Automobili Lamborghini was a very young and very daring company when it introduced the Espada in 1968. While Ferruccio Lamborghini had been in the tractor and farm equipment business for quite some time, he was still very much a newcomer in the sports car world. But that didn’t stop him from taking some rather bold steps to develop new cars. His first full production car, the 400GT was a rather conventional machine with a front engine, rear-wheel drive layout, a magnificent 60 degree V12 and elegant Carrozzeria Touring coachwork. On the other end of the spectrum was the outrageous and magnificent Miura – the father of the modern Supercar and the first production car with a transverse, mid-mounted engine. The technologically advanced Miura chassis was wrapped in breathtaking bodywork designed by Bertone. Ferruccio had envisioned a car to fit between these two models, one that could ferry his wealthy clientele across the continent in great style and comfort. While the 400GT and Islero offered 2+2 seating, it was hardly a place to put four adults for a long journey. This new car should carry four adults in comfort but return thundering performance at the same time. The Espada (Spanish for a bullfighter’s sword) would debut in 1968 with dramatic bodywork penned by Marcello Gandini of Bertone. The Espada was fitted with a 3.9 liter 60 degree V12 fed by six sidedraught Weber carburetors. A robust, Lamborghini-designed 5-speed gearbox was mated to the V12 with tall gearing that returned a 150+ mph top speed. In the end, the Espada proved to be Lamborghini’s most popular model to date with 1217 units built over a 10 year period. Today, the Espada has gained a loyal and ever-growing following as its wild styling has found favor with enthusiasts who also appreciate it for the fabulous, comfortable and usable GT car that it is.
Our featured example is a desirable 1971 Series II model which is identifiable by the revised dashboard layout, the fabulous Miura-style Campagnolo knock-off alloy wheels with revised hex-type nuts, and a bump in compression to 10.7:1, returning a healthy 345 horsepower. This is a wonderfully honest and original car that has never been restored, but instead has been exceptionally well maintained throughout its life. The wild, menacing Bertone styling looks simply fantastic in its rare full black color scheme. It is equipped with the 5-speed manual gearbox, factory air conditioning and an am/fm radio. The body and structure are straight and solid on this Texas car, with very good paint and panel fit. It’s a very original car that may not be a showpiece, but it is a very handsome and honest car. The chrome and stainless trim is straight, complete and very attractive – in keeping with the originality of the paint and body.
Mechanically, this Espada is very well sorted. Recent work includes a front-end rebuild and the complex and somewhat finicky ignition system has been updated with a modern solid state control box for added reliability. Further evidence of maintenance abounds in this fine car as it drives wonderfully and returns astonishingly strong performance. Engine bay cosmetics are solid and original, consistent with the unrestored nature of this Espada.
Of course, the best way to experience an Espada is from within the luxurious and stylish cabin. This is a genuine four seat car with a surprising amount of room for four passengers. The extensive black leather is in fantastic condition, displaying a warm and welcoming patina on the seats, dash and wood trim. The leather is supple and the black carpets are tidy and original.
Super 70s looks, supercar performance and full four-seat practicality combine to make the Espada one of the most unique and distinctive automobiles of all time. Few have survived in such fine original condition, making this a rare opportunity to get your hands on a wonderfully sorted and turnkey Espada that is primed and ready for a cross-country blast.
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