The Bertone-styled Urraco of 1973 was Lamborghini’s first venture into the junior supercar segment. Lamborghinis were previously big, powerful V12s with aggressive performance and seating limited to relatively compact adults. The Urraco’s 2+2 configuration and smaller V8 engine was therefore a big departure from the norm, and an important step for the raging bull.
It added an extra level of practicality and usability that other Lamborghinis in the range could only dream of. To compete with the Dino 246
and Porsche 911
, both powered by six-cylinder engines, the Urraco came armed with a 2.5-litre V8 – producing a healthy 220bhp While not particularly fast in its initial incarnation the 3-litre version introduced a year later turned it into a true baby supercar.
Despite its futuristic wedge-shaped styling, and later on more powerful engines to address its relative lack of pace, the Urraco never sold in large numbers. While not a particularly successful financial venture for the ever-troubled Lamborghini, the remaining few are surprisingly good value when compared to those Dino and 911 models today.
Which one to buy?
There were three main variants of the Urraco, the P200, P250 and P300. The numbers referred to engine size, with the smaller P200 2.0-litre V8 built for the Italian market to avoid exorbitant tax rates. With only 66 built, not many survive and finding one in the UK is unlikely. The P250 improves matters considerably, with more power and torque from its 2.5-litre engine, this was the most common variant, with 520 built.
A more luxurious P250S model came with leather upholstery and electric windows as standard. The driving position is of the short leg, long arm style, meaning taller drivers may find the cockpit a bit snug. A number of P250s were also modified to meet US regulations, and as such received their own model designation, the P111. These cars made 180bhp rather than the European-spec 220bhp and can be distinguished by the different bumpers and taillights.
The P300 is the one to look for though, with its 3.0-litre V8. It still feels quick today, and running costs are no more than one the smaller engined variants. In fact with a change to cam chains and upgrades to both transmission and suspension, they are also the most reliable. Only 190 ever saw light of day though, so finding one may pose a challenge. There were also 55 open topped targa versions of the P300, dubbed the silhouette. These cars did without the rear seats, with this space being used instead to store the roof segment. P300s and Silhouette models featured much improved interiors, being made in-house unlike the P250’s which was put together by Bertone.
There was a one off special edition Urraco called the Rallye or more informally the ‘Bob’ in reference to Bob Wallace who converted this particular Urraco into a stripped out track racer. Other modifications included a six speed gearbox and strengthening of the chassis to cope with the uprated power unit’s 300+ bhp.
Whichever model you choose, a solid service history is essential. While the Urraco may be on the affordable side for a Lamborghini, the maintenance costs are not, so factor this in to your purchasing budget.
Performance and specs
Lamborghini Urraco P300
Engine 2996cc, 24-valve DOHC V8
Power 247bhp @ 7500rpm
Torque 202lb ft @ 3750rpm
Top speed 162mph
0-62mph 5.6 seconds
Fuel consumption 20mpg
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
• Parts and spares are not always easy to come by and can be very pricey. It’s almost always more cost effective to buy a restored or refurbished car rather than attempting to do it yourself. Join your local Lamborghini owners club to get access to information and suppliers, so that sourcing parts and resolving issues are less daunting.
• Original sodium-filled valves are troublesome, so check that your car has had solid ones fitted.
• Belt drive on P250 models can cause problems, although the P300’s chain driven camshafts are much more reliable.
• There are a number of modifications aimed at making these cars more reliable. Polyurethane suspension bushes and metal braided brake lines are two of the big ones, which can help avoid roadside trouble.
• Cooling systems have a number of weak spots, the main one being the aluminium water tubes, which can corrode over time. Replacement parts can be sourced with a bit of effort, or updated with more durable alternatives.
• Engine mount brackets are weak and can break, but upgraded replacements can be sourced.
• Being an old Italian car the electrics can be a constant source of frustration and amusement. Get a specialist to check the wiring and contacts over thoroughly as repairs are expensive.
• Rust is a common problem and areas to check include the wheelarches, where stone chips can wear away the protective coating, as well as in the footwells. A leaking battery left unchecked can also cause havoc, as the acid can strip away the paint and expose the body panels below to the elements.
1973: P250 and more luxurious P250S launched
1974: 247bhp 3-litre V8 P300 introduced, now featuring chain driven cams. Interior, including seats and dashboard much improved. 2.0-litre P200 version introduced for Italian market
1976: P300 gets power upgrade to 257bhp. Urraco Silhouette released as a two-door targa, with rear seats removed to house roof section
1979: Last Urraco rolls off the production line
P200: 66 – Italian market only
P111: 21 – US market only
Silhouette P300: 55
Clubs and websites
• www.urraco.info - Enthusiast website, full of useful information on the Urraco
• www.lamborghiniclub.co.uk - UK-based Lamborghini Owners Club and forum
Summary and prices
While you can probably find a rusty project car for around the £30,000 mark, but buying one of these may signal the start of a very expensive restoration. Look for a decent P300 or P250S with a solid service history, with most of the good ones offered between £65,000-£90,000.
Rear seating is best suited for short trips with the kids, although the space also makes for a useful extra luggage compartment. The driving experience is sharp, and it is still great for a Sunday blast. Making a great V8 alternative to the more common ‘70s baby supercars, this Lamborghini will undoubtedly continue to appreciate with time.
Words: John Tallodi