Image credits: © Lamborghini.

1981 Lamborghini Jalpa P350 GTS

When the Mimram brothers took over the company in July 1980, establishing the 'Nuova Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini', the new owners did not only start production of the LM 002 off-road, but the evolution of the Silhouette as well, whose main points were: restyling the Bertone designed body, an 8-cylinder engine, expanded to 3.5 litres, with power still at 250 HP, but with far superior driving comfort. With 420 cars built, Jalpa is among the best-sellers – since production stopped in 1988 there were no other 8-cylinders from Lamborghini.

Source - Lamborghini
At the 1981 Geneva Auto Show the Lamborghini Silhouette replacement, the Lamborghini Jalpa, was debuted. They styling was the work of Bertone which had used the styling-cues from the Silhouette. The result was a super car that was not as angular as its predecessor but with a more modern appeal.

Like many other Lamborghini's, the name Jalpa was borrowed from a breed of fighting bulls. An eight-cylinder engine was mounted mid-ship providing 255 horsepower to the rear wheels. The vehicle was not without its problems but it was described as an easy to drive sports car with excellent handling and performance.

In 1984 the near-production version of the Jalpa was displayed at the Geneva Auto Show. The vehicle had gone through minor aesthetic and mechanical modifications including the circular tail lights. Production continued until July of 1988 after 416 examples were created, making this one of the most successful Lamborghini V8 production vehicle up to this point. Much of the success came from sales in the United States. The Silhouette was unable to be sold in the US due to emission regulations, a hurtle the Jalpa was able to overcome. In the end, sales began to dwindle and the Chrysler owned Automobili Lamborghini SpA decided to halt production of the baby-Lambo. Even with 416 examples produced, the Jalpa is an exclusive vehicle even by today's standards.


By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2009
The Lamborghini Jalpa was the spiritual predecessor of the newer Lamborghini Gallardo. Both cars offered mammoth performance levels compared to their contemporary competitors, yet both were overshadowed by their larger, more potent, and wholly uncompromising siblings. In the Jalpa's case, that big brother was the Countach. Stunningly styled by the radical Marcello Gandini, the Countach's fantastic bodywork held one of the most exotic engines in the world at the time, a longitudinally-mounted V12 with high levels of power and higher levels of hostility. The Jalpa was no match.

What the Jalpa lost in sensationalistic press coverage and celebrity glitz, though, it gained back in drivability and exclusivity. The Jalpa's 3.5 liter V8, which produced 255hp at 7,000rpm, was a phenomenal athlete who's much smaller size when compared to the Countach allowed the Jalpa to be a more tractable commuter car. Of course most don't buy a Lamborghini as their city commute daily driver, but the Jalpa had another, less tangible advantage over its Countach counterpart. Only 416 Jalpas were sold. This means that you'll likely see a couple of Countachs rolling around before you notice a single Jalpa. Bigger exclusivity doesn't always equate to bigger price.

Lamborghini introduced the Jalpa to Countach-crazed crowds at the 1981 Geneva Auto Show. A proposed successor to the Silhouette, the car on display was a near-production prototype. It underwent minor changes before being adopted as 1982's production model. Following Lamborghini's tradition of incorporating engine displacement into vehicle designations, the Jalpa was also called the P350 GT or P3500 due to its 3.5 liter engine. The original car, like so many of its contemporaries, had somewhat ungainly black bumpers front and rear, as well as some other bare black body pieces, most notably the large, side-mounted air intakes.

At the 1984 Geneva Auto Show, the Jalpa matured into a better looking car when its black body pieces were replaced by slicker body-colored units. This gave the design a tighter, more cohesive feel. Also incorporated into the face lifted model were circular taillights and minor mechanical improvements. This minor redesign created a car with better looks and better performance than the original.

As Lamborghini's entry-level model, the Jalpa was squarely aimed at taking on the Ferrari 308 and later the Ferrari 328. Like the Jalpa, both Ferraris had attractive angular styling, impressive V8 powerplants, and the available charisma of a targa top, which was standard on the Lamborghini. While the Ferraris offered tastefully proportioned lines by Pininfarina, the Lamborghini took a rather menacing stylistic course. Its huge fenders, squat shape, and striking 16 inch wheels with large discs in the center made the car look almost as alien as the wild Countach. The Jalpa's jutting air intakes and uncompromising lines created a car that looked both purposeful and intimidating. The effect was dramatic and, combined with the car's rarity, meant that seeing a Jalpa on the street was a much more special occasion than noticing one of the relatively high production Ferraris.

Sadly, the Jalpa's rarity meant that Lamborghini was not being helped financially by the slow seller. Chrysler, the owner of Lamborghini at the time of the Jalpa's demise, pulled the plug on this charming Italian for 1988. Always the affordable Lamborghini, the NADA lists the average price of a Jalpa in today's market at right around $25,000. If you like answering questions every time you stop your car, this could be a great alternative to that new Camry.

If you would like to discover more about the Lamborghini Jalpa, try visiting http://www.jalpa.ch/. The through supply of information available here helped make this article possible.

By Evan Acuña

Concepts by Lamborghini

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