for Tonino and the body-in-white of the canceled initial Espada design with large gullwing doors. To all of this and the tractors are added Tonino's Lamborghini golf carts, his Town Life ultramini city cars and an ample triptych of old photos that you could stare at all day.
Besides Clelia's original two-seater, the other missing piece that will most likely remain missing is the 1963 350 GTV prototype purchased some time back by a very wealthy Japanese collector. Tonino said, "He won't sell for any price, I'm convinced now. Believe me, I've tried." In the mid '90s Tonino finally found the original 1946 Carioca tractor not far away in horrible shape after it was left sitting in a field for 10 years.
I came away from the museum in Dosso with a far fuller picture of who Ferruccio Lamborghini was and the fascinating role his cars played in creating our modern-day definition of "supercar." As the current complex in Dosso is a bit out of the way, Tonino's plan is to move the whole deal southeast to be added to the grounds of his company villa in Funo some time before 2010.
Oh, and what would Ferruccio think of his car company nowadays? He was an enterprising and realistic businessman more than anything else. He'd probably love it.