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12-12-2001, 10:38 PM
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12-24-2001, 09:13 AM

01-12-2002, 08:25 PM
by Robert Puyal

The 350 and 400 GT, the first Lamborghinis, were not that remarkable, with their oval eyes. The Miura, in 1968, cooly imposed its angelic lines and its design upset all the prevailing wisdom of the time. In 1968, the Islero would disappoint the new fans of the marque: it reengineered very few technical aspects of the 400 GT and its lines were pure, simple and unornamented.

Beautiful? For you to judge. In comparison to the vote that welcomed the Miura, or the Marzal prototype of 1967, the reactions were quite lukewarm. They have been that way since. None, though, judged the lines of the Islero as lacking interesting qualities. Today, it is exotic because of age, but collectors refuse to have anything to do with it: too modern, with its clean lines and alloy rims inherited from the Miura that replaced spoked wheels. No content...

For its design, Lamborghini would have been happy to call on Touring, who had already assembled the 400 GT after having revised the initial design of Scaglione and Bertone. Except that Touring was in bankruptcy. The way led to Carozzeria Marazzi, a small facility that recovered some Touring personnel. A continuation with a change of name, in essence.

Appropriate to the name Miura, the one you know, which is a breed of fighting bulls, the new firm's emblem shows a bull charging, head tilted, ready to gore all who pass, including the Cavallino that imprudently rears up. With the name "Islero", there is a degree of the brutality of these beasts, because it is the name of a particular Miura bull, who is remembered because, in 1947, it killed the celebrated matador Manolete. I leave you to appreciate the doubtful taste of this homage.

The ambience on board is dominated by two feelings: first of all, the grand brightness and magnificent visibility in all directions that can be enjoyed by both driver and passenger (forgot to mention the back, the "+2" is particularly hypocritical here). Mario Marazzi had designed the openings to be large, and one of the rare stylistic effects that he authorized was the grand height of the rear window, fooling the eye with the vertical de-icing resistor lines, then a luxury. The second great pleasure, the ability to be comfortably seated in an Lamborghini -- in the Miura, Countach and Diablo we miss this precious sensation. The steering wheel of the Islero is placed a bit to the right, but one's feet are comfortable, and the left front wheel does not encroach to the clutch pedal.

Contact (as they say). Listen for the pump clicks. Wait a few seconds for the twelve carbs to fill up. A quick stroke of the starter (a discreet sound), without touching the accelerator, and a very slight sound, nearly electric, is heard: it is the V-12 idling. To assure that it is properly started, one taps the toe of the right pedal; it is now enough! The twelve cylinders reveal an indiscreet roar. If one accelerates purposefully, it is true music. For cornering, so as not to lose the back end, it is better to coast; the flexibility is enough. However, pulling from low speed has never been the strength of a V12. This engine is no exception, but on the other hand, its climb to speed is close to the best, similar to that of the only competition then, the Ferrari 330 GT, in the tree-stump pulling delivery.

Like it is in the case of the 400 GT, its predecessor, the suspension is altogether well though out. Not only does the geometry (simple and quite race-like: the four wheels are independently suspended via dual A-arms) insulate the driver from surprises and the twisting of the rigid rear axle, but the compromise between the requirements of comfort and those of good handling is almost modern. But this effectiveness is not on par with contemporary cars. Do not forget that a simple modern touring car handles better than the Islero, aided by the wide tires that today are the rule. With the Islero, lifting the throttle is accompanied by some hesitation, and vigorous braking is counseled against without a firm hold on the steering wheel. Direction changes are slow, with four turns, lock to lock. Better to not count when quickly countersteering during a skid. But the one time that the driver has taken the measure of the possibilities, taken the intrinsic quality of the car's general balance, and the healthy way it settles on the suspension, the Islero runs fast. And above all, it takes its speed with ease.

If you truly have a choice, opt for an S. Not so much for the extra 30 horsepower, always a bit theoretical with an old car, but for the rear suspension, taken from the Espada and less subject to deformations than the previous design. And so, have a good drive. It is the thread of miles that the Islero likes, over a distance, if possible, where one can avail oneself of high speed away from the congestion in which we have engulfed ourselves.

Caught out by the Miura, that magnificent monster of the road, and the Espada, with its charismatic true 2+2 elegance, the Islero has not known success. Too bad, because it is lighter and more effective than the latter and, certainly, more easy to live with than the excessive Miura. Such is better for those who today appreciate its discretion: after all, for a personality rich in talents, if with a modest appearance, it is deserving of more.

