"Affordable" Espada Project Hell? Don't Mind if I Do!

1971 lamborghini espada for saleFew vehicles of the 1970s managed to both embrace the ethos of the ’70s and carry legitimate, unironic coolness like the Espada. It took a while for the world to catch up to that realization, so more than almost any other Lambo they suffered heinous neglect or were robbed of their V12s so that “better” Lambos could live.

Today we’re checking both of those boxes: lousy condition and no drivetrain. However, in contrast to the ever-rising prices of Espadas in good shape, this one’s still dangerously affordable. At the current $8,150 price, it could work as the foundation for an interesting project. Personally, I’d say Step One has to be giving up on it ever being properly restored. This one’s rough enough that attempting to source or refurbish every lest Lamborghini-specific trim, wiring, or drivetrain part would be a never ending quest.

Let’s cut a few corners, but still get creative…

Personally, I’d go after a period-correct-ish build that uses somewhat more obtainable and serviceable parts. Knowing that Lamborghini’s automotive division was started specifically to spite Ferrari, picking a motor from another 1960s Ferrari antagonist seems fitting. Given the size of that engine bay, I vote we go big: a Ford FE 427 side-oiler reproduced in aluminum. We can’t just slap some Holley Double-Pumper on there are call it good; instead, let’s get a proper set of Webers atop an Inglese manifold. Back it up with a four speed Toploader or go nuts and adapt a six-speed for the double-overdrive and untaxed grand touring experience.

Having just blown the budget on a gnarly powertrain (which surely won’t immediately obliterate the factory rear IFS), let’s re-cover the seats and do the minimum to make the interior livable. Lay down some heat/noise blocking paint and call it a day.

Anyway, with a four-digit price tag, this Espada’s just cheap enough to be dangerous. Surely it can’t be that hard to get some version of this thing driving again, right?
1971 Lamborghini Espada project – eBay Motors

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41 responses to “"Affordable" Espada Project Hell? Don't Mind if I Do!”

  1. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    I’d like a project car for retirement years. As long as I didn’t have to buy expensive Lambo parts I’d give it a try.

  2. engineerd Avatar

    I was thinking Ford powertrain, as well. Your choice of the 427 FE engine is logical given that is what the Mk II/IV GT40s ran. Given the shape this thing is in, though, I might go with a more “restomod” approach. 5.0L Coyote with a T56 transmissions.
    Where I’m struggling is with the wheels. Do you refurb the Campagnolo mags or replace with something else (possibly selling the Campagnolos to help fund the project)? If something else, what? Maybe Panasports for fun?

  3. desmo Avatar

    Removing the rust on an italian car of the 70s is impossible. The brand does not matter. A Ferrari is not different from a Lambo or a Fiat in this. The only thing that you can do is to rebuild the whole car. This is what the owner tried here- and failed.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      Does Redi-Strip still exist? Completely strip the shell (photo-documenting along the way), and then haul it to Redi-Strip, to chemically strip it. Then once it’s stripped and coated to stop rust, replace the rusty metal.

      1. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

        As I understand, there are still a few places in the U.S. that do acid-stripping of metals. Strip it down, coat it with POR-15, sand it, prime it, paint it.

        1. dukeisduke Avatar

          I just remember seeing Redi-Strip ads in the Hemmings years ago (1980?), and that they were a franchise operation. I think the closest one to Dallas was somewhere in Oklahoma.

  4. Alff Avatar

    Normally I have no trouble thinking outside the box but this thing makes me want to walk away quickly.

  5. CruisinTime Avatar

    “TFG ” too far gone.

  6. rumblestrip Avatar

    If you wanted to go V12 transplant, you could always go with the Merc V12, but yes I think a Coyote V8 could be good here, or to piss people off a Sloppy Mechanics special, i.e. junkyard Turbo LS.

    1. kogashiwa Avatar

      Toyota Century V12.

    2. crank_case Avatar

      Or a BMW S70 from a scrapped 850i?

  7. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    The closest thing this has to an up side is that you get to say that you own a Lamborghini. Of course, no one would be impressed once they see it, so you couldn’t show it to anyone, and if you can’t show off your Lamborghini, you might as well not own one, and just say you do.

  8. Krautwursten Avatar

    At least put a V12 in it. Sound wise the XJ-S is the perfect candidate.

    1. Alff Avatar

      I’ll just take this instead and be done with it.

