Legendary Lamborghini test driver Bob Wallace dies

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The man credited with developing the ground-breaking Lamborghini Miura, Bob Wallace, has died at his United States home aged 75.

Having moved to Italy as a 21-year-old to pursue his love of racing cars, the Auckland-born Kiwi worked as a race mechanic for both Ferrari and Maserati before joining the Sant'Agata concern in 1964 as its first test driver.

He played a key role in developing the iconic V12 and several key models through the 1960s including what many consider the ultimate Lamborghini, the Miura Jota of 1966 that was destroyed during testing.

Partially due to necessity, Wallace favoured high-speed testing at night on public roads, often at speeds of up to 170mph on the Autostrada.

He was also responsible for taking on a young Valentino Balboni as an apprentice, and who later took over from Wallace when he left the company in 1975.

A man usually too modest and shy to blow his own trumpet over his achievements, Wallace made a massive contribution to Lamborghini and the birth of the supercar.

Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, said: “The news of the death of Bob Wallace hit me and all of us at Lamborghini and leaves us with a 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. 

"We were sorry that he could not accept our invitation and come to celebrate the 50th anniversary at our factory in May due to health reasons, but his words in a video message impressed all of the thousand guests. Automobili Lamborghini is close to his relatives and friends, and will honour his memory.”

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