Home » How Lamborghini Should Remake The Espada And Reclaim The ‘Gentleman’s GT’ Market It Ceded To Ferrari

How Lamborghini Should Remake The Espada And Reclaim The ‘Gentleman’s GT’ Market It Ceded To Ferrari

Topshot Espada Ts
ADVERTISEMENT

With the recent passing of Marcello Gandini, the Autopian attempted to let people know that the great car designer did far more than just design the Lamborghini Countach that appeared in virtually every obituary on social media. Running counter to that, our site was trying to stress the fact that Gandini also worked on things like sedans and even semi-trucks, yet surprisingly the takeaway I got from all of this coverage had more to do with Lamborghini itself. Namely it got me thinking: How did Lamborghini lose its way in the coupe market after offering such a gem in the Espada?

Tears Of A Clone

We know that human cloning is a big no-no, but let’s say somehow we can secretly bring back Ferruccio Lamborghini from some DNA frozen since the late sixties. Suddenly the legendary man in his prime is sitting across from me, and asking questions about the company that bears his name (remember, Ferruccio sold off all of his interest in the firm by 1974).

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Now half a century in the future from where he was, Ferruccio understandably has many questions. “So, Bishop, what is the image of the person who buys my cars these days?” he asks. Oh, shit; I hesitate for a moment, not sure what to say, knowing the unfair, often-untrue-but-common memes about Lamborghini buyers. “Well, sir, it’s a wide range of people, though unfortunately, uh, a popular conception is they’re preferred by nouveau riche clods including tech bros, NFL players, pop stars who call them out in their lyrics as Lambos, and divorce attorneys who adorn them with vanity plates that read WINNING.”  To be clear: These car stereotypes are not correct; if they were I’d be a dentist who doesn’t use turn signals based on my own cars; I am not a dentist.

Mr. Lamborghini has a rather flush look on his face. “This NFL, is that a corporate conglomerate?” he asks. Well, sir, those are football players. Ferruccio appears shocked and a bit disappointed. “Yes, yes, I can see such extroverted people with a Miura. After all, that’s at least partially who I created it for. But I want to know who buys my less flamboyant, more mass-market GT cars; you know, current versions of things like the 400GT and Islero?”

Early Touring
Bring A Trailer, Bring A Trailer

Oh, Lord, this is getting tough. “Mr. Bishop, what Lamborghini do my primary clientele of forty-something captains of industry and high society with two children drive?” Lord, have mercy. How am going to let the great man know that for them a Lamborghini is likely just a third- or fourth-car toy? Do I tell him that they could maybe buy a Lamborghini SUV? No, since he’d be imagining a bonkers-ass LM002 and not a version of a high-end VW crossover. Man, this is awkward. “Sir, I’m afraid that Lamborghini no longer makes four-seat coupes”.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Well!” sighs Ferruccio, throwing his hands up, “I would assume that asshole Enzo stopped making ‘gentleman’s GTs’ long ago as well, right? Yes?” Ouch! Now I gotta let him know that Ferrari never, ever did stop building 2+2 two-doors. How do I admit to Mr. Lamborghini that if the CEO of Global Megacorporation or the Princess of Sweden (the lady in the pic below) wants an understated and restrained-looking coupe that he or she can put a briefcase or booster in the back seat of, it will likely have a prancing horse on the hood over a Ferrari V12?

Ferrari Touring 3 23
Beverly Hills Car Club, Bring A Trailer, Ferrari, Kungahuset

Man, is our cloned sixties-era Mr. Lamborghini ever pissed now. Why? Because he believes that for every celebrity and sports figure who wants an orange-with-black-wheels hypercar, there are five times as many married-with-kids eight-figure-net-worth people who want a touring GT in grey or a lovely shade of deep lapis blue like those Ferraris. (Don’t get me wrong; a Huracan is an awesome car and I’m unabashedly jealous of those who own one, but even if I was a one-percenter with the means to get one my nine and eleven-year-old boys would ask me where the hell they’re supposed to sit in it, while my wife would declare it to be a loud ox-cart-riding piece of shit).

