The Lamborghini Story

told through the cars they built


The Lamborghini Espada was a very exciting looking car and was named after a sword that was used by matadors to kill bulls. Despite it's unsavoury name it was, at least initially, an excellent quality car but it had a major defect; of which more to come later.

The chassis was of a new design, made of pressed steel and steel box section. The engine was the usual 3.9 litre Lamborghini V12 in a front engined, rear wheel drive layout. Performance figures were quite creditable with later series achieving 156 mph and 0-60 in 6.6 seconds; not bad for a two-door coupe with four bucket seats and a very comfortable interior. This was grand touring at it's best.

Although it started with a five-speed manual gearbox later series offered an automatic box, power steering and air conditioning. This was most definitely not a car aimed at boy racers.

With such good looks it was not surprising that sales were good; over 10 years more than 1200 Espadas were built, and the list of owners included such notable people as novelist Alistair Maclean, the Shah of Iran and Mr Paul McCartney.

The problem was that they were buying a load of trouble.

These were complex cars but Lamborghini didn't bother to provide workshop manuals. Perhaps they felt that foreign owners should ship their cars back to Italy every time they needed a service or repair job. Far worse than this though was a problem which was common with some other Italian car manufacturers during the 1970s; corrosion.

It may have been the fact that Italian manufacturers simply didn't consider rust to be such a problem. It could have been the steel that was available at the time; it was rumoured that much of it came from Russia as part of a complex barter deal, and it was of pretty awful quality. Then again it could have been the design of the car. Whatever it was, rusting was noticeable even on fairly new Espadas; and putting it right was very expensive indeed.

There was a claim that U2 singer Bono spent more than US$40,000 renovating an Espada and then found that it only fetched US$33,000 at auction.

If you are thinking of buying one, either for personal use or investment; that is if you can find one that isn't already just a pile of brown dust in a scrapyard; perhaps you should think again.