    2. PaulE Avatar

      That sounds absolutely glorious, dang it… Now I have to put one of these on my personal future toy/PCH list.

  9. dukeisduke Avatar

    I think that even in aluminum, a 427 FE would be too heavy. I’d go with the 5.0 Coyote with a T56, or, thinking even further outside the box, a 3.5 Ecoboost motor, backed by a six-speed.

    1. mad_science Avatar

      253kg = 557lbs dry weight
      Aluminum block + heads + intake on a 427 would be in the same ballpark. Hell, even an iron block Ford small block is in the high 400s.

  10. 0A5599 Avatar

    If Lambos are robbed of V12 engines for better Lambos, I think this one can be saved with Fiero drivetrain parts.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      I wonder where you’d put the lambo engine to make the receiving car better. .

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        Something with sexier packaging but minus a functioning Lambo engine. Race car, roadster, or perhaps a boat.

  11. Batshitbox Avatar

    Hybrid Drivetrain Espada.

    1. kogashiwa Avatar

      LS600h donor car? Probably quicker than stock.

    2. mad_science Avatar

      Nice spot!
      Definitely the same car. Maybe my prediction came true.
      This ad points out that the title says ’66, which is obviously wrong (Espada didn’t even come out until ’68).

      1. jeepjeff Avatar

        The guy who just sold it did get some stuff done. Compare the pictures of the center console.

    3. CruisinTime Avatar

      Winning bid:
      US $16,988.00

  12. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I’d probably hatch some hairbrain scheme to fit a gas turbine, and then fall back on the old classic Lambo re-engine option… Cummins Diesel.

  13. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I’m thinking turbo Mazda rotary conversion, light, compact, powerful and screaming at redline. Also just do the hood as a fiberglass flip front.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      You don’t need turbos if you have enough rotors.
      Use a six rotor. Just what’s needed to replace a V12.

      1. jeepjeff Avatar

        Just saying. You could still put a turbo on that. Maybe two or three.

        1. jeepjeff Avatar

          And spend the rest of your life changing out apex seals. But you’d get the occasional short drive in.

        2. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          You’re right. Turbos.
          And if the factory 20B triple rotor has two, a six rotor should have four.
          Better reliability if kept near stock specs.

  14. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

    Here’s what I’d do: Strip it down, have it acid dipped, then fix any major rust/damage areas, POR-15 the chassis/interior/engine bay, etch prime it, prime it, paint it. For the interior: Lizard skin it, recover the seats and dash, and then use any off-the-shelf parts (gauges, switches, etc.) or make any custom parts (carpet, door-panels, lexan/perspex glass, etc) necessary to complete it. For the drivetrain: Definitely a T56 transmission, and maybe an LS-based engine (because LSs are cheap, reliable, and can make butt-tons of power). For ~$40k or so someone could have a car that looks like a Lamborghini Espada, and seats four in exotic fashion, but with the reliability and functionality of a more modern car.
    Or make a Mad-Max-esque car out of it with Line-X, a blown big block, a lift, and off-road tires.
    Or just part it out and scrap the rest.

  15. mdharrell Avatar

    LeMons needs more flathead straight eights.

  16. mr smee Avatar
    mr smee

    The hood, I don’t care about anything but the NACA-ducted hood, NACA ducts…my precious! Actually, I think a 2JZ-TE would suffice, and as best can restore the rest. Keep the green.

  17. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    The perfect vehicle for an Audi W12 transplant. ( Audi own Lamborghini don’t they?) After all what else could you put a W12 in?
    Or. Audi again. The V12 diesel from a rolled Q7 write-off converted to run on vegetable oil.

    1. Maymar Avatar

      I was going to say something easy like the 4.2, just whatever junkyard Audi motor you could find. But, you stepped up with the right answer, so even though I have no idea if it’s feasible (I certainly couldn’t do it), force two VR6’s together lengthwise, and drop that in!

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        Bentley W12 for the turbos and to really piss off the purists?

  18. CruisinTime Avatar

    Winning bid:
    US $16,988.00 Just about fell over! Had no idea that crap was so pricey.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      It’s worth that in parts. Which is probably what it will end up as.

  19. JBsC6 Avatar

    Id strip it down and repainted it…drop in an inexpensive LS motor and transmission..
    I wouldn’t spend too much and I wouldn’t make it perfect.

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