By Rob Sass
When it comes to car collecting, few can resist the allure of an Italian exotic. Lamborghini is the newest of the Italian exotic marques (dating back to 1963), and while the Miura has been a blue chip collectible for quite some time, collectors have recently taken a look at vintage Lamborghinis in general and they like what they see. Classic Lamborghini values have skyrocketed in the last several years, even for the lesser-known models:
- 1968-77 Lamborghini Espada: The Espada was Lamborghini’s first shot at a four-passenger GT, and it was one of the great Marcello Gandini’s many creations for Lamborghini, this time with Bertone. Long, low and wide, the Espada could seat four in relative comfort and cross entire continents effortlessly. More user-friendly than a Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 or a Maserati Indy, and with a larger cabin, better air conditioning and power steering, the Espada has almost tripled in value over the last five years. Bright period colors like orange and metallic lime green are extremely popular. Cars that might have sold for $35,000 or so five years ago can now bring close to $90,000.
- 1970-76 Lamborghini Jarama: The Jarama was a shorter, sportier version of the Espada, built on the same platform. While not as roomy, its +2 seating could accommodate a pair of kids or smallish adults in a pinch. Like the Espada, it was another Gandini effort that has aged well, with its angularity, short wheelbase and generous overhangs becoming more appreciated with the passage of time. Its valuation trajectory has been largely the same as the Espada’s.
- 1974-76 Lamborghini Countach LP400 “Perioscopica”: We’d be hard pressed to come up with a more dramatic motor show introduction than the Countach debut at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. Like the Jaguar E-Type’s unveiling just 10 years earlier at the same show, the Countach looked like it had arrived from another universe. Early cars with the unique periscope or “periscopica,” narrow tires and un-flared fenders are the cleanest design and fetch the most money. In 2012, a beautifully restored orange LP400 sold for the then-record price of $600,000. Just two years later, a similar car needing a total restoration fetched more than $1.5 million. This comes as no surprise to the millions of Gen-Xers whose bedrooms and dorm rooms were adorned with Countach posters. It was yet another Gandini masterpiece.
- 1971-72 Lamborghini Miura SV: The Miura is almost certainly the most beautiful mid-engine sports car of the 1960s and 1970s and possibly one of the prettiest cars of all time. The SV was the ultimate expression of the original concept with some styling details cleaned up and a split sump now with separate oil reservoirs for the transverse V-12 engine and gearbox. Five years ago, they were $750,000 cars. Now they fetch in the $1.5 million to $2 million range. Like every car on the list, it was the work of the god-like Marcello Gandini.
- 1973-79 Lamborghini Urraco: The Urraco was very much a product of a changed environment for exotic cars. Rather than a V-12 like all of the other cars on this list, the Urraco used a small but powerful V-8 ranging from the 2.0-liter Italian market tax-dodge model to 2.5 and eventually 3.0 liters. While Ferrari used a flat-plane crank for its 3.0-liter V-8 in the 308 Dino GT/4, Lamborghini used a conventional crank, thus the Urraco has more of a traditional throaty V-8 rumble than the Ferrari. It was also in a different stratosphere in the looks department. While both were designed by Bertone, once again, Marcello Gandini took the lead on the Lamborghini. Where the Dino was wedgy and angular, the Urraco was far more glamorous, particularly in the greenhouse. Urracos were formerly at the bottom of the classic Lamborghini ladder, but in recent years they’ve appreciated considerably. Now a great Urraco can bring more than a Diablo from the 1990s.