In the early 1970s, Bertone's brilliant chief designer Marcello Gandini was developing a new show car for one of Italy's wealthiest men-and its newest automaker-Ferrucio Lamborghini. Lamborghini's intent was to create superlative grand touring cars for the world's richest and most powerful men. Having started with the graceful 350 GT and 400 GT 2+2, he then began to focus on a successor-still powerful and agile, but more comfortable for long-distance travel.

The result was the Marzal, which debuted to critical acclaim at the Geneva auto show in March 1967. Low and sleek, and powered by a rear-mounted six, it was as revolutionary at the time as the Countach would be later. The production version-the Espada-was introduced the next year, powered by Lamborghini's front-mounted 350-bhp dual overhead camshaft V12.

With true four-place seating in a 46.5-inch tall form, the Espada was unlike any previous GT. As Road & Track said in its July 1969 road test, ". the most satisfactory combination of four-passenger seating and practicality with thoroughbred GT performance and appearance we've yet encountered."

The first Espadas had heavy steering, but power steering became optional in the Series II cars and standard with the third version. To get more room inside, the chassis was longer and widened. The second series Espada was given a more powerful engine, as well as bigger bumpers on American versions to meet US safety regulations.

Finished in a hunter green with factory-original light and dark brown leather interior, this Espada is complete with a host of options and amenities, including the Blaupunkt push-button AM/FM radio, factory air conditioning, fog lights and correct Michelin tires. It is understood to have been garage-kept for its existence and is in very tidy overall condition. The Lamborghini Espada is a highly civilized and practical sports car, whether on the congested streets of Los Angeles, New York City or on the open road. With air conditioning, power steering and power brakes, its drivability is superb, while the Espada's small vertical window behind the luggage shelf provides excellent visibility in parking and traffic-a benefit no doubt anticipated by Bertone.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1973 Lamborghini Espada Series III
Years Produced:1968-78
Number Produced:1,217
Original List Price:$21,000
SCM Valuation:$22,500-$35,000
Tune Up Cost:$2,500
Distributor Caps:$429.50
Chassis Number Location:Left inner fender panel, door jamb (US Spec cars); visible through windshield (later cars)
Engine Number Location:Top front of block between the banks
Club Info:Lamborghini Owners Club of America, P.O. Box 7214, Saint Petersburg, FL, 33734; Lamborghini Club (America), P.O. Box 649, Orinda, CA
Alternatives:Ferrari 365 GT 2+2, Maserati Indy, Monteverdi 375L
Investment Grade:C

This car sold for $20,900, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Monterey auction August 16-17, 2002.

The Espada was in production for ten years, from 1968 to 1978. A total of 1,217 were built: 186 Series I, 575 Series II and 456 Series III. As with many small-production cars, a series of running changes is evident in Espadas, and it would not be unusual to see differences from car to car.

While this was reported by the auction company to be a Series II car, in fact it is a Series III. Series I cars’ serial numbers start with a 7, Series II with an 8 (most of the time) and Series III with a 9. Visual cues indicating that this is a Series III include a different rear bumper and taillights than the Series II, and a unique dashboard that wraps around the driver’s cockpit.

At the time of Espada’s production, it was the most successful Lamborghini built in terms of absolute sales volume. The Espada had an exterior design as unique as the Miura, being low, flat-topped and wide, like a stealth bomber with its rear stabilizers removed. At a cost new of $21,000 in 1968, the Espada was $1,750 more than the Miura. Even more surprising, the steel-bodied Espada tipped the scales at 3,307 lbs, just 457 pounds more than the two-seat supercar.

According to exotic car dealer Ed Waterman, owner of Motorcar Gallery in Fort Lauderdale, FL, the Espada is “one of the few real four-passenger exotics, with room for four full-sized adults. They are true Grand Touring cars, and a well turned-out example can be a pleasure to drive at highway speeds or on city roads.” Waterman advises avoiding Espadas with automatic transmission, as their performance suffers significantly. Further, he notes that “they are not the most liquid of exotics-they are both hard to find in good condition and can take time to sell.”

The Espada has a high attrition rate as, similar to many 2+2 Ferraris, the market value simply doesn’t support a $25,000 engine rebuild. Further, these can be fussy cars, with many little bits that seem to expensively break. PR maven Joe Molina bought one several months ago and reports that it has spent more time being repaired than on the road. “But the drive to the shop was fun, until the car broke down,” he said.

The cost of entry on the Espada remains low, but as with all cars of its ilk, the purchase price is just the starting point. Let’s hope that this particular car came with a boatload of receipts for recent services by a Lamborghini-fluent mechanic, and is ready to give its owner a few thousand miles of pleasure before it has a mechanical or electrical temper tantrum (if someone were to offer anger-management classes for Lamborghini drivetrains, they would surely be well-attended).

The Espada stands alone as a 30-year-old V12 exotic that can transport four adults in comfort. As they tend to trade hands in the $25,000-$35,000 range, let’s just call this one very fairly priced and hope for the best.-Dave Kinney

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