Interview: Lamborghini’s CEO Stephan Winkelmann & Design Director, Filippo Perini

Angus: The Veneno we are sitting next to is an intense, extreme car. How much further do you think Lamborghini can go in terms of extreme design and technology?

SW: It is extreme, but we have to understand this is an exercise. This is not something we should interpret as a future step or direction that Lamborghini is heading. This is an exercise of an extreme car with extreme aerodynamics; where materials and the engine are king. And, it’s also here to celebrate the history of Lamborghini in its 50th year.

Angus: When we look at today’s cars they are very angular, very linear. Back in 2006 Lamborghini introduced a Miura concept at a number of auto shows. Does the company have any intentions of re-introducing fluid, curved forms like the Miura back into its line up?

SW: The big challenge for smaller companies like Lamborghini is to always go forward. A concept car like the Miura, which was brought about to celebrate its 40th anniversary, would be successful but counter to our vision. The history is important, history is where you’re coming from and needs to be recognized, however it is not something you repeat. In addition it takes away focus from your core products and you would be perceived as running out of ideas.

Angus: On a more personal note. I’m driving the Aventador tomorrow. What can I expect?

SW: Easy to drive. Very easy to drive. Much easier than it looks. The best way to drive it is always in manual mode – Strada or Sport. You can enjoy. It’s a very aggressive way of driving the car, but you can also have a relaxed drive in traffic.

Angus: Okay, million dollar question…favorite Lamborghini?

SW: Always the new one. Always the next model. (Always the consummate marketer this Winkelmann)

Angus: What do you think Ferruccio would think of the company today, fifty years on?

SW: I hope he would be happy. What we did in the last fifteen years since Audi bought the company, it’s the right thing. Nobody questions that there is an influence that is not Lamborghini. So yes, I think he would be pleased.

Angus: Further to Ferruccio’s dream. How would you personally differentiate Lamborghini from Ferrari? I mean this was what drove Ferruccio back in the day, was the idea of building a better car than Ferrari or Maserati.

SW: Yeah, okay that was the old cars. Fine. But today you look at our cars here with the V12, there is no comparable all-wheel-drive car with mid-engine configuration. Yes you have the Gallardo and the 458 which are similar, but we are not looking into what the others are doing, we are continuing to do our own thing. Our cars are very recognizable, very unique, and I think this is key to the success of both brands. I strongly believe there is enough space in the market for both brands to be successful.

Angus: I know it’s tough to explain the difference between the two brands to people, which is why I wanted to get your personal opinion on the topic.

SW: I will say our cars are immediately recognizable. They are sharper on the design, they’re lower, and more solid on the street when you look at them. Also, we have the all-wheel drive system which is very different to Ferrari.

Angus: One last thing before you go. I noticed you wear a number of bracelets of various colors and materials. A very unique fashion choice for a person in your position. Is there any significance behind them?

SW: The carbon fiber one is from Lamborghini, and represents our company with its lightweight material. The braided leather bracelets are from our Lamborghini fashion line. The leather is made out of the same leather used in our seats of our cars. You can buy these for yourself. All the rest are just gifts, without any deeper meaning at all.

And with that, the CEO of Lamborghini for the past nine years was off to continue his mission of promoting Lamborghini to the people … speaking with long time owners and friends along the way. Winkelmann is a very unique, surprising individual who we think certainly made the right choice by not going into politics.

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