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Obituary: Bob Wallace, Lamborghini test driver

Thu, 03 Oct 2013

Bob Wallace, Lamborghini’s first ever test and development driver, has passed away in the Italian supercar manufacturer’s 50th anniversary year. He was 75.

New Zealand-born Wallace played a key role in the development of the firm’s road cars between 1964 and 1975, having joined the company initially as a mechanic. He was also influential in the development of Lamborghini’s famous V12 engine.

On Bing: see pictures of Bob Wallace

Find out how much a used Lamborghini costs on Auto Trader

The Kiwi moved to Europe at just 21 years of age, travelling to Italy to work for the Ferrari and Maserati race teams. After a stint in motorsport, Wallace moved the short distance to Lamborghini to work as a mechanic.

He quickly worked his way up the ranks, progressing on to a role as test and development driver, assessing Lamborghini prototypes at 170mph on the Italian autostrada under the cover of darkness.

Wallace’s connection with Lamborghini went much deeper than maxing out the firm’s latest supercar, however.

Renowned for his deft touch and amazing feel – as well as his ability to give excellent feedback to engineers on how a chassis was performing – also Wallace played a key role in establishing the Lamborghini we know today.

Wallace’s credits include the Miura, the 400GT, the Urraco, the Jarama S ‘Bob Wallace Special’ and the amazing Miura SV/J, a limited six-car production run based on the unique Miura Jota.

The Jota is perhaps Wallace’s most famous legacy. Based on Miura chassis #5084,  this was a test bed for a new Lamborghini racer than would allow the firm to compete under the FIA’s ‘Appendix J’ racing rules. Jota being the Spanish word for J.

This unique 1970 development model was all but destroyed during a crash on the as yet unopened ring road around the Italian city of Brescia. But it has subsequently been restored.

Sadly, due to health reasons, Wallace was unable to attend the Lamborghini 50th anniversary celebrations that MSN Cars took part in earlier this year, sending  a video message instead.

President and chief executive officer of Automobili Lamborghini, Stephan Winkelmann:

“The news of the death of Bob Wallace hit me and all of us at Lamborghini and leaves us with great sorrow. As the first test driver of the company, Wallace has played a key role in the early years of Lamborghini and strongly contributed to the birth of the myth of the bull.

“Automobili Lamborghini is close to his relatives and friends, and will honour his memory.”

On Bing: see pictures of Bob Wallace

Find out how much a used Lamborghini costs on Auto Trader

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