Buying an Islero: The most difficult thing is finding one. Then, it is simple to make an offer. Contrary to certain other Italian GTs, the prices are stupidly reasonable: from 150000-200000FF (US$20-30000) for a car of 320 to 350 (S version) horsepower, it is a gift. A beautiful Islero S was recently advertised in Paris, asking 240000FF. To assure oneself the best chance of good brakes, always justified, it is essential to use the best clamps for both the disks and brake lines. Here one will need to use a professional to purge the brakes. The advice from us, based on our experience, is that you must regularly maintain this beast. In addition to the brakes, there are the twelve carburaters that need tuning.

Photo captions:
Next to the exuburance of the Miura, the Islero took, during the 60s, the difficult role of "the sensible Lamborghini". It is also a GT of the highest class.

The transmission is pleasant, conditionally upon practise of double declutching and heel-and-toe downshifting ... The driving position is correct! Under the hood, the eternal V12, here in the 4 L carburated version: 350 horses. It is this that is the sole reason to spring for this beauty.

The driving experience of the Islero gives a sense of liveliness, effectiveness and it is remarkably suitable for long distances. Watch out all the same: such power in an old fashioned chassis is like having strong alcohol -- savor with moderation.

Long, low-slung, and compact, the Islero has no gaudy lines. But who buys it? Watch out, a return to favor may result in a rapid rise in price...


Years of Production: 1968/1969
Number constructed: 125/100
Type: 60 degree V12
Material: Alloy
Displacement: 3929 cu cm
Bore/Stroke: 82mm x 62mm
Carburation: 6 Weber 40 DCOE
Max Horsepower: 320@6500rpm/350@7700rpm
Max Torque: 38.5mkg@5000rpm/40mkg@5500rpm
Advertised: 1460kg
Measured: 1483kg
Power/weight: 4.4kg/horsepower
Performance (circa 1968)
Max Speed: 251kph
400m: 15s
1km: 27.2s

01-14-2002, 03:59 PM
Chassis 6621

"DOHC 60 V-12; 3927 cc, front longitudinally mounted, type L401; alloy block and cylinder heads, 10.8:1 compression ratio, 82 mm x 62 mm bore and stroke, 6 Weber Double Barrel 40 DCOE/20, 350bhp at 7500 rpm, 5-speed gearbox, tubular steel frame, 4 wheel independent suspension, front and rear Girling hydraulic brakes, Campagnolo aluminum rims with 205VR 15 tires

Wheelbase: 2550 mm; 100.4 in
Front track: 1380 mm; 54.33 in
Rear track: 1380 mm; 54.33 in
Dry Weight: 1315 kg; 2904 lbs
Performance: Maximum speed 250 kph (155 mph); 1/4 mile in 14.9 sec Production: May 1969 / April 1970
Number of vehicles constructed: 100 (series numbered from 6381 to 6671)
Original list price: $20,000

The Lamborghini Islero was the follow-on model to the 400GT. It is one of the more obscure Lamborghini models, due to it being released in conjunction with the mid-engined Miura and only shortly before the Espada.

The first model Islero came about because the builder of the 400 GT bodies got into financial trouble at the beginning of the 1960s. This company, Touring Milan, eventually went bankrupt, and all production stopped in 1967. Lamborghini had to find another solution to continue development and fabrication of the 400 GT 2+2. Ferrari had proved with its 4 liter 330 GT 2+2 and later in 1967 with the 365 GT 2+2, that there was a clientele for this type of car, and Lamborghini was keen to continue building the type. Lamborghini turned to a small factory in Varese, Carozzeria Marrazi SPA, which had several ex-Touring employees. Mario Marazzi was charged with the design and construction of the replacement for the original 400 GT, originally designed by Scaglione. Marrazi's design was not flamboyant, but its lines, discreet and tasteful, are not without elegance.

The new 400 GT was named Islero, after the famous fighting bull that killed the matador Manuel Rodriquez on August 28, 1947. The drivetrain was inherited from the preceeding 400, and the car was quite fast, especially in the S version that appeared in 1969. The Islero reached a top speed of 161 mph and did a standing kilometer in just over 25 seconds. At the time, it was one of the quickest cars in the world.

The Islero S, was introduced in 1969. It had slightly more horsepower, a modified rear suspension, a slightly reworked body, and a more functional interior.

This particular car has had an eventful life. Today, it lives in San Francisco. Previously, it spent a decade in Missouri, after being brought from Wisconsin with an disassembled engine. Before that, the provenance of the car is not well-known, with the exception of its appearance in the book "Lamborghini, Supreme amongst Exotics", by Andrew Morland, in which the history is documented further to include owners in Germany, Lebanon and England."

04-26-2002, 06:13 AM

10-09-2002, 01:59 PM
These are very nice little cars, especially for the weekend. My girlfriend had one, and we used to go out into the country with it. Quite hard gettign a Hamper into the Boot though!

10-09-2002, 04:08 PM
did you drove it?
how did it handled?

10-10-2002, 02:07 AM
Really fun. Quite pacey on the accleleration, and thec handling was supreme for the time.

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