Top 10 Lamborghini Concept Cars
Standard Lamborghini not wild enough for you? How about these crazy-looking concept cars from the kings of outrageous supercars
Ferruccio Lamborghini unleashed this, the first car to bear his name, at the 1963 Turin Motor Show. Styled by Franco Scaglione, this latest entrant to the Gran Turismo firmament promised a V12 powerplant designed by Giotto Bizzarrini sited in a chassis conceived by Gian Paolo Dallara. There was, however, one slight problem-ette: thanks to its dry sump, the all-alloy engine – with its six Weber carbs – was too tall to fit under the bonnet. Unbeknownst to show-goers, the car on display was ‘powered’ by a stack of floor tiles in a bid to give it a proper–looking ride height.
AutoFact: The 350GTV was modified in the early ’90s and made roadworthy.
Lamborghini 3500GT Zagato
Lamborghini’s first production model – the 350GT – was one of the best handling cars of the period. It’s just that the media made some rather cutting comments about its looks and Ferruccio Lamborghini responded by dispatching two chassis to Zagato. The first Zagato-bodied 3500GT, as it was dubbed, made a low-key debut at the 1965 London Motor Show. Styled by Ercole Spada, and some 10cm shorter overall than its donor car, its lines were, if anything, just as challenging as the regular 350GT. That would likely explain why the project was aborted almost immediately.
AutoFact: The 3500GT was displayed at Earls Court by the short-lived British Zagato Ltd.
Given that it’s one of the most famous concept cars of all time, it’s ironic that marque instigator Ferruccio Lamborghini loathed the Marzal. Nonetheless, this gullwing-doored device foretold the Espada via Marcello Gandini’s near concurrent Jaguar-based Pirana show car. The Marzal was a true four-seater, one that featured an expansive glasshouse with much of the glazing being found in its doors. Power came from a 175bhp, two-litre ‘six’, which was in essence half a Lamborghini V12. Oddly, the Marzal was rarely seen in public: famously driven by Princess Grace before the ’67 Monaco Grand Prix, it wasn’t displayed outside Bertone’s factory museum again until 1996.
AutoFact: The Marzal sold for $1.52m in 2011 at RM Auctions’ Ville d’Este sale.
Lamborghini Countach QVX
OK, this wasn’t a concept car, and it was a product of High Wycombe rather than Sant’Agata, but it was a one-off. The QVX was conceived by the UK agent Portman Garages and based on an old Tiga CG83. Bold claims were made of a three-year race programme, with Tiff Needell and Mauro Baldi being hired to drive the car. It was tested at Silverstone in early ’86 but nothing more was heard until it appeared at the Kyalami Southern Suns 500 in South Africa later that year. Needell’s solo outing resulted in fifth place overall on aggregate after two heats.
AutoFact: The QVX was sold to the Haynes Motor Museum where it remains to this day.
The world has long been crying out for a 455bhp MPV with three rows of seats and dihedral doors. Bertone Centro Stile appeared to have come up with the answer to those prayers with the Genesis. Unveiled at the 1988 Turin Motor Show, this remarkable machine reputedly took 30,000 man hours to build and was a fully-functional prototype. Styled by the firm’s design chief Marc Deschamps, with an interior by Eugenio Pagliano, it was powered by a front-mounted V12 taken from the Countach Quattrovalvole, which was mated to a three-speed Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic gearbox.
AutoFact: The elephantine Genesis was 176in long, 78.7in wide and 60in tall.
Nowadays, it’s perhaps hard to comprehend the furore surrounding the arrival of Bertone’s Anthon show queen at the 1980 Turin Motor Show. Styled by Marc Deschamps, who had replaced the god-like Marcello Gandini as the firm’s styling chief, this wedge-shaped projectile was based on a Urraco platform, complete with mid-mounted three-litre V8. To some, the Anthon represented pure sci-fi kitsch, and the exposed, asymmetrical rear deck lid details and the LCD dashboard did little to alleviate their qualms. In typical Bertone fashion, the Anton was a fully-functional prototype. It foretold several styling trends, if not necessarily Lamborghini’s.
AutoFact: This car of the future had no attachable roof so you got wet if it rained.
Neri & Bonacini Monza
A degree of confusion surrounds this one-off coupé, not least the question of whether it’s based on a 350 or a later 400GT chassis. Legend has it that the gentleman who commissioned it wanted to race the car at Le Mans, but it never did compete in France. It was built by former Maserati racing mechanic Giorgio Neri and his partner Luciano Bonacini, the duo having hitherto manufactured Lamborghini chassis frames as subcontractors (if only briefly), although their names are inextricably linked with Giotto Bizzarrini’s eponymous creations. The car was reputedly completed in 1966 and displayed at the following year’s Barcelona Motor Show.
AutoFact: The car vanished after its Spanish debut and wasn’t seen publicly for the next 35 years.
Lamborghini Miura ‘roadster’
Bertone unveiled this one-off at the 1968 Brussels Motor Show, but there was no intention on Lamborghini’s part of creating replicas. For starters, the removal of the roof didn’t exactly aid torsional rigidity. What’s more, there was no lift-off roof-panel; occupants were left open to the elements. It was then acquired by the American ILZRO (International Lead and Zinc Research Organisation) which reworked the car as the ‘Zn75’, a name bowered from the periodic table. The brightwork was replaced, where possible, with zinc-plated parts, the original pale blue making way for a sludge-like dark green.
AutoFact: The Miura has since been restored to its original Brussels show configuration.
Penned by the great Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Calà was conceived as a spiritual successor to the Jalpa. First seen at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show, and powered by a 40-valve V10, it was intended from the outset as a production car. The dramatically-styled body featured two small lift-out glass panels, the 2+2 cabin being trimmed in claret leather and suede with seats specially made by Recaro. What’s more, it was a fully-functional prototype; one that was evaluated by several journalists in period. However, the car’s prospects were undone when Lamborghini’s Indonesian owners ran into financial trouble.
AutoFact: A Zagato-styled ‘Super-Diablo’ was killed off concurrently.
Touring Flying Star II
This awkward-looking shooting break heralded the death knell of Carrozzeria Touring, the once proud Milanese coachbuilder. It broke cover at the 1966 Turin Motor Show alongside a rather more pedestrian Fiat 124 convertible. Depending on whose version of history you believe, Flying Star II was touted as a production car but Lamborghini chose to produce the Islero instead. This one-off was based on a shortened 400GT frame and styled by Federico Formenti (the man who shaped the Aston Martin DB5) under the direction of Carlo Anderloni. However, contrary to what its outer appearance might suggest, it was strictly a two-seater.
AutoFact: The car was later owned by a Paris-based collector of shooting brakes.
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Images courtesy of Rota Archive