Lamborghini’s most tasteful deep cut

The Lamborghini Jarama made its way into production in 1970 as a replacement for the Islero and proved to be the Italian supercar manufacturer’s last front-engined V-12 grand tourer. While shorter than the Espada, the Jarama still offered seating for four and had the same engine.

By the late ’60s, Lamborghini was a bivalent company: it was both offering an out-and-out supercar, the tremendous Miura, and a couple laid-back grand tourers built with comfort, luxury, and practicality in mind. When it came time to replace the smaller of the two tourers, namely the Islero, Lamborghini decided to turn from Carrozzeria Marazzi, who’d been behind the Islero, to Bertone.

The car that resulted was a strange thing: it sat low and wide but was also quite short. It came with Miura-style magnesium wheels but it was way heavier than the mid-engined supercar due to its all-steel construction. The first batch of cars was dodgy at best, in typical Italian fashion, but the Jarama S turned out to be an enjoyable highway runner.

  • 1970 - 1976 Lamborghini Jarama
  • Year:
    1970- 1976
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V12
  • Transmission:
    five-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    350
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • Top Speed:
    160 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

  • Built to keep up with the American safety and emissions regulations
  • The last front-engined V-12 Lamborghini
  • Styled by Marcello Gandini of Bertone and assembled by Carrozzerio Marazzi
  • The low and mean stance is due to the fact that Lamborghini used a modified Espada chassis for the Jarama
  • The name refers to a breed of Spanish bulls, not the racing track of the same name that’s also located in Spain
  • The car was shorter than both the Espada and the Islero but was still spacious enough thanks to a hatchback-style rear

Although Ferruccio Lamborghini never got along with Enzo Ferrari, which is the root of the creation of Automobili Lamborghini to begin with, the two men did share the same kind of appreciation for relaxed, comfortable, grand tourers. While ’Il Commendatore’ very much was enamored with racing, he would always pick a laid back 2+2 grand tourer for his daily commutes. He was no fan of driving the 250 GTO or the 250 GT SWB. Instead, he drove around in the 250 GTE 2+2 and, later, in the 330 GT.

The same goes for Ferruccio who actually kicked-off building cars with a number of rather serene tourers, the 350 GT and the 400 GT. Only then came the audacious Miura. But the lineage of grand tourers continued at Lamborghini. The 400 GT was replaced by the Islero and then a bigger tourer was unveiled, the Espada.

While this latter model became sort of a fixture in Lamborghini’s lineup, staying in production for a full decade, the Islero, that was originally conceived to appease to American buyers, was only around for two years. Then, when a new, more stringent, raft of rules on safety and pollution loomed over imports, Lamborghini decided to come up with a new car. It wasn’t to be a restyled Islero, but a brand-new car based on a shortened version of the Espada chassis.

The name of the new car was Jarama, a region in Spain where they breed fighting bulls. It was unveiled at the 1970 edition of the Geneva Auto Show and sported aggressive cues signed by the same man behind the Miura - Marcello Gandini of Bertone. The steel body panels were made at Bertone then sent to Carrozzeria Marazzi for preliminary assembly before reaching the final assembly stage at Sant’Agata Bolognese. There were two Jaramas. The GT 400 and the GTS 400, also known as the Jarama S, that was presented at the 1972 Geneva Auto Show.

The two cars could only be set apart by the keenest of onlookers as the most visible difference between the two is a thin, wide, hood scoop. There were also some cooling ducts that opened on the side, aft of the front wheels, but those weren’t specific to the GTS 400.

The front end of the Jarama has a sleepy look to it when the headlights are concealed behind their flaps. These flaps would tilt underneath the four headlights, two on either side of the rounded nose, when necessary. In between the lights, there is a recessed air inlet which sits just above the thin wraparound front bumper that incorporates the bulky indicators. Below the bumper, there’s an extra, narrow, grille with its outer edges curved upwards. This arrangement makes the Jarama look like a smiling animal that’s half asleep when the headlights are covered.

The hood of any Jarama includes two NACA ducts on either side, the wide scoop being an addition to the Jarama S only. The Jarama is quite slab-sided, which is why its flared arches are very noticeable, giving the car a muscular appearance. A character line runs from the tip of the nose, swoops by the two wheel wells then ends right at the back.

Initially, the Jarama was equipped with magnesium Campagnolo rims similar to those on the Espada S1 or the Miura. These wheels went away by the time the GTS 400 was introduced and in came the somewhat unappealing rims of the Espada S2. Due to its 94-inch wheelbase, the car some strange proportions. You feel like, maybe, a longer wheelbase would have worked better because the flares front and rear seem too close together.

The weird look is aided by the roofline which suddenly dives at the back as fi designed using a ruler, giving the car a hatchback-esque feel around the tail end. The rear itself is quite straightforward. The sloping rear finishes abruptly as it meets the straight rear fascia. Two rectangular taillights are positioned in the top corners, each with a chrome frame that divides the indicators from the brake lights. The trunk lid doesn’t actually include the rear window being positioned just below. The trunk it covers is still able to hold 8.8 cubic feet of cargo.

