One of the least-known Lamborghini models, the Islero GT is generally agreed to be the company’s hidden gem. Only 226 were built—including 100 of the powerful “S” editions—and the model was named after the legendary bull that killed Manolete, the best matador in the world. Ferruccio Lamborghini himself even drove an Islero. The Islero was a revision of the quirky 400 GT by ex-Touring designer Mario Marazzi.  This conservative notchback coupe with hidden headlights was overshadowed by the glamorous Espada at the 1968 Geneva Auto Show launch of both models.

In today’s market, however, the Islero is widely considered to be more desirable. Once again carrying its original registration YLR11G, this car was driven by Sir Roger Moore in the 1970 cult thriller, “The Man Who Haunted Himself.” It was Moore’s last movie before taking over from Sean Connery for seven James Bond movies, and he considers it his best work. He played the dual role of a conservative city businessman and his doppelganger, a suave Bond-like figure, who drove this car. It was positioned as a powerful representation of the hero’s alter ego throughout the movie, including the climactic chase.

Moore was recently reunited with this Islero in Knightsbridge and autographed the sun visor, the original driver’s handbook and a special plaque. These come with the car, along with an impressive collection of documents, including the original factory invoice, a photographic record of the restoration and a letter from Valentino Balboni, the legendary Lamborghini test driver, confirming this is the actual movie car.

The factory invoice is dated March 31, 1969, and the car is shown as being RHD, metallic Azzurro blue with gray Connolly leather interior. The U.K. invoice of April 18, 1969, showed a sales price of £8,440, or $20,256, including $480 for the sprint engine and $600 for air conditioning.

The first owner was Clifford Johnson, who sold it to racing driver Paul Weldon shortly after the movie was made. Next it went to war hero Phillip Richards, who owned the car for 13 years. In 1986, Brian Power bought 6432 and had it restored by Gantspeed, regardless of cost. Power decided to mirror Lamborghini’s own personal Islero, and 6432 was repainted in silver and trimmed with burgundy leather. The next owner was a wealthy collector who stored it in a climate-controlled building for 20 years before selling it in 2007, when it was re-commissioned by Brian Classic. This is a beautifully restored, low-mileage, matching-numbers example with the additional uniqueness of being a car driven by James Bond himself, Sir Roger Moore. If life is all about the journey, why not travel in style?

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1969 Lamborghini Islero S
Years Produced:1969
Number Produced:100
Original List Price:$20,256
SCM Valuation:$100,000-$145,000
Tune Up Cost:$375
Chassis Number Location:Plate on firewall air intake, stamped on right front frame member
Engine Number Location:Inside vee on top of engine
Club Info:Lamborghini Club America, PO Box 649, Orinda, CA 94563; Lamborghini Owners Club, P.O. Box 7214, St. Petersburg, FL 33734

This car, Lot 194, sold for $169,602 (£106,400) including premium at the RM Auctions “Automobiles of London” U.K. sale on October 27, 2010.

Provenance, condition and historic desirability typically play key roles in determining value. This sale is an example of how those factors might, or might not, come together in a sale.

The undoubted star of the RM London sale was the Aston Martin DB5 that was featured in the movies “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball.” This Islero also was a film star, and I would argue that, while viewers were certainly entertained by the Aston in “Goldfinger,” its role and screen time in the overall movie were far outstripped by this Lamborghini in “The Man Who Haunted Himself.”

How do I know? Well, I happen to be not only one of the small group of people on the planet who have actually seen the film, I actually own it on DVD.

A car as co-star

The Islero is truly Moore’s co-star, even to the point of having an equally sized image in the film publicity. In moving Anthony Armstrong’s story, The Strange Case of Mr. Pelham, from paper to film, screenwriter and director Basil Dearden used the rakish, devil-may-care nature of the Islero to portray the wild, reckless side of staid company director Harold Pelham.

When Pelham is in control of his emotions and libido, he drives an upright Rover 3.5 sedan. When his alter ego takes over, it’s in the Islero. The wild look on Moore’s face when he climbs behind the wheel of the Lamborghini is not only priceless, it’s actually the way I felt every time I drove mine.

A personal record

The writer of the catalog description was clever enough to reference the sale of my Islero at Gooding & Company’s August 2008 Pebble Beach auction, which established an auction record for the model at $200,500, including premium. As you’ve already read, the record still stands, but thanks to the vagaries of currency exchange, the difference isn’t what it appears to be at first glance.

In August 2008 it took $1.869 to buy £1.00. That $200,500 for my car would have been £108,872. In October 2010, the dollar had risen to $1.594 to £1.00. So, the 15% spread in dollars equals a difference of just over 2% for a buyer in Pounds Sterling.

I’ve become a horrible bore reminding people that currency rates must be taken into account when looking at results—especially when it seems a value has suddenly jumped double digits.

Time for another look?

I think it is finally time for all, especially SCM, to reevaluate the Islero. It’s often difficult to reconcile market prices with the “SCM Investment Grade” letter rating. While both live and online auction results for these cars have not come near the two highest prices, documented private transactions in the last two years have been near this level. Even at the lower results, the Islero has appreciated considerably more than the Espada, which is rated by this magazine as a “C” against the Islero’s “D.”

The Espada has long been the aesthete’s choice of second-tier 1960s supercars, but that hasn’t translated into market value. On the other hand, a more sophisticated audience has realized that the Islero is in fact the 400 GT 2+2 wearing a new suit. I happen to believe it’s a more attractive, better-resolved design than the earlier cars, and more are adopting the view.

The difference in pricing between the best Isleros and “OK” cars has widened dramatically, but it is representative of the same phenomenon in the larger market overall. In any event, it has certainly proven to be of a better investment grade than its four-passenger sister.

This particular car was sold, as the saying goes,  “for the price of the restoration, with the car thrown in free.” There was no bump for its cinematic notoriety, perhaps because the film is obscure and the car’s colors were changed from the silver blue/gray in the movie to the current silver/burgundy.

It’s no fun showing stills from the film to your friends and having to convince them that the silver car in your driveway is really the blue car in the movie, Roger Moore’s sun visor autograph notwithstanding.

The rarity of the Islero, and particularly the S model, doesn’t really change its price. The total of all early Lamborghinis is relatively small, and Isleros are frankly rare because so few were sold when they were new—to the chagrin of the factory. There is relatively little difference in price between the Islero standard and Islero S models, even though the latter is credited with 25 additional horsepower.

The various styling changes are a matter of taste, with some preferring the cleaner early body and others the improved interior of the later car. Whichever one chooses, the Islero delivers a wonderful driving experience, smooth and powerful—in most ways superior to their Ferrari contemporaries. They remain a bargain for what they deliver. Although the new owner nearly paid a record price, it can be said the deal won’t come back to haunt him.

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