The Lamborghini Story

told through the cars they built


By 1973 upstart manufacturers such as Lotus and Porsche were taking sizeable chunks of the market for sports coupes. Lamborghini's Uracco (The name means 'little bull') was brought out as a direct challenge to them.

A lot of thought gone into the design of this car, and it had taken three years from the first drawings by Marcello Gandini of Bertone to the final launch. The Uracco was a mid-engined 2+2 with, initially, a two litre V8 overhead camshaft engine giving it a top speed of 134 mph. This may seem a little puny by previous Lamborghini standards but it was meant to be a fun sports car rather than a luxurious muscle one.

A good-looking car it was too. It was sleek and futuristic, with pop-up headlights so that in the closed position they wouldn't interfere with the aerodynamic shape of the body. The front windshield was deeply raked, and the cover over the mid-mounted engine was louvred. All round independent MacPherson strut suspension gave the car rock solid roadholding. To stop the car there were large vented disc brakes all round.

Along twisty roads this was a wonderfully exhilarating car to drive, and Lamborghini confidently expected sales of around 2000 a year. Unfortunately the buying public thought otherwise.

The problem was price. In 1973 the asking price was about £9500. This would have bought almost three Lotus Elan +2s or a brace of Porsche 911s. Okay it was cheaper than the Ferrari Dino or Maserati Merak but these were super cars produced by well-established manufacturers with excellent reputations. And a lot of potential buyers remembered the rust problems of the Espada.

Despite engine upgrades, first to 2.5 litre and then 3 litre, eventually only 780 were sold by the time that manufacture of it ended in 1979. By then a world oil and financial crises had developed and sales had dropped sharply. In 1974 Ferruccio Lamborghini had gone off to concentrate on wine making and the company entered a turbulent time in it's history.