No wonder they banned cloning; this is no fun at all for either me or the revived Mr. Lamborghini.

The Italian Rolls Royce

You can be forgiven for thinking that the car company that tractor-builder Ferruccio Lamborghini began was started to make cars more outrageous than those from his Modena rival, wrong as that is. Ferruccio’s original intent was to make refined grand touring cars that were more useable than those of Ferrari. A successful entrepreneur, Mr. Lamborghini had personally owned Ferraris, found issues with them, and been highly disappointed by the response the company (and Enzo himself) had to his complaints. At the time, sales of Ferrari’s road cars were very much a means to get cash for funding racing, and Ferruccio wanted to change those priorities with the cars he’d build. Lamborghini’s early cars did delivery on his promise.

Based on the number of posters that most of us kids had of it, it would be easy to imagine that Lamborghini’s best seller from 1968 to 1978 was the Countach. Not even remotely close. During this time, the company sold fewer than 200 Countaches but moved 1227 examples of an outstanding but somewhat controversial-looking four-seater called the Espada.

ADVERTISEMENT
Espada 3 23 Composite
Net Car Show

To quote the real Ferruccio (and not my imagined cloned one):

“The Rolls-Royce is a good car. It is quiet and comfortable and quite fast, but it is too upright and stodgy … In Italy, we need a car with every luxury for those who want to travel far and fast and can afford it. But it must have style and it must be beautiful. That is even more important than convenience”.

Like many of Marcello Gandini’s creations, the Espada is an impossibly low and long-looking granturismo that challenges the traditional standards of what most consider to be a “beautiful” car. Many without the ability to appreciate the looks call it downright ugly, which only warms the heart of car snob jerks like me who love the thing. It’s certainly purposeful in the fact that its “bread van” -like shape allows for exceptional headroom for adult rear seat passengers in this front V12-engined car. True to Lamborghini’s vision, “the Italian Rolls Royce” offered luxury not commonly associated with cars of this nation, but when the hammer went down there was no mistaking it for anything other than a Lamborghini.

I’ve linked this video below before, but it’s funny to see our friend Daddy Doug doing his usual snarky bashing and snickering about this old GT car before getting behind the wheel. I don’t think I’ve seen one of his videos where he changes his opinions so drastically. To quote Gene Levy: “You think you hate it now, but wait ’till you drive it”.

Doug nearly gushes. “You could just kill hundreds and hundreds of miles in this car…I’ve got lots of room in here” he says, amazed at the ride and quiet despite still being able to push this big old car much harder than he had expected possible. “I always wondered who bought the Espada, but I can understand now. A person that wants a Lamborghini that doesn’t draw all the attention of something like a Miura but still sounds amazing…this car is certainly that, and very special”.

ADVERTISEMENT

 

Another great advantage of the Espada (and also any four-seat Ferrari, really) is that they tend to be undervalued, underrated machines as used cars that poor suckers like myself could even imagine buying with a home equity loan if I could convince the person then shares a toothbrush holder with me that it’s an “investment”. Jay Leno daily drove the Espada he bought used in the mid-eighties (for the price of a then-new base 1986 BMW 528e) as his sole mode of transportation, and he owns the same car to this day. If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, at least listen to the sound of the thing in the first thirty seconds:

 

I somehow remember reading an automotive journalist recant that in the seventies three or four of them were discussing what the best Lamborghini model was while traveling together in supreme comfort in a car for hours at over 100 miles an hour. The fact that the car they were having this conversation in at the time was an Espada answers that question for me.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bulls With Back Seats

Lamborghini has previously floated the idea of something other than a two-seater car (that wasn’t an SUV). One was the Portofino show car from the era when the company had the cash to spend due to ownership by Lee Iacocca’s Chrysler. This Jalpa-based mid-engined concept featured four “Lambo doors” and dramatic looks (that seemed to inspire the later LH Dodge Intrepid) that wowed showgoers in 1987:

