Not everything was a V12 with scissor doors
Presumably like many of you, I found myself watching Doug Demuro’s video of the Lamborghini Jalpa a number of moons ago. It made me think that despite Lamborghini being a desirable and celebrated brand in the modern age, if you were to show some of their past models to keen petrolheads, they might not be able to identify what they are.
Whereas most could tell you what a Huracan Performante or some latest edition of the Aventador is, some Lamborghinis did and still fall under the radar.
That’s what this – and some upcoming articles covering different marques – celebrates. The forgotten that were manufactured by the famous.
Lamborghini’s first production car was the 350GT in 1963 which was followed-up a few years by the 400GT. During the 400’s lifespan, the Miura unearthed itself to the world and it’s fair to say, it caused quite a stir.
So much of a stir in fact, that the 400GT’s successor was seemingly left only for the aficionados: the Islero.
Just 225 examples of the 2+2 grand tourer were ever made and came equipped with the Bizzarrini 3.9 litre V12 churning out 325bhp in ‘standard’ trim or 350bhp in the Islero S. The top speed was over 160mph and it could reach 60mph in just over six seconds. It really stood in the shadow of its sleeker brother, the Espada, to which over 1200 examples of that were produced.
To give you an idea of how rare the Islero is: its production run only makes for 1/3 of all Miuras!
This was Lamborghini’s answer to Ferrari’s Dino as a more compact, entry-level model to the brand. But unlike the car which Enzo named his son after, the little bull didn’t fare quite as successfully.
While nearly 4,000 examples of the Dino 206/246 GT were produced as well as more of the 308 GT4s, the Urraco could only be shifted 791 times – which made it clear that the Lamborghini brand wasn’t as desirable as Ferrari.
The Urraco had three engines on offer in the form of a 2.0 litre, 2.5 and 3.0 litre V8s and in the top sped P300 form, kicked out 250hp which was on par with Ferrari’s own 3.0 litre V8 of the time. It also looked rather gorgeous and is regarded as one of Gandini’s most notable work… behind the Miura and Countach of course.
The Jarama succeeded the Islero in 1970 and represented a more up-to-date take on what Lamborghini could do with their traditional front-engined 2+2 car. Like the Espada which it was built alongside, it was powered by the same 3.9 litre V12 churning out 350bhp.
Just 328 examples were ever made and it confirmed to Lamborghini that it just wasn’t worth making front-engined GT cars any longer.
Also like the Espada, it was made available with Chrysler’s 3-speed automatic Torqueflite gearbox but only 150 were ever optioned with it. Perhaps more interestingly, Ferruccio Lamborghini himself favoured the Jarama as his favourite Lambo and used one for himself! He described it as a ‘perfect compromise’ between the Miura and Espada.
What started out as a design exercise became a full-scale production car which represented a step-up from the Urraco. It was made for three years alongside the base car and they only managed to sell 54 of them.
The Silhouette used the 3.0 litre version of the Urraco’s V8 and produced 265bhp. It was also the first Lamborghini to have a targa roof (in production form at least).
With the wide arches and body modifications, it’s fairly easy to tell a Silhouette from its weaker brother.
The Jalpa eventually succeeded the Urraco as Lamborghini’s entry-level car and was even based upon it like the Silhouette.
It was as 80s as it was rare with only 410 ever made, making it much rarer than it’s bigger brother, the Countach. It housed a 3.5 litre version of the Urraco’s V8 and kicked out 250bhp which was enough to rival Ferrari’s 308 and 328 models which were also produced in the Jalpa’s lifespan.
When Chrysler bought Lamborghini in the late 80s, production of the Jalpa stopped and it wasn’t replaced until the much more modern, MUCH more successful Gallardo.
People remember the LM002 as Lamborghini’s crazy off-road military-inspired thing. But before that, there was this: the prototype dubbed the Cheetah.
It was developed in contract with Mobility Technology International (MTI) which was also contracted by the U.S military to produce a new all-terrain vehicle. The Cheetah was made in San Jose, California before being sent back to Lamborghini in Italy for the final details.
It had a rear-mounted 5.9 litre Chrysler V8 with a 3-speed automatic gearbox and this combined with the 2-tonne fibreglass body made it a poor performer in the way it handled. The contract from the U.S military was eventually given to AM General who went on to create the Humvee.
The cancellation of the Cheetah project – along with financial problems at Lamborghini – also led to canning the deal with BMW to produce the M1 supercar. The story of how the German car came about requires a separate article!
Nevertheless, this was the original design and engineering process before Lamborghini eventually went on to create the V12-powered LM002.
What is your favourite Lambo?