Just below the taillights, there’s the thin bumper which also wraps around the car’s corners. The backup lights are incorporated in the lower end of the rear bodywork. The quad exhaust tips stick out below the backup lights on either side.

The Jarama GTS 400 can also be set apart from the GT 400 by looking at the slightly different bumpers, the S attached to the rear panel and the taillights, which, some sources claimed, were identical to those on the De Tomaso Deauville.

Dimensions:

Wheelbase 94 inches
Length 177 inches
Width 72 inches
Height 47 inches

Interior

  • Some Jaramas come with the radio unit incorporated in the center console in between the seats as if it’s meant to be operated by the passengers in the back
  • The trunk lid opens to reveal 8.82 cubic feet of cargo space without the seats folded down
  • Of about 20 Jaramas built with a dual sunroof, 18 were sold in the United States originally
  • Poor build quality plagued many Jaramas, customers also complaining about the unintuitive arrangement of the switches and knobs on the dash
  • The center console extends all the way to the back, splitting the rear seat

The Jarama filled the gap left by the Islero. As such, it had to serve the same purpose. It was conceived as a more compact 2+2 grand tourer for the wealthy businessman that had to undertake long commutes in comfort. Italian leather wrapped the seats, door panels and much of the dash while a wood panel sat behind the steering wheel making for an elegant gauge cluster.

The middle part of the dashboard is surprisingly bare as most of the switches are placed on either side of the steering wheel on the flat surfaces of the dashboard. The lower part of the center console is where you’ll find the air vents and the controls for the ventilation, tucked behind the short shifter. The Jarama came in standard with tinted, electric windows and a heated rear window.

The radio can be found in a number of places, depending on whether it comes from the factory or it’s an aftermarket add-on. As such, some owners filled the empty area in the middle of the dash with the radio unit while others added it to the passenger side of the dash. There are also radio units placed on the tall center console towards the rear of the cabin. This would mean that even the back seat passengers can fiddle with the radio’s knobs, something you don’t get to say about many cars out there on the road today.

The steering wheel is typical of any Lamborghini at the time. It features three, drilled, metallic rims attached to a wooden centerpiece and a wooden rim. It’s not as nice as the steering wheels of ’60s Ferraris but it isn’t far behind either. The recessed gauge cluster behind the wheel includes the odometer to the left and the tachometer to the right. In between, there’s the fuel gauge, the water temperature gauge, the oil pressure gauge and the oil temperature one.

The Jarama S came with a revised interior that aimed to please those that criticized the original cabin as being cluttered and poorly put together. The seats had thinner seatbacks that increased legroom in the back where the two seats were separated. Also, the wood panel behind the steering wheel was replaced by a brushed aluminum one and, later in production, the wheel itself exchanged wood for leather.

Drivetrain

  • The same 3.9-liter V-12 seen under the hood of the Espada was delivered with the Jarama as well
  • The car had a 10.6 inches-shorter chassis than the Espada
    Power-assisted steering was introduced with the Jarama GTS model, as were the removable roof panels
  • A Chrysler-sourced TorqueFlit automatic transmission also became available later in the production cycle
  • The Jarama was almost 300 pounds heavier than the Islero, which translated into a top speed of only 155 mph compared to the Islero S which could reach 162 mph
  • The Jarama was slightly more powerful than the rivaling Ferrari 365 GTC/4 while being just as heavy. The GTS version of the Jarama was also equalling the Prancing Horse in terms of top speed at 162 mph

The Jarama was the first Lamborghini model developed under the watchful eye of Gian Paolo Dallara who replaced Paolo Stanzani as Chief Technical Officer. It had a wider track than the Islero and was shorter by 2.75 inches and the engine was placed lower down inside the sheet steel platform which reduced the center of gravity.

The engine in question was the 3.9-liter, 60-degree V-12. This DOHC, naturally-aspirated, chain-driven, 24-valve, unit had an aluminum block with pressed-in liners. It was an evolution of the V-12 under the hood of the Islero but with modified crankshafts, other distributors, a new radiator and water cooling system, and a more powerful alternator. In the 400 GT, it developed 352 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 290.6 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm. This was enough for a top speed of about 155 mph, although some sources say the 400 GT was, in fact, as fast as the more powerful 400 GTS. In any case, the 400 GT’s V-12 was fed by six twin-barrel Weber 40 DCOE 20-21 carburetors.

The GTS, which remained in production until 1976, came with a 366-horsepower version of the same V-12 engine. Maximum power was attained at 7,500 rpm while 298.7 pound-feet of torque was available at 5,500 rpm. The GTS has the same carburetor setup and the same compression ratio, 10.7:1, as the GT. It also came with the same five-speed all-synchromesh gearbox although a Chrysler TorqueFlit automatic transmission became available in 1974.

Suspension on all Jaramas was basically a copy of that on the Espada. They all had double transverse wishbones with coil springs, telescopic Koni dampers and anti-roll bars. Girling disc brakes remained a constant too while steering was by worm & roller.

