By on March 5, 2018

Image: 1985 Lamborghini JalpaBright 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.

Image: 1985 Lamborghini JalpaThough 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.

Image: 1985 Lamborghini JalpaThe 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.

Image: 1985 Lamborghini JalpaThat’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.

Image: 1985 Lamborghini JalpaThis 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.

Image: 1985 Lamborghini JalpaAn 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.

Image: 1985 Lamborghini JalpaThe 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?

Image: 1985 Lamborghini Jalpa[Images via seller]

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31 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Lamborghini Jalpa Is the Essence of 1985...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I think it’s a pretty sharp looking car in white.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Transverse mid-rear engine layouts are just strange to see nowadays. The last car I can think of with such an arrangement is the original Honda/Acura NSX.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    The Jalpa always reminds me of Rocky IV.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    If this was originally white on white, all it needed for the Junk Bond Dealer Trifecta Trim Package was white-painted wheels.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Wow, I don’t recall ever seeing one of these in person.

    I don’t know much about it, but anything with a Targa top gets my attention, now I am in a real pickle. I have to make some room in my fantasy garage for one of these.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Thievin’ bastards! They stole the Corvette’s alloy wheel design!

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    Even better looking than the Miura. Yeah, I said it.

  • avatar

    Ugly! Too many mid-80s styling cliches. The Uracco, on which this thing was apparently based, was far more handsome (although I could do without all the louvers).

    http://en.classicpark.com/car/477/lamborghini-urraco

  • avatar
    mcs

    Not sure why they are asking so much. It should be in the $60k to $80k range.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I think this is the only Rare Ride I’ve seen on the street so far. It was a black one in Regina, SK. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but whatever it was it was cool and looked authentically exotic so when it stopped beside us at a light I gave him the thumbs up from the passenger seat (of either an RX-8 or S4).

    http://www.exoticspotter.com/lamborghini-jalpa-regina-canada-122055

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve only ever seen one of these in real life. I have a strange affection this car and the Ferrari Mondial, one of several Ferrari’s I’ve managed to drive in.

    After seeing these photos, I hear in my mind Simple Minds “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”…

  • avatar
    Aron9000

    Pretty sure Lieutenant Castillo drove a black Jalpa in several episodes of Miami Vice, when he was undercover. That car and its color kind of suited his personality, dark, sparse of words, brooding, eyes that would turn you into a pillar of salt, but always a good, righteous man who looked after his people.

  • avatar
    Jaeger

    Needs more front overhang.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Love it, probably my third favourite Lambo after the Countach and Espada. I remember seeing one on the road when I was a little kid, but none since then. Don’t see it ever appreciating in value beyond very low 6 digits, it’s one of those cult classics along with the most of the other pre-Diablo Lamborghinis (other than the Miura and Countach) and 60’s-80’s Maseratis (other than the Ghibli). Agree with the other comments that this is worth ~75k probably.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Best feature in this car are the removable visor mirrors.

    And lots of thing today need more front overhang, we’ll start with the Caddy XTS.

  • avatar
    beken

    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.

  • avatar
    russification

    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

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