September 18, 2020

Jalpa Means Jalpa

Lamborghini Jalpa CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-15
Words and photos by Michael Chandler

Yup.  At least according to Google Translate.  It’s also a city in Mexico, so there’s that.  More importantly: it’s the name of a breed of Spanish fighting bull, which is perfect for a Lamborghini.  A V8 powered Lamborghini at that.

Lamborghini Jalpa CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-2

They made 410 of the mid-engined coupes between 1981 and 1988.  That’s 110 LESS than the Urraco P250 for those who are curious.  Why did they make so few of them?  Well, having to compete against the Ferrari 308, then 328 didn’t help.  Neither did a Porsche 911 that was coming into its own, when it wasn’t killing yuppies.  And having your stablemate being THE iconic 80’s car didn’t help matters either.

Lamborghini Jalpa CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-5

While the Urraco had issues with underpowered engines and generally being difficult to drive, the Jalpa had these issues solved.  The 3.5L V8 was rated at 255 horsepower, and it was generally easier to drive.  It was even offered for sale in the US from day one!  Unfortunately, the ergonomics were not the best.  The windscreen cause distracting reflections, the driving position wasn’t very comfortable, the headlights were dim and the side mirrors weren’t stable at speed.

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None of these really matter though.  It was cheaper than the Countach, but infinitely easier to drive and live with.  The exterior design is elegant, yet still exotic and the only roofing option was a targa.  And it sounds amazing.  The 3.5L V8, while not the most iconic of Lamborghini engines or even Italian V8s, still sounds amazing after all these years.

Lamborghini Jalpa CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-9

A quick perusing of Hemming’s Classifieds has two for sale, but only one has a price listed.  A black, 1985 model with a little over 27,000 miles is listed for $119,900.  There are two Countachs listed for north of $400k.  Affordable?  By comparison they are!  And you could have an easier time driving and enjoying the Jalpa.

Lamborghini Jalpa CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-8

If the thought of driving around in something that may, or may not, have been originally purchased with proceeds from sales of non-licensed South American stimulants excites you, then take a look at the Jalpa.  If that thought doesn’t excite you, consult a medical professional.  There could be something wrong with you.

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Michael Chandler

Director of Photography, writer, man about town and owner of Big Ronda, the Mk3 Toyota Supra project

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