Specifications:

Engine V-12, 60-degree, 24-valve, chain-driven, DOHC, with an aluminum block and 7 main bearings
Output 352 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 290.6 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm on the GT 400, and 366 horsepower at 7,500 rpm and 298.7 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm on the GTS 400
Compression ratio 10.7:1
Fuel feed Six twin-barrel Weber 40 DCOE 20-21 carburetors with an Electic Bendix fuel pump
Suspension All-independent, consisting of double transverse wishbones with coil springs, telescopic Koni dampers and anti-roll bars
Transmission Five-speed all-synchromesh on the 400 GT while a Chrysler Torqueflit automatic became available in 1974 for the 400 GTS
Steering ZM worm & roller
Brakes Girling ventilated disc brakes on all wheels operated by two vacuum servo units with independent circuits to front and rear
Performance Top speed: between 155 mph and 162 mph, 0-62 mph in 7 seconds
Weight 3,200 pounds

Prices

The Jarama 400 GT had a sticker price back in 1972 of $22,500 which is about $135,000 in today’s money. The GTS 400 was a little bit more expensive with an MSRP three years later of $29,900 - roughly $138,000 today. In total, 177 Jarama GT 400 models were built along with the 151 GT 400 S cars. This amounts to a total production of under 400 units, making the Jarama one of the rarest Lamborghini’s ever.

But the rarity isn’t mirrored by the prices we see in today’s market. Dodgy examples sell for anywhere between $85,000 and $115,000 while sorted ones go beyond the $140,000 mark. Jarama S models can be more expensive, but it’s still not the kind of appreciation we see classic Ferraris enjoy. Apparently, the Countach and the Miura are the collector’s babies and most other classic Lamborghinis have somewhat been disregarded despite their good looks, performance, and scarcity.

Competition

Ferrari 365 GTC/4

The 365 GTC/4 was the direct replacement of the 365GT 2+2. It was introduced in 1971 and only survived until 1972. Sitting on the same underpinnings as the 365 GTB/4 ’Daytona’, it had softer springs than its sibling that was the reigning fastest car in the world at the time. The 365 GTC/4 also benefitted from hydraulic steering. Other standard amenities included electric windows and air conditioning. The cabin was upholstered in mixed leather and tartan fabric but a leather-only interior was optional.

The car had a curvaceous body designed by Pininfarina with pop-up headlights and six taillights at the back. Under the elongated hood sat a detuned version of the Colombo-designed 4.4-liter V-12 engine fitted to the ’Daytona’. As such, the 365 GTC/4 only had 337 horsepower which reached the back wheels through a 5-speed gearbox bolted to the engine.

Models that saw the American shores came with 3-point seat belts, side indicators, and a number of engine modifications to comply with U.S. emission standards, including air injection. Power dropped to 320 horsepower as a result. Shock absorbers at the back were also added on U.S. models. The price for a 365 GTC/4 ranges from $200,000 all the way to $300,000.

Jaguar E-Type 2+2

The Jaguar E-Type S2 2+2 arrived in the Spring of 1966 as a way for Jaguar to satisfy those who asked for a bigger E-Type with a roomier cabin. According to ClassicCars4Sale, the bigger E-Type had a 9-inch longer wheelbase while the roof was 2 inches higher than on the original 2-seat coupe launched with much pomp in 1961.

That’s exactly why many fans regard it as ugly compared to the supple Malcolm Sawyer-penned original. The S2 also lacked the glass headlight covers of the original which didn’t help. It came with "the lustier if lazier 4.2-litre XK engine, a lighter, easier to use Jaguar clutch and gearbox, better seats, a reworked heating, and ventilation system plus the incorporation of more effective heat shields to stop heat soak into the cabin," according to the same source. Further safety requirements, especially across the Atlantic, meant the headlight shape changed altogether "while the sexy small open mouth grille was, together with raised height bumpers, now enlarged by almost 70% to improve the car’s marginal cooling".

All of the above translates into lower prices for one of these 2+2 models today. In fact, you can pick one up for anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000 depending on condition, model year and options - as well as origin.

Conclusion

The Lamborghini Jarama is the last front-engined car built by Lamborghini. Since then, the only vehicles built by Automobili Lamborghini with the engine in front of the cabin were the LM002 and, now, the Urus. In a way, the Jarama is a weird-looking goodbye to this segment but, at the same time, this model is better looking than the Ferrari 365 GTC/4 and the battered E-Type 2+2.

With production numbers so low, you’d expect Jarama prices to be lurking in the stratosphere but, actually, it’s quite affordable for an Italian sports car from the ’70s. Some consider it the more interesting option over the Espada just because fewer were made and you’d be hardpressed to see one roaming in the wild.

  • Leave it
    • Not quite the showstopper that Miura and Countach were
    • Last front-engined Lamborghini
    • Steel chassis and body make it quite heavy

Further reading:

Lamborghini Espada
Ferrari 365 GTC/4
Jaguar E-Type

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