In 1969, barely six years after its founding, a young Hungarian engineering student found himself at the Lamborghini factory. Presented here for the first time are his photographs of Miuras, Espadas and huge V12’s.

József Erdősi was an exchange student at the University of Bologna, following in the footsteps of Dante Alighieri and Nicolaus Copernicus. Unlike the millennium-old university’s famous earlier alumni, he was not studying to be a poet or an astronomer: József’s future lay in agricultural engineering. He spent some of his practice time at Lamborghini Trattori, the tractormaking giant founded in post-war Italy by the man who would go on to give Enzo Ferrari bad dreams.

Through the right connections with the right people, József was allowed to transfer for a few weeks to Lamborghini’s other factory—Automobili Lamborghini—in the village of Sant’Agata Bolognese, a hamlet in Emilia-Romagna province between Bologna and Modena. It was here that Ferruccio Lamborghini had founded his sports car manufacture in 1963 to take on Ferrari in neighboring Maranello.

As an engineering student, József spent his days in the brake and engine assembly areas. He was also granted access to the room where Miuras received their scheduled maintenance.

It was not all work and no play for Mr. Erdősi. One day, an enigmatic question came his way about his cardiovascular health. Upon replying in the positive, he found out what it was all about. The young future engineer was about to receive a ride in the fastest road car of its day: a Lamborghini Miura.

“The seat was extremely low. I buckled up with a four-point racing harness. Then, as we rolled out of the factory, the test driver floored it. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. He switched to second gear at 90 MPH, third gear at 125 MPH, fourth at 140 MPH and went all the way to fifth gear at an astonishing 160 MPH,” he recalled in a recent conversation. “A field then approached at great speed. I was bracing myself for the inevitable ride through rows of corn when the driver flicked the wheel and took a corner at an unlikely speed. This went on for another forty minutes.”

By József’s recollections, the test driver he rode with that day had been the racing mechanic for Lorenzo Bandini—Ferrari’s Formula One and sports car driver—until Bandini’s fiery demise at the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix.

An avid photographer, József took a number of pictures on black and white Ilford film. His photos offer a unique glimpse into a nascent Lamborghini factory in its 60s heydays. Four years later, Ferruccio Lamborghini would be gone as the factory’s owner and car manufacturers everywhere would be face to face with the incompatibility of monster V12’s with the 1973 oil crisis.

Lamborghini would survive this all in the coming decades until it came to rest as a subsidiary of a German giant, producing fabulous modern cars in a brand-new Audi-built factory on the same spot.

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

The Miura production line in all its high-tech 1969 glory.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

Parallel to the Miura was built the four-seater Espada, both Marcello Gandini designs using the same 4-liter Giotto Bizzarrini V12 engine.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

Another shot of the Espada line shows a distinct Espada feature: the huge pane of glass on the rear hatch.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

This is a Miura S in for regular checkup. It had been shipped to Italy from California.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

A Miura being serviced, with the engine cover taken clear off.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

A finished Espada with old-school Italian license plates. In the background, you can see the open door of a Miura, which, when viewed from front, resembles a bull’s horn.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

A Lamborghini V12 engine on the test bench, with twelve polished velocity trumpets capping its Webers.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

Another shot of the V12 in the test chamber.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

This is a complete engine-transmission assembly. You can see from its longitudinal setup that it’s meant for the Espada: in the Miura, the same engine is mounted transversely behind the cabin.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi

Lamborghini, The Early Years: An Exclusive Gallery

A Miura stripped down to the bare chassis as it is being serviced. For the sake of everyday usability, the velocity trumpets are replaced with common air boxes.

Photo Credit: József Erdősi