Portofino 3 23
Chrysler/Stellantis

More recently, the company has shown us the 2008 Estoque show car (still featured on the Lamborghini site), which is attractive but much more of a traditional four door sedan:

Estoque
Lamborghini

These concepts never saw production, and none of them were 2-doors like the offerings from their Modena rival. No, I want to see a real GT car with a front engine to get back to the core values that Ferruccio seemed to espouse back at the dawn of his car brand. Pencil, pen, and Photoshop are at the ready to provide a solution.

Encore De Espada

Damn, it just kills me that there isn’t a Lamborghini V-12 for us to use in our revival; we’ll have to stick with the current (and admittedly shorter) V-10 up front. However, I’d like to put the transmission in the back as it is on my other all-time favorite GT car, the Porsche 928. It will not be the fastest or most agile Lamborghini you can buy, but if you’re bothered by the fact that it would likely take a little over three seconds to get to sixty miles an hour that’s just fine.

As I said, the polarizing shape of the Espada actually serves a very functional purpose, and it’s the same reason that sporting GT cars from the 1974 Lotus Elite up the current Ferrari Lusso use it. You simply can’t get reasonable rear headroom in a car with a sharply raked backlight, so the “breadvan” profile is rather essential. We’ll copy that shape with our reimagined model, and also add some of the brand language from the hypercar two-seaters, such as the front end, the scalloped rocker panels and the plane below beltline that becomes nearly horizontal as it moves back the length of the car and then arcs forwards to create a scoop in the “C” pillar. The scoops have ducting that feed opening vents for rear seat passengers (you’ll see them when we get inside in a minute) and the transmission cooler in back. In a salute to the great Gandini, the wheel arch opening will have classic forward rake at the top (still used on the Urus SUV).

ADVERTISEMENT

Main View 1 Esp

The Espada did a great job of providing the space needed inside for comfort without looking like a full-on shooting brake. The trick (which we’ll use here too) was that the nearly horizontal backlight gently angled downwards but was complemented by a nearly vertical second rear screen. If you think that the Espada influenced cars like the second generation CRX and the Toyota Prius, you probably aren’t wrong. Our new design will have a honeycomb-hexagon pattern full-width taillight that sits stationary inside the car, behind the vertical second backlight; washer jets and a vertical wiper slides left to right across the width of this window to clear not only rear visibility but also viewing of the taillight (you can see the blade on the far right of the window). Unlike the original Espada, the vertical window would raise with the hatch for better luggage access.

Rear View

How Many Hexagons? All Of Them

For the interior of the new Espada, I’m using the Lamborghini Marzal concept as inspiration. It’s the show car on which the production Espada was based and made its debut at the 1967 Grand Prix of Monaco (speaking of royalty, it was driven by Prince Ranier and Princess Grace). Most new Lamborghinis have the hexagon motif on the interior, which might date back to the wild-ass super hexagon theme inside the Marzal:

Marzal 3 23
Lamborghini, Lamborghini

While current Lamborghini model dashboards feature some hexagon shapes, this new Espada will have all of the hexagons money can buy. Hazard button? Hexagon. Cup holders? Hexagon. Frames around the center screen? You guessed it. Steering wheel? Round. No, just kidding, it’s a hexagon. Hexagon frames surround the driver’s reconfigurable gauge screens; the centrally located Bulgari movement dashboard clock is the only mechanical analog instrument.

ADVERTISEMENT

Interior Lambo Espada

The seats have that sort of “Cobra” snake look with a hexagonal upper shape that includes aircraft-style flip-out side headrests (like the Comfort Seats in BMWs). Everything is swathed in crème-colored Connolly-style leather. Do you want black seats with retina-searing lime-colored inserts or off-white vegan hides? You’ll need to look at the other models in the Lamborghini lineup, or another car altogether.

