There have been several periods during Lamborghini’s history when it was a one-model marque, but from the late ’60s on into the ’80s, the company really made an effort to have a bigger and more diverse lineup. This is part of why Lamborghini had an SUV long before any other sports/exotic/luxury car company ever dreamed of making one, and also why it had an entry-level V-8 model a full two years before Ferrari brought out the 308. That first entry-level car the Urraco, a reasonably successful but not particularly good car. But when Ferrari brought out a much better entry-level car in 1975, something else was needed.

The result was the Silhouette, and just from the name, you can probably tell it isn’t a usual Lamborghini. Not only does it sound like a brand of ’80s cologne, but it has nothing to do with bulls. And indeed the Silhouette wasn’t really a full-on model of its own. It was based in the Urraco, but had styling much more like the Jalpa, the entry level V-8 model that would succeed the Urraco. This is similar to the role the Reventon played more recently, except that the Silhouette was built right alongside the Urraco for its entire production cycle.

Continue reading to learn more about the Lamborghini Silhouette.

Exterior

1976 - 1979 Lamborghini Silhouette
- image 318227

The big important reason for the Silhouette to exist was that it was Lamborghini’s first model to come with a targa top. This was obviously going to necessitate some changes to the bodywork in order to accommodate the different roof and the roll bar, but Bertone reworked a lot more than just that.

The Silhouette had much wider wheels than the Urraco, so flared wheel arches were added, and then so was a front air dam. The hood was changed too, with the big vent being deleted. This last part was a good move, since nearly everything Ferrari was building at the time had these sorts of vents, and Lamborghini looked more distinct without it.

Interior

1976 - 1979 Lamborghini Silhouette
- image 318229

Lamborghini isn’t exactly known for cars with spacious interiors, but for a time it made some 2+2 cars that were surprisingly accommodating. That said, the Urraco wasn’t one of them. There was technically a back seat, but it was useless as anything but a parcel shelf. So it was done away with for the Silhouette, which is just as well, because the addition of a roll bar, and the bodywork needed to conceal it, had replaced the rear windows.

But the changes to the interior went beyond just deleting the back seat. The Urraco interior was fairly dull, considering the Espada had gotten an interior based on those found in Lamborghini’s wacky space-age-doorstop concepts of the time. So the Silhouette got a more creative dash layout, and a four-spoke deep-dish steering wheel.

Drivetrain

1976 - 1979 Lamborghini Silhouette
- image 318231

The Silhouette, as you’d probably expect, took its engine from the Urraco. There were three different engines offered for the Urraco, a 2.0-liter a 2.5-liter and a DOHC 3.0-liter, all of them V-8s. With the production being so limited on the Silhouette, only the 3.0-liter engine was offered. It produced 250 horsepower, which was just two fewer than the Ferrari 3.0-liter V-8 in the 308, which had debuted the year before.

The car was mid-engine and the engine itself was transverse mounted. The extra weight involved in giving it a targa top meant that it was a bit slower than the 3.0-powered Urraca, but you would still look cooler doing it in a Silhouette.

Prices

Only 54 units of the Silhouette were built, from 1976 to 1979. And while prices for rare Italian sports cars tend to reach up into the astronomical, this is not so with the Silhouette. Part of this is because it is a V-8 and not a V-12, and also just because the late ’70s is not the most desirable of periods for classic cars. One sold as recently as 2010 for a mere $60,000, but prices on all classics have rebounded since that low point of a few years ago. Today, prices average about $90,000, with really superb examples going up to about $130,000. In order to get one closer to that $60,000 mark, it would have to be in rough shape.

Competition

Ferrari 308

1977 - 1980 Ferrari 308 GTS
- image 321836

The 308 was Ferrari’s first really big hit, with production measured in thousands of units rather than hundreds. And this wasn’t just because it was cheaper than the bigger V-12 cars, it was also a supremely good sports car, so good that it evolved into the 328 and stayed in production up until 1989. A targa version, the GTS, debuted in 1977. And unlike the Silhouette, it isn’t hard to find one today, since 3,219 units were made just in its first generation.

Read our full review on the Ferrari 308 GTS here.

De Tomaso Pantera

While a lot of other Italian sports car companies viewed V-8 models as entry-level models made to boost sales volume, the Pantera was a V-8 Italian sports car with the power and good looks of the top-end V-12 models of the day. And thanks to its Ford engine and sales through Ford’s dealership network, the car was a big hit in the U.S., making them relatively easy to find today.

Read our full review on the De Tomaso Pantera here.

Conclusion

1976 - 1979 Lamborghini Silhouette
- image 318228

Put a Silhouette in between a Urraco and Jalpa and you’d swear the Silhouette was just a Jalpa with an optional targa roof. What’s odd about that is that the Urraco was built from 1973 to 1979, and the Silhouette from 1976 to 1979. So for most of the Urraco’s production life, the car that would serve as the prototype for its replacement was being built right alongside it. That doesn’t say much for Lamborghini’s faith in the Urraco, but it does say a lot for the Silhouette, and that’s a very good thing in this context.

  • Leave it
    • * Rare, but somehow still not a great investment
    • * No back seat… er, parcel shelf
    • * With such similar looks on the Jalpa, the Silhouette seems less special.
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: