Lamborghini Espada S1 – 1968

Long, wide and low are three words that spring to mind when describing the Lambo Espada S1 sports coupe that lit up the latter part of the 1960s, before the S2 and S3 versions carried the Espada through most of the 1970s. This typically Latin Grand Tourer was based on Lamborghini’s Marzal concept car, designed by Bertone and shown at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show.

With some additional styling notes borrowed from Bertone’s sensationally reworked Jaguar E-Type Piranha, the Espada filled a gap in the Lamborghini range. It was a true two-door 2+2 four-seater and there was obviously demand for such a car, for the Espada became Lamborghini’s best seller of the period.

The Espada had fully independent suspension and disc brakes all round. Five-speed manual transmission was standard but an unusual automatic option was available – the three ratios were drive, first and reverse. The car was front-engined and – despite its flamboyant styling – did not have the pop-up headlamps beloved by designers of GT cars at the time. The interior trim was first-class and the only complaint was that rear-seat passengers were somewhat cramped. The Santa’Agata factory was a hive of activity as Ferruccio Lamborghini challenged Ferrari on all fronts, and the head-turning Espada was definitely a major gauntlet.

The Espada S2 appeared in 1970, and was in turn succeeded in 1972 by the S3 that lasted until 1978. Power output from the V12 was increased from series to series and the interiors saw major revamping, but there was little external change of appearance – though the S3 did acquire the ugly rubber bumpers required by new US regulations. Over 1,200 Espadas were built over the model’s 10-year life – a sales record.




1968 (until 1970)


3,929 cc 2 x DOHC V12


Top speed of 150 mph (241 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.9 secs


Granted the length and slim profile of the Espada, the name seems entirely appropriate – in Spanish espada is the sword used by a matador to dispatch the bull at the climax of a corrida de toros, ideally with graceful efficiency and dashing style. Presumably Lambo’s Rampant Bull was the one that got away.


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