1969 Lamborghini Espada 400 GT

The Lamborghini Marzal show car sat atop a longer Miura chassis and given a six-cylinder engine in 'vee' configuration and mounted mid-ship. It was shown at the 1967 Geneva Auto Show. The Lamborghini Pirana was a show car that sat atop a Jaguar E-Type chassis. Both were designed and built by the famous coachbuilder Bertone. The Lamborghini Espada draws its styling cues from both of these concepts. The Marzal design was deemed to excessive for Lamborghini, plus it was void of the legendary 12-cylinder power-plant.

Marcello Gandini, an employee of Bertone, was tasked by Feruccio Lamborghini to design and build a Gran Turismo vehicle based on both the Marzal and the Pirana. It was to be a 2+2 GT car suitable for the rich and the powerful that could carry them on long trips. In the front was to be a 3.9 liter twelve-cylinder engine capable of producing 325 horsepower. The first prototype featured wing-doors which were later replaced in future designs with normal doors. The car appeared to be long due to its short height and wide stance. The hood was comprised of aluminum while steel was used for the remained of the vehicle. This meant the vehicle was heavy, weighing in at over 3,300 pounds.

The original series was known as the Series I. In 1970, the series became known as the Series II, also referred to as the 400 GTE Espada. This series had vented disc brakes on all four corners, an improved 350 horsepower engine, and modified dashboard. Power assisted steering was offered as optional equipment to help combat the complaints of 'heavy steering'. The Series II lasted until 1973 when Lamborghini introduced the Series III. The series were given improved suspension and brakes, improvements to the front aesthetics, and a newly designed dashboard. An automatic Chrysler Torqueflight transmission was optional equipment. Powering steering was now standard equipment. The bumpers were enlarged to comply with the US safety regulations.

The S1 (1968-1970), S2 (1970-1972) and the S3 (1972-1978) are hard to distinguish. The changes that were employed were minor, and often were improvements to the mechanics rather than the aesthetics.

During its production run, lasting from 1968 through 1978, 1217 examples were produced making it the most successful Lamborghini model up to that point. It had been the Italian manufacturer's first attempt at creating a 2+2 GT sports car. Although the marque was famous for their sports cars, the luxurious 2+2 grand tourer endured great success for the company during its ten year producing life-span. The Espada was a practical and civilized sports car. It leather interior was plush and the optional push-button AM/FM radio, air conditioning, and fog lights, to name a few, made the vehicle accommodating to every customers wish and desire.

There were 186 Series I, 575 Series II, and 456 of the Series III.


By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007

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