• The True Story Behind Lamborghini Jarama - One of the Rarest and Ugliest Cars Ever Built

The Lamborghini Jarama is the ugly duckling in the brand’s V-12 lineup and here’s what you need to know about it

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Rivalry motivates progress, which couldn’t be more evident in the automotive industry. Lamborghini’s desire to show Ferrari where to shove it has produced some incredible models from both brands. With that said, there comes a point where manufacturers start experimenting, which can result in some controversial models. The 1970 Lamborghini Jarama was the fifth sports car of the Sant’ Agata-based company and is certainly an example that experimenting doesn’t always bare successful results. While all Lamborghini models are memorable, the Jarama is memorable for the wrong reasons. It isn’t exactly a pretty car, but what was the philosophy behind it?

Lamborghini wanted to make fast GT cars instead of race cars for the road

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Unlike Ferrari who wanted to make race cars for the road, Lamborghini took a different approach. Ferrucio wanted to show Enzo that Italian sports cars don’t necessarily need to have a jarring ride or make you feel like you are in a racing car. He wanted to make a fast grand tourer and the first among them was the 1964 Lamborghini 350 GT. Just two years later, in 1966, it evolved into the more powerful 400 GT, and at the same time, the legendary Lamborghini Miura – one of the most iconic supercars of all time – was also introduced.

Back to a more conventional design...sort of

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After the 1968 Lamborghini Islero and 1968 Lamborghini Espada, the latter of which scored an unusual, almost shooting brake-like coupe body style, the company decided to come up with a slightly more conventional 2+2 grand tourer. In 1970, came the Lamborghini Jarama. It featured a 2+2 layout and an angular design, courtesy of Marcello Gandini at Bertone, who also designed the Espada. The Jarama’s sloping rear end suggested it was a hatchback but it actually had a trunk.

For a sports car, the Jarama featured an unusual amount of front and rear overhang, which made the overall aesthetics even weirder. One signature element was the pop-up headlights, which in a recessed position, were "peaking" from under the lids. A similar design was seen on the Alfa Romeo Montreal, which debuted the same year as the Jarama, and was also designed by Marcello Gandini at the Bertone design studio.

The Jarama name

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Lamborghini has a history of naming most of its cars after fighting bulls. The Jarama is no exception, at least, not entirely. While there is a Spanish racing circuit in Madrid, called the Jarama, Ferrucio named the 2+2 grand tourer after the Jarama river area in Spain, where fighting bulls were bred. Regardless, the connection to bulls, in true Lamborghini tradition, is present.

The Bizzarini-designed V-12

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Lamborghini’s first few models, all had the same V-12 engine designed by former Ferrari and Iso engineer, Giotto Bizzarrini. The engine had different states of tune, depending on the model. In its first version, which powered the Lamborghini 350 GT, the V-12 engine displaced 3.5 liters and produced 280 horsepower (209 kilowatts) and 240 pound-feet (325 Nm). Later versions, including the one in the Jarama, featured 3.9 liters of displacement.

In the Jarama, the Italian V-12 produced 350 to 365 horsepower (261 to 272 kilowatts) and 289 to 302 pound-feet (392 to 410 Nm), depending on whether it’s the standard Jarama (Jarama GT) or the Jarama S, also known as the GTS. Power was sent to the rear wheels through either a five-speed manual or a three-speed TorqueFlite 727 automatic. Depending on the version, 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) was possible in around 6.4 to 6.8 seconds on to a top speed of 162 mph (260 km/h) to 165 mph (266 km/h).

Relatively mass-produced by Lamborghini standards

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Nowadays, Lamborghini is able to churn out cars in the thousands, especially when it comes to the Huracan and Urus models. That wasn’t the case back in the 1970s, and with 328 units produced between 1970 and 1976, the Lamborghini Jarama is one of the more mass-produced V-12-powered models of its time. Of those, 176 were the standard Jarama model and 152 were the Jarama S/GTS.

To put things in perspective, both the Lamborghini 350 GT and 400 GT combined, account for 367 units, with 120 being the earlier, 350 GT variant. The Islero, another 2+2 grand tourer, was produced in 225 units although it was only produced for two model years – 1968 and 1969. The Miura and Espada were the only V-12-powered models of that era to be more mass-produced than the Jarama, with 764 and 1,217 units respectively.

A special “Rally” version exists

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At one point, Lamborghini test driver, Bob Wallace, who was also involved in the Miura development, took a Lamborghini Jarama S and modified it. The 3.9-liter V-12 was moved further back, which resulted in a 53/47 weight distribution. The massaged unit now produced 380 horsepower (280 kilowatts) at 8,000 RPM and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm) at 5,750 RPM, which was identical to the Lamborghini Miura 400SV’s output. This translated into a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time of under 5.0 seconds and the ability to consistently reach speeds of up to 168 mph (270 km/h).

The car is also known as the Lamborghini “Bob”, named after Lamborghini’s, back then, test driver who modified it. The Jarama Rally also featured a heavily-modified aluminum body, which deleted the car’s “eyelids”. This resulted in the modified version weighing just 2,580 pounds (1,170 kg), which is around 660 pounds (300 kg) less than the stock car’s 3,197 pounds (1,450 kg). Among other features were center-lock wheels and Koni shocks. The car was intended to go racing but never did. In 1990, the one-off was, reportedly, restored in the UK.

The last (relatively) attainable Lamborghini worth buying

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While classic Lamborghini models have a certain allure to them, it’s the classic, V-12 models that are the most desirable and collectible.We recently talked about a late example of the Jarama, listed for sale on Bring a Trailer, and were surprised to see to see the asking price of under $50,000. When you take into account the values of the Lamborghini 350 GT and Miura, which are over $580,000 and $1.2 million respectively. All of a sudden, the strange-looking Jarama seems like the bargain of the century, at least, as far as classic Italian sports cars go.

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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