The Silhouette was introduced to the public at the 1976 Geneva Auto Show. The Silhouette was chosen in honor of the FIA Group 5 regulations. Internally, the Silhouette was codenamed the P118. The vehicle was a replacement for the disappointing Urraco super-car. The Urraco had been intended to be a high volume, mass-produced, and economically prosperous vehicle. Unfortunately, due to development and reputation problems, among other problems, the vehicle had actually moved the Lamborghini marque to the brink of financial disaster.
The Silhouette used many of the Urraco components, a move that was intended to minimize development costs and production problems. Sitting atop of the identical chassis used in the P300 Urraco, the P118 was given modified MacPherson struts and Pirelli P7 tires. The same Paolo Stanzani's eight-cylinder engine could be found mounted mid-ship, however, displacement was increased to 2995 cc and compression set at 10:1.1. The result was a 250 horsepower that could propel the vehicle from zero-to-sixty in just 5.9 seconds and top out at 154 mph.
The bodywork was handled by the famous coach-building company, Bertone. The result was a targa body the top removable and able to be placed behind the seats. The design was both elegant and mechanically perfect, with a balanced 50/50 weight distribution.
The interior was redesigned slightly from its predecessor. Gone were the rear seats in favor of extra storage room for the removable room. The vehicle could be ordered in either leather or cloth upholstery.
When debuted to the public at the Geneva Auto Show, it was an instant success. Problems began to arise due to homologation issues. Lamborghini was unable to take advantage of the US market. Troubles continued to compound for the company and it slowly slipped into financial unrest and a few years later were liquidating its assets. This meant that only 52 examples were ever produced with the final example ending in February of 1979.
It is unfortunate that the Silhouette was introduced at a time of uncertainty for the company. It was positioned to be prosperous, but unfortunately, its demise was due to finances. The company had learned much about the production through the earlier Urraco model; it had worked out the kinks and the bugs. The Silhouette was to be the result of lessons learned. The junior supercar had a potent engine, low weight, excellent weight distribution, stylish design, and performance mechanics. Its low production figures guarantee the vehicle's exclusivity in modern times.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007