A Lamborghini is not a pair of sensible shoes. You don’t want one because of how many miles it can eke out of a gallon of petrol, or how many pot plants it can ferry home from the garden centre. A Lamborghini uses a combination of power and beauty to make you lust after it in a way that you will struggle to define or control.
So the idea of a “budget” Lamborghini just seems wrong. And yet that is how the Urraco was positioned when it was unveiled as a concept car in 1970. Up until then, Lamborghini had used big V12 engines to power its cars, giving them monster performance that gave local rival Ferrari a lot to think about.
But Ferrari already had its own baby, the Dino, and the success of Porsche’s 911 was showing that a fast car didn’t need to be quite so shouty. The Urraco – or “little bull” – had a V8 engine with a modest 2.5-litre capacity, later increased to three litres for more power, and also reduced to two litres to comply with stringent Italian tax laws.
The Urraco did a lot with its relatively small engine, the 2.5-litre propelling it to better than 140mph, and getting to 60mph in around seven seconds – nothing to get all boasty about these days but more than respectable in the pre-Star Wars era.
The intention was that the Urraco would be Lamborghini’s volume seller, but existing financial problems at the company meant production was slow. By the time the first cars started coming out of the factory in 1973, orders were being cancelled in frustration and the model was off to a bad start. By the time production ended in 1978, fewer than 800 Urracos had been made.
As a piece of design the car has aged very well. It is sandwiched chronologically between the two best-known beasts from Lamborghini’s back catalogue, the Miura and the Countach. Whilst those are full-blooded V12 supercars, the thing they share with the Urraco is being the work of the genius Marcello Gandini, then design chief at Carozzeria Bertone.
The Urraco’s classic status is inevitably overshadowed by the Miura and the Countach, but that makes it far more accessible. Tatty examples can be picked up very cheaply, but they should be avoided because putting things right on a badly kept car will cost more than you save. As time passes and more people come to appreciate the Urraco for the beautiful little thing it is, a nicely kept example like the one pictured here could just turn out to be a very canny purchase. Almost sensible, at least for a Lamborghini.
The 1975 Lamborghini Urraco P250S with coachwork by Carrozzeria Bertone is Lot 65 in the Bonhams sale at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting on Sunday 19th March 2017. Estimate £60,000 – £80,000