Rare Rides Icons: Lamborghini's Front-Engine Grand Touring Coupes (Part XII)

Ferruccio Lamborghini finally realized his dream of a proper four-seat grand touring coupe with the introduction of the Espada in 1968. The Espada entered production after a long and difficult styling process, which occurred simultaneously with a long and difficult engineering process. After multiple restyling attempts (and the use of a canned Jaguar coupe design), the Espada was produced in its Series I format from March 1968 to November 1969.

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Rare Rides Icons: Lamborghini's Front-Engine Grand Touring Coupes (Part XI)

It was a long, uphill battle to get the Espada into production. Seemingly no designer would deliver on Ferruccio Lamborghini’s desire for a four-seat grand touring coupe. While style was fine, outlandish design was unacceptable. Yet designers disappointed him on the Islero (which was supposed to be a real four-seater) and fought him on what became the Espada.


Marcelo Gandini at Bertone was forced to redesign the Espada more than once to comply with Lamborghini’s wishes, even though its Jaguar Pirana looks stayed intact. Gullwing doors were a favorite feature of Gandini’s, but Ferruccio declared they were ridiculous and impractical for such a car. And while the styling was being settled, there was quite a bit of new engineering taking place for the Espada, too.

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Rare Rides Icons: Lamborghini's Front-Engine Grand Touring Coupes (Part X)

In 1968, Lamborghini launched two new front-engine grand touring coupes at the same time. It was only the second time the company introduced two new models in the same model year. The two cars in question were the restrained and conservative Islero 2+2, and the larger more in-your-face Espada. While we covered Islero’s rapid demise previously in this series, the four-seat Espada had a much more successful life. 


It was the realization of a large four-seat coupe from company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, who’d wished for a car of said type since the company’s inception. The short-lived Islero turned into a last-of-moment for Lamborghini, as its sales flop proved the company with the raging bull logo was better served by more exciting, outlandish designs. 


We covered Espada's styling in our previous entry. Penned by Marcelo Gandini at Bertone, the Espada was nearly a Xerox copy of the Jaguar Pirana concept, at 125 percent magnification. But its large size and generous interior space for four caused some new challenges for Lamborghini’s engineers; the road to the production Espada was not a smooth one.

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Rare Rides Icons: Lamborghini's Front-Engine Grand Touring Coupes (Part IX)

We return to our timeline of front-engine Lamborghini GT coupes, but take a step back in time. Our last entry left us at the conclusion of 1969 when the slow-selling Islero ground to a halt. Dealers had a difficult time shifting all 225 examples of the Islero, comprising 125 regular Isleros and 100 of the upgraded Islero S.


Ferruccio Lamborghini dictated the Islero’s restrained and elegant design to Mario Marazzi, after several concepts to replace the aged 400GT did not meet with the boss’s approval. What Lamborghini was really after was a four-seat grand tourer in the finest tradition of grace and pace. The Islero fit most of those qualifications, but was a 2+2 and (as mentioned) almost impossible to sell. Luckily, there was another front-engine Lamborghini GT that debuted at almost the same time as Islero in 1968. Say hello to Espada.

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Rare Rides: There's a 1973 Alfa Romeo Montreal in - Where Else - Quebec

In our last Rare Rides entry we had a look at the oddball little BMW Freeclimber, a Daihatsu Rugger as edited by Italian design firm Bertone. Small SUVs has never been Bertone’s forte, however. No, the most well-known Bertone designs fall into the sports coupe category.

And here’s a prime example — the Alfa Romeo Montreal.

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  • 3SpeedAutomatic "...to make room for reality TV reruns..."What an insult!! Shows how far broadcast TV will stoop for a few extra bucks.I much appreciate Jay for keeping the "motor head" world alive in a Zoom society. However, maybe it's time for him to retire or semi-retire. There's enough material for him to do YouTube with most auto related companies willing to underwrite....but the number of shows would be at his own pace.I wish him well!!
  • Gregtwelve I had an '88 Turbo Coupe with 5 spd bought used and really liked it. I loved the looks, it had decent power for the time and a nice interior. Unfortunately the head gasket went at around 60K miles. I repaired it myself and sold it.
  • Mattwc1 I bought a Maverick specifically because I wanted utility and great fuel economy. My wife has a RAV4 hybrid that we really like. I think Toyota would print money with a smaller RAV4 based truck.
  • Varezhka Dunno. Looking at Maverick and Santa Cruz, having the engine in the front of the driver and a crew cab layout will mean the rear bed will be about the same size as kei trucks. And it will still be more than 16ft long. I'd rather get a Tacoma and/or a Hilux at that point.If we actually want a small truck with usable bed, it will have to be cab over layout with standard cab like Toyota TownAce Truck. We already know how popular that would be, even without getting into federal safety requirements.
  • SCE to AUX "Its militaristic, drab fortress presence, is some sort of reflection of the times."Very insightful comment in your excellent summary. The Cybertruck vs Hummer EV comparison tests will be enjoyable, sure to enflame their fans.