History revealing…

espada3_3_493e9a6dad583-lightboxA Lamborghini is the ultimate Lothario’s mode of conveyance. It screams largesse and “more money than thou” louder than any other make of car. (The green of eye and politically correct of persuasion will doubtless claim a Lamborghini screams “needledick” though…)

If you’ve not done it, you have to try it. Say: “I own a Lamborghini”. How often have you ever heard somebody say it? It conjures up a stereotype in people’s minds and can be quite perception altering. Is any other marque quite so polarizing? Sure, Rollers can cost more dough but Rollers have a degree of practicality. It’s the eye-watering costs of Lamborghinis and their [relatively speaking] absence of usefulness that makes them so utterly decadent.

Except for the Espada. I must confess to a perverse enjoyment in watching people’s reactions to discovering I own a Lamborghini. Everybody wants to have a look. Non-car people are surprised that as the garage door opens there are four round headlights where the thin end of a wedge was expected to be. But they also look relieved that maybe I’m not the lothario/poseur they’d begun to fear I might be. Disdain to relief to curiosity: “what the hell is that?” Girlfriends have had a variety of reactions: it’s been called “ugly”, “that funny old thing”, and “gorgeous!” (with a squeal). One girl, to my immense surprise, thought the smell of petrol and leather was divine… Connoisseurs love them though and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s probably more fun to own one now than when they were new.

The first place I took my Espada was to Brands Hatch the day after it had arrived on my drive. Parked up in the paddock it drew crowds from the moment we arrived. The next day, (race day) I drove to Kent again and got a paddock pass for my friend Mark to bring his new Murcielago in as well. It turned out his Murcielago is almost the same colour as the Espada so parked together they looked terrific. Sadly, I didn’t have a camera with me but lots of other people did and I’d love to see their photos (can anybody reading this help?). After Brands Hatch, I couldn’t use the Espada very much due to weather and salt on the roads. I could – and often did – just go and look at it in the garage. Precious, m-y-y-y-y precious!

As soon as spring 2004 came around, I started to use it as I would my other cars; for work, for shopping (always straddled across two parking spaces to protect the doors – sod the ticket) and just generally mooching about (provided the sun was out). After 1,000 miles I had the carbs tweaked, the spark plugs replaced and the oil changed. A Barrs ‘dog turd’ leak sealant was put in the radiator to cure a very slight leak when the water pressure built up. I also replaced the battery with the biggest one I could fit in the hole.

It didn’t take long for word to get out that an Espada was in town. People I’d not seen or spoken to for ages phoned out of the blue to ask “Have you just bought an Espada by any chance?” Several times I was asked to start it up ‘down the phone’!

A conversation with David Lillywhite at Octane Magazine revealed that he was an Espada fan and so a feature was organized. For various reasons, the feature kept being promised in the Next Month section …and then not appearing. Apparently, this resulted in people phoning Octane to ask where the feature was. David and I obviously aren’t the only people who like Espadas! The feature was worth the wait though (Octane No19) and the title ‘Glam Shock’ was inspired.

In October 2004, the Espada was sent back to its ‘hotel’, Collectors Car Management, for winter, where it’s looked after by the supremely capable Jim Wilkie. CCM has a different approach to most car storage places. For a start, the spotless storeroom has purpose-built plant to precisely control the atmosphere. All the cars are provided with fitted covers and a battery conditioner/charger. On top of this, Jim regularly exercises the cars and attends to small jobs if or when they arise. All the aforementioned are included in the price. £58.75/week might sound expensive but ‘active storage’ is a very effective preventative measure that reduces service and repair costs. The weekly price per car falls if you store more than one car. Jim is a fascinating character and I could listen to him talk about cars: he works on anything from 19th century stuff to F40s, boats and planes.

As I was working in the north at the beginning of 2005, the Espada didn’t come out of hibernation until June, at which point I laid up my Cerbera 4.5 in the Lamborghini’s active space at CCM. The first Espada outing was for the BRDC’s Retrorun at Silverstone, where I met a couple of other classic Lambo owners (Jalpa and another Espada). I also met a very knowledgeable chap called Paul Clemence who has spent years tracking and logging Lamborghinis. Mine was one he hadn’t seen before – or so he thought.

When I bought the car, I logged on to lamborghiniregistry.com to check out my chassis number, 9704. To my surprise, there was a brown Espada, registered RUU 533R (previously 800 SYD) listed against 9704. There is no evidence on my car of it ever being brown. I filed my details and the registrar left a request for anyone to come forward and shed some light on the confusion. The story I had for the car was that in the 80s a group of investors had sought an example of each Lamborghini model to restore at no expense spared and then display in a museum. My car was the Espada of the collection. Apparently the restoration got as far as a restored shell, refreshed driveline and a pile of original boxed parts when the classic market crashed. It stayed in kit form for a few years, having been acquired from administrators by marque specialist Colin Clark.

The wife of the guy I bought the car from had bought the car as a 40th birthday gift for him, and Clark rebuilt it for them. My own digging revealed that Paul Clemence had been the person who had filed the 800 SYD car as 9704 at the Registry. Had he seen my car before in brown? At about the same time, Paul had realised 9704 already existed in his records as a brown car. I will get to the bottom of the story and writing this has reminded me to get back on the trail in time for my next journal.

After Silverstone, I was invited to display the Espada at the Goodwood Road Racing Club’s Members’ Day. It turns out one of Lord March’s close colleagues is another Espada fan. The weather was glorious and the run to and from the south coast was the longest run I’d done in the car. Having set off early, I pretty much had the roads to myself on the way there but the return journey meant getting caught in the M25’s Terminal 5 roadworks which was a bit nerve-wracking as the oil and water temperature gauges headed towards the end of their scales. I made a note to check out the cooling system over winter.

A highlight of the year was going to the Shelsley Walsh Centenary in the Espada. Shelsley, pretty much the birthplace of motorsport, is a magical place and the variety of cars running up the hill was spectacular. The event was like a cross between Goodwood’s Revival and Festival of Speed meetings. Howling up and down the surrounding Malvern Hills in the Espada was spectacular in its own right too!

The last major outing of 2005 was back to Goodwood for the Revival, then the Espada was back to its hotel for winter. I made a conscious decision to use it a lot more in 2006 now I’d blown the cobwebs out…





Phil James