The Lamborghini Jalpa strikes myself as a car that has been somewhat neglected amongst the poster automobiles that contain delighted car lovers around the world. Maybe it has been hidden in the shadow of its legendary big sibling, the Countach. Maybe it was your fact that it was hardly a new car, being based off the Lamborghini Silhouette which was largely simply a restyled and upgraded Urraco P300. Conceivably, the idea that it was your "budget Lamborghini" (coming in as a far less expensive option to the Countach, with a V8 great for just 255hp, compared to the heralded V12 of the Countach) might have meant it was a little bit more forgettable. Whatever the reason, they have drifted away of memory for many auto aficionados, and it deserves a little moment of reflection.


The ergonomics were pretty average, power was adequate but hardly exciting, so what's the big deal? Somehow the design overshadowed its weaknesses, walking a fine line that Lamborghini often crossed, between a striking body and a radically haphazard selection of sharp angles and vents. The Jalpa got the drama, and the sharp lines (a revolutionary departure from previous cartel cars like the Muira with its swooping lines) but Bertone showed enough restraint to give it a hint of timelessness that has seen the Jalpa age remarkably well. Indeed, reaching this balance was not something you will associate with Lamborghini, who often sacrificed many aspects of the driving experience in order to achieve a shockingly desirable design. Typically the Jalpa changed that; the dash and center system were much improved over its predecessors, the new 3. 5-liter V8 provided a lovely exhaust note, and the build quality was as good as any car Lamborghini had made up till that point. Therefore it didn't feel like the entry-level model, and it was totally driveable - here's the feedback of Bob Haroutunian, a former Jalpa owner.
Best PhotoGraphy 1985 Lamborghini Jalpa
Best PhotoGraphy 1985 Lamborghini Jalpa

"I bought my '86 Jalpa utilized in 1986 with 1, 1000 km on the time clock and drove it as my daily driver for twelve years, adding 65, 000 km. Over this time it was obviously a very predictable, very drivable car. I treated it as you would a regular car, and despite the horror stories you occasionally notice, none of them applied to my experience. "
So they nailed the design with the variety of madness and classiness, and built a car that could easily be driven and enjoyed by its owners, but possibly the thing we can be grateful for the most as car fans was how it turned Lamborghini's finances around. You see, the maker was on the edge of extinction in 80. A dated product collection - aside from the Countach - had seen sales slow to a halt, and funds were not designed for the R&D involved to have an all-new car to be launched. As an alternative, they chose to update the styling and dynamics of their existing model to create the Jalpa, and the 400 odd devices they sold at $58, 000 a piece provided them the bump in sales they needed to bolster their books out of potential bankruptcy to allow them to continue to grow into the organization we know today. Despite the fact that the number seems low, it was the brand's most successful V8 offering, and it came just at the right time to secure the storied Italian marque's future.

Now for something just a little blasphemous (turn away now Lamborghini purists) here's a little video of a bloke from my homeland who cherished the styling but was left wanting more strength to use down at his local drag remove, so he modified a few things.


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