Diablo, Gallardo, Countach, Murcielago, and all the wickedly Italian/Spanish named cars that Lamborghini stands for were preceded by Grand Tourers with – shock, horror – four seats! How can that be? Lambos are big, low and evil, yet only have just enough space for a driver and his or her illicit lover.
After all, the middle of a car should be filled with a V12 engine, right? And as for the illicit lover, at this end of the market you rendezvous at a secret country estate, not the back seat! The Lambo just gets you there in style, and very, very quickly.
But Lambos started out with the V12 up front and luxurious leather back seats (admittedly for people with no legs). Legend has it that Ferruccio Lamborghini was so disappointed when he bought a Ferrari, and so peeved that Enzo Ferrari would not talk to him about it, that he decided to create a better supercar himself. And he did. Success is the best revenge!
Success meant money for new cars and two were born – the radical mid engined Miura that had an unfortunate habit of killing its wealthy drivers in spectacular crashes, and the more family-friendly Espada. The Espada was Ferruccio’s concept of “a sports car by Rolls Royce”. It had a V12 engine, four big comfy seats, was as long and wide as a Hummer, but was really, really low. And it looked like no other car on the road.
I first saw an Espada as a teenager and instantly fell in love. What better way to cruise off to the wine country with friends? The car dealer almost convinced me that I could afford repayments akin to the national debt for the aging supercar. What better way to go bankrupt? But a sense of self preservation prevailed – until a few years later when I was walking past an auction and noticed an immaculate red Espada..
In the raising of a hand, I owned a Lamborghini. I even joined the local Lamborghini Drivers Club (it got me a great discount on insurance). And it was practical 😉 I fitted a baby seat between the back seats for our one year old son. Lamborghini Espada – a big hot family hatch, sort of.
How can you environmentally justify owning a V12 Lambo? Know thy enemy perhaps? Convert it to electric? – better buy a (renewable) power station. How about carbon offsets? Plant your whole state with new forests?
Well I figured the Espada was a work of art, an occasionally mobile sculpture that even had some day-to-day uses. It was art, not transport, and you can justify most things in the name of art.. OK, that’s a cop-out. More practically, my day-to-day transport was an ultra fuel-efficient Suzuki Swift, with a much smaller environmental footprint than a Toyota Prius. But that is another story.
Lamborghini made about 1,200 Espadas over 10 years and it was the most successful model until the Countach, which they made for over 25 years. They only stopped making the Espada due to bankruptcy (in true Italian supercar style) but a number of updated prototypes were built, and below is a picture of my favorite. You know, I think I prefer it to the Estoque..
A four door Espada was also designed but no prototype was ever built – until now, and they have called it the Estoque!
BTW – “espada” and “estoque” are both types of swords..