A meal to remember
Wim Oude Weerninks dinner included a hot tip about VW
Rumors were swirling in spring 1998 that Lamborghini was about to be taken over – most likely by a German automaker. But on the eve of the Turin auto show nobody – especially me – expected to learn that the Volkswagen group was about to capture the Italian sports car maker.
The night before the show opened I was at an informal dinner in Turin.
Among the guests was Lamborghini CEO Vittorio Di Capua. We sat across from each other at a long wooden table. He chatted freely in the noisy room about Lamborghini’s future, saying that the carmaker needed fresh investment to finance the so-called baby Lambo, which would become the Gallardo.
Di Capua told me that German accountants had visited Lamborghini’s headquarters in Sant’Agata.
He didn’t say who the accountants worked for but he confirmed that Lamborghini, owned by Indonesian
businessman Tommy Suharto, son of the country’s former president, would change hands soon.
The next day nobody seemed to notice VW group Chairman Ferdinand Piëch’s visit to the Lamborghini stand. During the visit Piëch chatted with Di Capua for a long time. When I asked Di Capua about the meeting all he would say was that VW group subsidiary Audi would be a very important supplier for Lamborghini’s technological knowledge. That was an understatement because Audi would soon take control of the carmaker.
When contacted for comment, VW would say nothing. It didn’t matter because we knew we had the story.
On April 27, we reported that VW group was the top candidate to buy Lamborghini. A few weeks later the deal was officially announced.