Just like the original Espada, the rear seats are quite spacious due to the near-horizontal roof over this part of the passenger compartment (and admittedly very low cushions). Technically a “2+2” you could realistically put adults under about five-foot-eleven tall back there for extended periods of time, just as with the 1968 car (though the transmission in the back would also reduce seat width). Still, the real play here is to allow seating for children who would have more than enough area. Between the seats, the vertical surface flips down to access a refrigerator for champagne or, well, water bottles and sippy cups.

Lambo Rear Seat

The horizontal surface armrest covers a storage bin, and there are additional bins on the side panels with flip-up doors to hide the crap associated with kids like the Pokemon Quagsire stuffed toy, iPad, blanket, and toy Countach 5000S shown (sippy cup is already on the floor dammit). The split line in the seats is where they can fold forwards so if the Princess sees a lovely piece of contemporary art that’s over five feet long at the gallery it can be carried home in “the little car” instead of having it delivered or needing her staff to come get it. Again, this vehicle is not a plaything; like the original Espada we are talking about a Real Car that just happens to have all of the qualities you’d expect from a classic Lamborghini.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rally Round The Family

In an enjoyable Sixty Minutes piece from 1986 on the Countach, a spokesman from Lamborghini is asked who exactly would buy such a supercar. The representative gives a colorful description of a man and his beautiful female passenger traversing Europe with their luggage following a few hours later in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce or other such car behind.

That’s a cool story, but a horrendous marketing plan. There are a lot of wealthy people out there, and I’d venture to say that the majority of them are not bachelor playboys. Lamborghini nearly doubled the sales of the brand by adding an SUV, and a more sporting but practical touring car probably won’t hurt their bottom line. Lamborghini The Man knew this from the outset, and the world hasn’t changed that much from fifty years ago, right? Not everyone wants an SUV…right?

Gandini and Ferruccio are gone now, but Lamborghini’s initial raison d’etre was touring GTs, and he was damn good at it. He arguably beat Ferrari at that game then, and his namesake company should try it once more. If only because I want it to, and because heritage means something.

Relatedbar

What It Might Have Looked Like If Iacocca Had Made A Full Range Of Lamborghini Models Based On Cheap Chryslers – The Autopian

ADVERTISEMENT

Our Daydreaming Designer Re-Imagines Vector If They Made Amphibious Supercars – The Autopian

A Daydreaming Designer Imagines An AMC Sports Car Based On The Look Of The Pacer – The Autopian

Our Daydreaming Designer Imagines A Rotary-Powered, Italian-Designed Sportscar That Never Was – The Autopian

 

 

ADVERTISEMENT
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
41 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
18 days ago

This kicks butt!

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
19 days ago

Shut up and take my hypothetical Powerball winnings.

Myk El
Myk El
19 days ago

I like Bishop’s updated concept better than I like the original visually.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
20 days ago

A small error: Ferrari ended the GTC4Lusso production in 2020 so no 2024 model as depicted in one of the photos.

The Bishop
The Bishop
19 days ago
Reply to  EricTheViking

Indeed, now they’ve abandoned the market too! Thanks for the correction!

Mike F.
Mike F.
20 days ago

Nicely done! There was a place near my high school back in the day that had an Espada in the showroom, and it always intrigued me. I wasn’t sure whether I loved it or hated it, but it kept my attention. I like the redesign and love the hexagons – as a chemist, I tend to enjoy the aromatic ring stuff.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
20 days ago

This was good Bishop sir. If only it would make to the market at around 30-40 grand I would definitely buy it.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
19 days ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Lol. That would probably not have the same charm though. Some sort of shooting brake Charger maybe?

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
20 days ago

I feel like Lamborghini is happy that they cornered the semi-successful, soon to become bankrupt football player demographic and don’t really feel the need to go after gentlemen with an Espada revival. I do like the proposed design, although if they were going for a new demographic, maybe that front could use a little less modern Lambo and a little more Marzal.

