The things you didn't know car manufacturers made
This writer tuned in to Jeremy Clarkson’s new Amazon Prime show recently, and was shocked to learn that Lamborghini not only produced evocative supercars, but was also a manufacturer of something much bigger, and a whole lot slower.
In the show, imaginatively titled ‘Clarkson’s Farm,’ the former Top Gear star ventures out to buy a tractor, and having visited a local dealer and focussed purely on horsepower, does the most Clarkson thing possible and buys something far too big and a bit too heavy. Of course, it was a Lamborghini.
Yes, that’s right, Lamborghini makes tractors. And it got us thinking; do other manufacturers make items we wouldn’t expect? Turns out they do, let’s start with those Lambo tractors:
So everyone knows that Lamborghini makes some of the most ridiculous cars on the planet, but the company actually started life as a tractor manufacturer. Lamborghini Trattori was founded in 1948, 15 years before the car company of the same name came along, and has become one of the most innovative tractor manufacturers around, being an early adopter of all-synchromesh gears, modular water-cooled engines, electronic fuel injection and electronic power shift transmission. Lamborghini currently manufactures 11 varieties of open field tractors, eight compact tractors, three crawlers, and a front loader. We’re now wondering what a V12 tractor would be like…
Lighten and simplify. The Lotus mantra has been applied to many things, but one of the more unusual is their recent fascination with bicycles. Chris Boardman rode a Lotus 108 carbon fibre bike to gold medal glory in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, before it was banned. After almost three decades, Lotus has gone back to bikes with a collaboration with Hope Technology, with the aim of providing an innovative bike for the GB Cycling team at the delayed Tokyo 2020 games. Lotus provided the forks for the unusual looking machine, which are much wider than seen on conventional bikes, with the entire package offering a 2-3% aero gain. The bikes are worth in excess of £24,000…
The French manufacturer has turned its hand to many things since it was founded in 1810, though it has always been far better known for its cars. It actually started life as a tool manufacturer, making saws, coffee grinders, and then bicycles. But their pepper mills are regarded as being among the best in the world and are still made today. It's most expensive devices are a cool £1,500, so considerably more expensive than many of their second hand cars then!
OK, a bit of a loose one given that the motor company of the same name is an entirely separate entity, but as Rolls-Royce Holdings utilises the same logo and the same name as the car manufacturer, we’ll include them on this list. Aside from manufacturing some of the most luxurious cars around, the Rolls-Royce branding also appears on engines on Airbus and Boeing passenger planes, military aircraft and fighter jets, as well as nuclear reactors for submarines.
The easier question here is what Honda doesn’t make? The Japanese goliath is the world’s largest producer of motorcycles (you probably knew that already), but also makes garden equipment, marine engines, power generators, robots, airplane engines and even their own light business jet. It’s garden range is particularly vast, with items ranging from lawnmowers to hedge trimmers with plenty in between, while its ASIMO robot is considerably more intelligent (and personable) than many humans, and is the only humanoid robot that can ascend and descend stairs on its own.
Makers of the “ultimate driving machine” have had a go at building the “ultimate sliding machine” over the past decade, providing bobsleighs for the USA Olympic Bobsled/Skeleton team. They claimed a bronze medal in Sochi in 2014 and have since forged a technology partnership with the German Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton Federation.
We know there’s more than the above, so we’ll revisit this in the future with even more items that you didn’t expect to be made by the world’s top automotive manufacturers.
Richard Randle is a motorsport PR professional working with the UK’s top racing circuits and the UK’s premier single-seater category, the BRDC British F3 Championship.