Blowing out the cobwebs

espada4_2_493e9d914e785-lightboxI asked Jim-the-Bentley to give the car a thorough service and general check ready for me to pick the car during the week before. He and I had plotted to make a custom high-performance radiator using the stock Lamborghini radiator frame but with a modern big capacity core. When it came to it, the manufacturing lead-time was weeks so, instead, the standard radiator was blasted through with some kind of caustic fluid and then high pressure tested. Loads of detritus came out of the radiator, it passed the pressure test and I saved £700.

Having seen all the rubbish from the radiator, Jim then did the same to the engine, liberating even more crud from the cooling system. All the other fluids in the car were drained or flushed and the latest high-tech lubricants were poured into the diff, gearbox and engine.

Some time ago, Jim had called me about a new power steering pump and master distributor he had found (the Lamborghini V12 has two distributors, each mounted on a camshaft of the off-side cylinder bank). These items cost me £200 in the summer of 2005 and were put on ‘my shelf’. I’d also bought a pair of smart, alloy cigarette lighters from a TVR Tuscan to replace the rather horrible standard ones.

Jim was on schedule to have a fairly relaxed week leading up to a Thursday or Friday collection date before Goodwood, but then I then got a call from Bianca Fowler at Lamborghini Club UK asking if I could bring my car to Brighton on the Wednesday for a PR photo to publicise May’s Lamborghini Supercar Celebration. So I called Jim on the Tuesday to ruin his week and ask for the car back at “9am tomorrow”. The cost of the service and fitting the spares from ‘my shelf’ cost £400. The car was duly prepared and warmed up at the specified time.

Mr. Yu had requested that I monitor fuel consumption for Auto-Journals so I brimmed the Espada’s tanks with Optimax, noted the odometer, and set off on a ‘long route’ out to the M25. Shades on and Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” on the deck and I was back in 1978 doing period plutocrat chic, man.

I met up at The Grand Hotel with a Countach, a very special Diablo SE, a Murcielago and a Gallardo. Amongst ‘normal’ cars the Espada looks incredibly low but parked in the midst of this lot, the Espada looked tall and a little awkward. This was actually the first time I’d met with a group of serious, and serial, Lamborghini owners. Over coffee I listened to tales of flame-spitting Countach adventures, paint swapping escapades between a Countach and a Diablo on a trackday, arrests in Europe, throwing ladies’ underwear over the walls of a convent… Proper old school high jinx!

Four V12 Lamborghinis in a convoy (the Gallardo left early) had heads spinning as we left Brighton. Up the M23 we changed the order of the convoy so we all got to see and hear one another’s cars in action. Fantastic! While the Espada is no match in performance terms to the big middies, it’s no slouch. One by one the others turned off leaving me to cruise home solo. Considering the spirited drive through lanes between home and the M25 and the motorway thrash with the others, I was amazed to calculate that fuel consumption for the day was 18.9 MPG. I can only assume this is testament to how well Jim has set up the carburettors. (Period road tests achieved between 11 and 15 MPG)

For the Sunday run to Goodwood, I got up at the crack of dawn to meet up with some friends in Guildford at 7.30am. With the roads to myself at such an ungodly hour I put my foot down and ‘made progress’ to the rendezvous point. I ended up leading a convoy from Guildford and I know the road down to Goodwood very well. The Espada got a good workout as I threaded together the twists and turns followed by a six litre Diablo and various other high-performance cars.

I can’t begin to explain the buzz of driving this fabulous old car at full chat along clear, challenging roads at a thoroughly modern pace. What on earth must it have felt like in the Espada’s mid-70s heyday? Few cars could even reach 100mph back then, let alone cruise at higher speeds or, indeed, handle at such speeds. It truly is a remarkable car – I love it!

At Goodwood, mine was the only Espada amongst a mere handful of Lamborghinis in attendance. A gorgeous Miura was given pride of place. Predictably, there were wall-to-wall Ferraris but seeing three De Tomasos together (Pantera, Mangusta and Longchamps) was a highlight for me. The Goodwood run was a bit more twisty and spirited than the Brighton run in the week due to the lanes and A roads so fuel consumption increased to a still pretty remarkable 16.8 MPG.

The next outing was AutoItalia at Brooklands. Again, I mapped a long route down a labyrinth of lanes in order to savour the journey. Although the Espada is really an autostrada express, I’m really getting into lane-running with it; listening to the fabulous sounds it makes ricocheting off walls and hedges. There were a lot more Lamborghinis at AutoItalia although mine was still the only Espada. A highlight of the journey back was falling into a high-speed convoy headed by a new Rolls-Royce Phantom with me behind and followed by an Aston Martin DB9 Volante. What a great sight that must have made as the three of us sped past the Saturday afternoon M25 traffic!

I’ve been using the Espada for general running about since AutoItalia just for the hell of it. With its cobwebs blown out, it just seems to get better and better.






Phil James