A Lamborghini Aventador is seen on the production line at a Lamborghini factory in Sant'agata Bolognese, November 15, 2011. Silhouetted against grey walls, workers in black polo shirts adorned with Lamborghini's gold raging bull logo guide sheets of black material into a vacuum-controlled cutting machine, before pressing and shaping the pieces into huge moulds. These parts will make the chassis of the Aventador, which is one of the first cars to have its entire body built of carbon fibre composites, an alternative to metals prized by plane makers for their lightweight malleability. Picture taken November 15, 2011. To match Insight AUTOS/COMPOSITES REUTERS/Giorgio Benvenuti (ITALY - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

Ever since Prince Scipione Borghese won the 1907 Peking-to-Paris race in a seven-litre Itala, Italy has been the spiritual home of the supercar - Porsche and Texas chicken farmers notwithstanding.

But now, it seems, Italians can't afford them.

Domestic sales of Italy's iconic brands collapsed in 2012, with Maserati being hardest hit - sales of the Trident Brand in Italy fell 72 percent to just 115 cars last year.

Sister company Ferrari fared little better; domestic sales fell 56 percent to 248 cars, while Audi-owned Lamborghini - a niche player in a niche market - battled to moved 60 cars in its home market, and that was 16.6 percent down from 2011.

PUNITIVE TAXES

Even Alfa Romeo, seen in Italy as a premium car if not a luxury one, shed a quarter of its home sales volume in just one year, with new registrations dropping to 42 000.

Industry insiders are blaming the sales nosedive on the eurozone crisis and on punitive taxes, which make it almost a crime to own and run a supercar in Italy.

Filippo Pavan Bernacchi, president of Federauto, the trade group for Italian car dealers, said bluntly: “The market is suffering from an overdose of taxes aimed at hitting, if not criminalising, the purchase, ownership and use of any kind of car, particularly sports and luxury cars.” - Daily Mail.