Lamborghini is best known for building some of the wildest, most outrageously styled supercars in history; most of which were powered by fearsome, temperamental twelve-cylinder engines. Since the arrival of the show-stopping Miura, Lamborghini has continuously tried to outdo itself in terms of jaw-dropping style and shattering performance. While it was the V12 supercars that stole the headlines, Lamborghini has long offered buyers smaller, V8 powered models to supplement sales and compete with the likes of the Dino 246GT, Ferrari 308 and Porsche 911 Carrera. The first in the line of junior Lamborghinis was the Urraco (Piedmontese for “little bull”). The Urraco featured a 2.5 liter, and later a 3.0 liter V8 engine mounted transversely over the rear axle. The conservatively styled Urraco was the antithesis to the Miura and P400 Countach, and sales were moderate at best. But Lamborghini continued to evolve and develop the V8 series through the 1970s and into the 1980s. The 2+2 Urraco P300 was joined in 1976 by the two seat Silhouette, which shared the Urraco’s underpinnings and 3.0 liter V8 engine. With Lamborghini facing financial problems, just 55 Silhouettes were built over a three year period. In 1981, with the company getting back on track, a new “little bull” was shown at the Geneva auto show in hopes to boost sales across the board, and support further development of the Countach. Now called P350 Jalpa, it was a heavily developed version of the Silhouette, featuring revised styling, a wider more aggressive stance, and a modernized interior. The 90-degree, DOHC V8 engine was still transversely mid-mounted, but for the Jalpa it got a bump in displacement to 3.5 liters, now producing a rather useful 255 horsepower and 235 ft-lbs of torque.
The Jalpa debuted in the US in 1983 at a list price of $58,000 – which rose to $65,000 by the end of production in 1988. Despite the mechanical and luxury refinements as well as the 160 mph performance, a mere 420 Jalpas were sold between 1982 and 1988, just over half that of Urraco production. Many Jalpas suffered neglect at the hands of bargain hunters and inexperienced owners, meaning that sound, attractive cars are very difficult to find today.
Our featured 1988 Jalpa is a fine example from the final year of production for this junior Lamborghini supercar. Originally delivered via Motor Coach Lamborghini in Baltimore, Maryland, the first owner was a doctor who used it very lightly. She sold the car in the early 1990s with very low miles to an enthusiast from Michigan who enjoyed the car and had it serviced via Rallye Imports. In approximately 1999, it was sold to another enthusiast and collector who further enjoyed the car, keeping it regularly serviced at his own exotic car repair facility.
Today, the Jalpa presents in good condition, an attractive and usable example in a great color combination of black over tan leather. The Jalpa has a fantastic stance – low and wide with aggressive fender flares to accommodate wide O.Z. alloy wheels made specifically for Lamborghini, which are wrapped in fat high-performance rubber. The wheels are excellent, as are the lights, lenses and body fittings. The black paint is mostly original and in good condition all around, with even gaps on the panels and good quality presentation. All Jalpas featured a targa-style roof and this one remains in very good condition. The typically vulnerable chin spoiler is in good order as well, in keeping with a car that has been driven and enjoyed carefully, while being expertly maintained along the way.
The interior presents in excellent condition, with light tan leather highlighted by black piping, natural tan carpets and a black dash. The leather trim on the seats and door cards is very good and showing little in the way of wear. The dash top is similarly excellent, and the original instruments and switchgear all show in good order. The only modification is the addition of a Sony CD player for the days when you want some musical accompaniment for the sonorous 3.5 liter V8 over your right shoulder.
Showing just over 25,000 kilometers (less than 16k miles) from new, this Jalpa remains in very good order mechanically. The engine bay is original, cohesive and tidy, showing signs of regular care and maintenance while the undercarriage is likewise original and sound. While not a concours car, this example is tidy, highly attractive and thoroughly usable.
The Jalpa is far more exclusive than a comparable Ferrari 308 or 328 and offers a great alternative to either car; delivering similar performance and handling with that uniquely aggressive Carrozzeria Bertone styling and entertaining V8 engine. It offers the chance to get behind the wheel of a pure, unadulterated Lamborghini sports car from their last days as a proudly independent firm, at a cost of entry that is a fraction of its contemporary twelve-cylinder siblings. One of just 420 produced, this Jalpa is a fine example, ready for the next keeper to enjoy its distinctly Piedmontese character.
Dec 7, 2017