Manfred, the Man: A conversation with Lamborghini’s design director
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Manfred Fitzgerald has worked for Lamborghini for nine years, first as the brand director and now as head of design. Between Fitzgerald and Chief Executive Stefan Winkelmann, they have reinvented the brand under VW Group’s ownership. But now, with the Paris Motor Show introduction of a four-door coupe/sedan concept — the stunning, heart-stealing Epoque — Fitzgerald is taking the brand in a very different direction. No longer content to sharpen the spears of the hyper sports car market, Lambo is entering the Gran Turismo market. What of all the pronouncements that Lambo would never dilute the brand? ‘I’ve spent the past nine years creating a distinct image for the brand,’ Fitzgerald said. ‘Extreme, uncompromising, and Italian.’ But, he said, ‘It would be a mistake to reduce the brand to what we’ve done before.’
In fact, the Estoque project evolved fundamentally differently than other Lambo projects. Typically, the technical parameters — size, acceleration, performance, horsepower — set the agenda, and the design and styling try to wrap it all up in a functional, visually pleasing package. With the Estoque, the mission was to create, as Fitzgerald said, ‘a consequent design.’ Which is to say, it started with the ferocious aesthetic of the car and the engineering was required to keep up.
‘It’s contrary to what we’re used to doing,’ Fitzgerald said. ‘R&D had to follow the design, think it through.’
Interestingly, the packaging hard points were assumed around Lamborghini’s biggest engine, the gas-powered V-10. However, since Lambo has a variety of smaller corporate engines to choose from, including V-8s and V-10 diesels, those engines are production possibilities. Even, Fitzgerald said, a hybrid power train.
With the state of turmoil in the world’s markets, this might seem a poor time to launch into an entirely new segment of the market, but Fitzgerald said it’s exactly the right time. ‘We have to expand the brand so we won’t be dependent on just two lines of extreme sports cars,’ he said. ‘That market is very volatile.’