Alpine 911
Alpine 911
20 days ago

Brilliant as always. Really like your design to the point that I would buy it.

For glorious insights on the Espada, suggest Harry’s Garage on YouTube

Carlos Ferreira
Carlos Ferreira
20 days ago

Love it! Hot Wheels created something along the same lines in the form of the Dimacchini Veloce.

https://hotwheels.fandom.com/wiki/Dimachinni_Veloce

James Carson
James Carson
20 days ago

Love it except for the bull-buos flares. Smooth them out and I’ll spend virtual money on one.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
20 days ago

why can’t we just Lambo the Panamera wagon? Or Lambo the RS6? It once had a Lambo engine, for god sakes

10001010
10001010
20 days ago

Yet again Bishop knocks it out of the park. This is beautiful, way better looking than the Aventawhatever the new one is called. However, since I rely on my skeleton that Moopsy in the backseat is absolutely terrifying.

10001010
10001010
20 days ago
Reply to  The Bishop

That’s somewhat reassuring, I’m not 100% up on my Pokemans lore.

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
20 days ago

I love the Espada, and this is my favorite of the car rebirths you have posted.

The wheel arches need toned down a bit – otherwise you nailed it!

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
20 days ago

I’m afraid I am one of those who lacks the ability to appreciate the Espada. I enjoy the Islero aesthetic much more. Its a very interpretation of the modern Lambo on the breadvan body, don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to slight the Bishops quality of work. Its just made out of bits that I don’t like individually, or when put together.

Were I somehow bizarrely in this market, a Ferrari it would be for me. But I would prefer, if I’m spending lots of monies on a GT car, to build a modified Jensen Interceptor with a hellcat and a six speed in it.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
20 days ago
Reply to  The Bishop

There is that company out there building restomod Interceptors called the Interceptor S and R. They do really nice things to fix the underbite up front, but it has always saddened me that they use LS/LT motors for the powertrain, when the Hemi is right there begging for sweet continuity of Chrysler power.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
20 days ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

They’d probably put a hellcat in one for you if you gave them enough money.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
20 days ago

Missed opportunity to give it the Marzal’s gull-wing doors. I know you were staying true to the Espada, but in the U-tubby/Instantgranny/TicTac age, gull-wings would increase sales.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
20 days ago

I always figured Lamborghini and Porsche (new 928) don’t get a modern proper front-engine GT because Bentley fills that space. The Estoque essentially died because of the Panamera filling that niche in the VW family.

A new Espada would be amazing but I don’t VW would ever let them build it

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
20 days ago

I don’t want an SUV or children. Hell, that’s why I’ve only owned two seaters and regular pickups or yanked the back seats out my other cars. You’re just asking for the little beggars to show up if you have empty seats available.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
20 days ago
Reply to  The Bishop

Mom always told us nothing good ever happens in the backseats of cars.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
20 days ago

A piece about the design DNA of the Lamborghini Espada without mentioning the Jaguar Pirana?

SAABstory
SAABstory
20 days ago

I’ll take a deep blue one with tan interior, please.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
20 days ago

The Espada is my favorite Lamborghini.
I’d settle for an Islero.
Those wheel arches make this design remind me of the Cybertruck. Not a good thing.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
20 days ago
Reply to  The Bishop

That would be good. The thing I love about the Espada is that it has a very conservative look considering that the idea is sort of bonkers, but the detail is exquisite. The other thing is that the Espada doesn’t photograph well. It looks like a smallish sports car in photos but it’s actually kind of large.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
20 days ago

I like it, but I hope the side view is better than the front 3/4 view. Maybe it’s just me, but the nose looks waaaaaay too long in that view, but it may be an optical illusion.. A little too much of the original DNA for my taste.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
20 days ago

The Espada is the coolest Lambo ever 😀

41
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x