The Lamborghini Espada is a four-seater grand touring coupe built from 1968 to 1978. The Espada replaced the 400 GT 2+2, which was Lamborghini’s first true four-seater design. There were three different series of the Espadas made: Series I (1968 to 1970), Series II (1970 to 1972), and Series III (1972 to 1978). The name comes from the Spanish term for sword, and refers more specifically to the sword that is used in bullfighting to bring the bull to its death. A total of 1,227 units were produced making this a best selling Lamborghini from 1968 to 1978.
Lamborghini Espada Design and Introduction
This vehicle was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, who had also designed the Lamborghini Marzal and the Miura. His designs were ubiquitous with the Lamborghini name. The first design of the Lamborghini Espada was shown to the public at the 1968 Geneva Motor Show. It featured a 4L V12 engine previously used in the 400 GT 2+2 and produced 330 PS (325 horsepower). The semi-monocoque unibody construction is made from pressed steel and square-section tubing. Unfortunately, reports indicate that some vehicles experienced rust issues early in their life. Suspension was fully independent with unequal length double-wishbones, coil springs, and hydraulic shocks paired with sway bars. The four-wheel disc brakes feature three-piston calipers. The octagonal housings for the main instruments were inspired by a Marzal concept car also designed by Gandini. The magnesium alloy wheels were made by Campagnolo.
Series II Espada Changes
In 1970, changes came to the Espada, releasing it as the Series II (or S2) version. While the exterior changes were quite limited (removal of the grille covering a glass tail panel), a complete interior redesign took place. The instrument cluster returned to a more traditional rectangular shape with round gauges, while the center console was revised for increased comfort. Ventilation was improved for the rear seat passengers. A prominent wood-trimmed fascia went across the entire dash. Additional changes to the Espada S2 included output boosts to 355 PS (350 horsepower) with a high 10.7:1 compression ratio. CV joints were added to the read half-shafts, and vented Girling disc brakes improved brake performance and cooling, especially under spirited driving situations. Power steering became an option in later years of the S2. Overall, 575 Espada S2s were produced.
The Final Series III Updates
After just two short years, the Lamborghini Series III Espada was released in 1972. This time changes came again to the interior but also included some exterior updates. Inside, you would find some fo the wood replaced with aluminum trim instead, and an instrument panel that tried to put function first by placing everything close to the driver’s hands. An option for a sunroof could finally open the roof to some light and much needed additional air for the rear seats. Air conditioning because an option too. Turning to the outside and you’d find all new five-stud hubs and wider 215/70WR15 tires from Pirelli. The front grille turned from a previous hexagonal mesh to a square design that brought a modern update to the front of the Espada. In 1974, a Chrysler Torqueflite 3-speed automatic transmission could be fitted. 1975 saw large impact bumpers added to the US models to meet safety requirements, plus a secondary air injection pump was added and tuning of the carbs had to be done to meet emissions requirements. While these changes might be considered large enough for the consumer to put 1975 models in a different category, Lamborghini did not officially rename this version and instead stuck with the Series III designation. There have been multiple rumors of a revival of the Espada from Lamborghini, first in 1999 and again in 2006. However, none have actually come to fruition.