Rare Rides: The Lamborghini Jalpa Is the Essence of 1985

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the lamborghini jalpa is the essence of 1985

Bright red paint, an interior to hide even the largest cocaine spillage, a targa roof, and sweet deep dish aero alloys all help define the Lamborghini Jalpa as a product of its era.

It’s the one everyone forgets as their minds gravitate to the older Countach or the newer Diablo.

Though the Jalpa debuted for the 1981 model year, it was neither an original design for Lamborghini nor its first targa-roofed vehicle. That honor goes to the little-known Silhouette — a Bertone design which sold in very small numbers (54 to be exact) between 1976 and 1979.

The Jalpa is the result of Bertone and Lamborghini taking lessons learned from the Silhouette and applying them to a more mass-market vehicle. The Jalpa was the first Lamborghini designed with practicality in mind, and an eye toward affordability. Much less expensive than the Countach, it also had better visibility and was easier to drive in everyday traffic situations.

That’s not to say it was slow or underpowered, because mounted in the middle was a 3.5-liter V8 engine. Featuring modern dual overhead cams, it produced 255 horsepower. That power could rocket the (Malaise era, mind you) Jalpa to 60 miles an hour in 6 seconds if you asked Lamborghini, or 6.8 seconds if you asked Classic & Sports Car magazine.

This performance stayed the same right through the Jalpa’s life, and exterior changes were minor as well. The original Uracco-like tail lamps from the Silhouette were swapped for new, round versions circa 1984.

An end came for the Jalpa in 1988, as Lamborghini received new American ownership. Chrysler saw the Jalpa’s dwindling sales figures and brought down the axe, leaving the aged Countach to carry on alone for one final year. In 1990, it was replaced by the new Diablo. Over eight model years 410 Jalpas were produced, making it the second most successful V8 Lamborghini to date, behind the Uracco.

The red 1985 model we’ve been eyeing today was originally white on white, per the sale ad. It’s done just over 16,000 miles, and is listed with a Buy It Now of $135,000. Is this one of the forgotten supercars which will shoot up in value later? Or is it the easily forgotten, cheaper sidebar of an exotic automaker’s portfolio?

[Images via seller]

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  • Beken Beken on Mar 06, 2018

    There was a time when I was in university where I had a girlfriend that had a red Lamborghini Silhouette. It was a slightly lighter can than the Jalpa. Neither car, I could afford at the time. Still my favorite of Lamborghinis. Not as over the top outrageous as the Countach at the time.

  • Russification Russification on Mar 19, 2018

    this was one of my favorite cars from the 1980s. my dad had a subscription to road and track, car and driver, and this car in particular held my attention. Sylvester stallone drives on in rocky II. its faster than the 308 (to my knowledge) and far more exotic, nobody has one. In the 1980s, you could easily find schlitz malt liquor at any convenience, store, wash down a few forty's till your eyes crossed, and climb in behind the wheel of one of these without anybody being the wiser(this was the 1980s, the only hard drugs available were injected with needles and anything else would cause heart attack from overdose, big pharma had yet to mobilize its black R&D efforts to turn people to sh_t by stretching out drug habits and physiological limitations) I would hazard to guess that many people met their ends driving these cars and those that didnt arent talking about it. heres to one of my favorite all time cars that I drifted off in class drawing pictures of while ignoring the teacher. thanks for posting

  • Kat Laneaux Wonder if they will be able to be hacked into (the license plates) and then you get pulled over for invalid license plates or better yet, someone steal your car and transpose numbers to show that they are the owners. Just a food for thought.
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  • MaintenanceCosts I think if there's one thing we can be sure of given Toyota's recent decisions it's that the strongest version of the next Camry will be a hybrid. Sadly, the buttery V6 is toast.A Camry with the Highlander/Sienna PSD powertrain would be basically competitive in the sedan market, with the slow death of V6 and big-turbo options. But for whatever reason it seems like that powertrain is capacity challenged. Not sure why, as there's nothing exotic in it.A Camry with the Hybrid Max powertrain would be bonkers, easily the fastest thing in segment. It would likewise be easy to build; again, there's nothing exotic in the Hybrid Max powertrain. (And Hybrid Max products don't seem to be all that constrained, so far.)
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