With Porsche and Aston Martin both offering low-line four-seaters with exceptional performance, it’s easy to forget that we’ve been here before. The super-sports four-seater surfaces at regular intervals: in the Eighties the Lotus Excel and Renault GTA both allowed you to bring three pals along for a rapid trip, while until it went mid-engined Ferrari usually had a 2+2 in its range. But the mould-breaker was Lamborghini, whose sensational 150mph Marzal concept car could have driven off the set of Thunderbirds. With its glass sides, that exhibitionists’ delight was never going into production, but it sired the Espada, a massive machine that could convey four businessmen to their next meeting faster than a light plane.
Lower down the range, between Espada and Miura, Sant’ Agata served up the slightly underwhelming Islero in 1968 – to no great acclaim – before rethinking it. The result was the Jarama – two large and two small seats clothed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, in striking angular lines perfect for the 1970s. Retractable headlamp covers gave a cleaner nose without the problems of pop-up lights, and impressive NACA ducts on the bonnet added a touch of aerospace tech. It would be the last front-engined V12 to come from the Lamborghini factory.
The one in Foskers’ showroom displays all the benefits of the model’s mid-life upgrade, including a sleeker cockpit layout and a 365bhp tweak that pushed the open-road max to 160mph.
“This is the S version,” says Gary Fry of Foskers, “which has power steering, better rear legroom, and a big air intake across the bonnet. And it sounds wonderful!”
Running on a shortened version of the Espada’s floorpan, the Jarama naturally relies on unequal-length wishbone suspension to hold it up, with the glorious 12-cylinder masterpiece nestling low between the front wheels.
It’s an impressive feat of packaging that would have upstaged most machinery you’d see on the road four decades back. “You do sit very low,” Gary says, “and it’s not the easiest thing in terms of getting in or out, but the controls are near at hand and there’s a lovely short shift action to the gearlever. And the boot is massive – you could easily stick a set of golf clubs in there.”
Having been restored, this Jarama is in fine shape and shows 45,000 miles on the dial. Only 23 came with the wood-rimmed three-spoked wheel on the British side of the dash, which makes it a rarity, and it appeared on the Cartier concours lawn at the Goodwood Festival. Which is a feather in any car’s cap.
ENGINE V12, 4.0 litres, 365bhp
TRANSMISSION five-speed manual
SUSPENSION front and rear: double wishbones, coil springs
TOP SPEED 160mph