Positioning a V8 against the 6-cylinders of Ferrari, Porsche, and Maserati must have seemed like a good idea at the time


The note from the previous owner that accompanied this 1977 Lamborghini Urraco to auction was brief and to the point.
"There were only 520 P250s built. This is a one-owner Lamborghini bought by a lady in Pittsburgh. After several years of negotiations I purchased the vehicle. We did a major engine-out service including clutch, head gaskets and water pump. All records, manuals and jack. All original except for some minor touch-up over the years. Very collectible with only 9,000 miles."

SCM Analysis


Number Produced:21 (P111)
Original List Price:$22,500 (in 1975)
Tune Up Cost:$960
Distributor Caps:$120
Chassis Number Location:Visible through windshield
Engine Number Location:Top front of block, between cylinder banks
Club Info:Lamborghini Club of America, Jim Kaminski, P.O. Box 7214, St. Petersburg, FL 33734
Investment Grade:D

This 1977 Lamborghini Urraco sold for $24,840 at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach auction, April 1, 2006. From the beginning of their production of V12 supercars, Lamborghini planned for a “junior” model to provide volume sales for the manufacturer. Initially it was thought that a 2-liter inline six made from half of the Miura’s 4-liter V12 would be used in such a car. It was created and appeared in the mid-engined Marzal show car in 1966, whose design anticipated the Espada.
However, it was quickly determined that this engine wouldn’t give the power, flexibility, or market cred the marque needed, and a more traditional V8 was developed. Displacing 2,462 cc, it was an all-aluminum 90° design with four two-throat Weber carbs, the first belt-driven camshafts Lamborghini had offered, and an output of 220 hp. This became the heart of the new car, the Urraco.
For the coachwork of the new baby Lambo, the factory turned to Bertone and stylist Marcello Gandini. Bertone had become the house of choice, with the Miura, Espada, and Jarama already under its belt. The design was clean and modern, with good proportions for a mid-engined 2+2, which is a difficult package to balance. The only slightly jarring note is the heaviness of the slats, which run across the roof and sides of the car.
The Urraco’s announcement in 1970 pre-dated that of the Ferrari 308 GT4, making the Urraco the world’s first mid-engined 2+2. The main competitors for the Urraco were seen as the Dino 206 and 246 GT, the Porsche 911, and the Maserati Merak. Positioning a V8 against these 6-cylinder cars to achieve sales rivaling Porsche must have seemed a good idea at the time.
The reality turned out to be rather different. The company’s weakening financial condition and delays in final development were responsible for a two-year gap between press conference and dealer deliveries, which didn’t begin until 1972. That delay, combined with the fuel crisis, which hit shortly thereafter, produced disappointing sales. Only 791 Urracos were built by the time production sputtered to a halt in 1979.
There were four series of cars, the P250 (1972-76), P200 (1975-77), P300 (1975-79) and P111 (1974-76). The majority of the cars made were the P250, with 220 hp on tap from its 2,462-cc engine. The P200 was an Italian “tax special” designed to avoid the crippling registration taxes on cars over two liters. The 200’s 1,994 cc delivered 182 hp. The P300 was the final version of the car, vastly improved over the P250 with revised transmission, suspension, cleaned-up detailing on the body, more power (265 hp) and-most important-chain drive, rather than belt drive, for the camshafts.
The final variant is the one of interest to us here. The P111 was the designation for the U.S. market version of the P250. These cars differed from the European model in having the larger “impact” bumpers, side marker lights, and Solex carbs in place of the Webers. It also was detuned to produce even less power than the Euro 2-liter model at 180 hp.
In keeping with the reality that U.S. sales were somewhat less than hoped forv b, the P111 is the rarest of Urracos, with only 21 built. Of course, as Editor Martin is fond of reminding us, “rare is not always valuable.” In this case, however, the ultimate performance difference between the models is probably less important today than it certainly was in the 1970s. This example, stated to be a super low mileage “one-owner” car in the nicely period Champagne with beige leather, is one of the last built in 1976.
Urracos are well balanced, fun cars to drive. Provided you don’t compare their grunt to the V12 Lamborghinis, you will be satisfied with the overall level of performance. The styling is very post-’60s angular, in the mode of the times and the interior is, well, original. The main instruments are in a wide binnacle angled at either end. The tach is on the far left, the speedo on the far right. It’s a great layout for exercising your peripheral vision, or for a hockey goalie. The switchgear has a rather down-market feel about it, but there is plenty of leather to help you forget it. They also have an incredibly neat four-spoke deep-dished steering wheel straight out of a “boy’s own racer” sketchbook.
Besides watching out for the usual rust issues, carefully monitor the rubber cam belts of the non-3-liter cars, much as you would on a contemporary Ferrari. On this car, the seller listed a good deal of work done on the engine and did not mention the belts. Bringing a 29-year-old car with only 9,000 miles back onto the road is not the work of a moment. Mechanical parts are not generally a problem, as many of the greasy bits were continued along in the Urraco’s successors: the even rarer Silhouette and, finally, the fully sorted Jalpa.
Trim is a bit tougher but can be managed with effort, especially through the help of Internet groups such as the Vintage Lamborghini Garage on Yahoo! Groups. The Urraco is a great value and offers, as do all early Lambos, something a bit different from the usual. Prices of the early V12s have risen smartly in the last five years. I would, though, expect that the V8 little sister, like its contemporary competition from Ferrari and Maserati, will continue to be a bargain for a while more. The seller and buyer did well here.

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