Goodwood 2016: Lamborghini, Art, Design and Popular Culture

Lamborghini has never been a brand to conform to convention. There has never been a Raging Bull that followed the herd. Here, in a corner of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, we find a small assembly of some of Sant’Agata’s wildest creations.
Can a car define its era, or does its era define IT? I always feel that Ferarris are styled after artistic ideals, whereas a Lamborghini is designed out of sheer passion. If a Ferrari is the work of an impressionist, a Lambo is more like cubism. Art borne out of mood. I thought it might be fun to try and work out what was in the minds of the creators when this little lot were first drawn up.

Let’s go through things chronologically, starting with the Muira. Arguably the highlight of Marcello Gandini’s early car-design career. This is a car that even the most reluctant of aesthetes can’t deny is beautiful, a large portion of which are probably men. The Muira does, after all, look rather like a nubile female reclined.
There’s no doubting its intended market, wealthy playboys, frightful chauvinists perhaps, but people who appreciated, and were probably addicted to, the female form. This car oozes lust. It’s a celebration of the most desirable women of the ’60s. It’s Bridget Bardot and Britt Ekland all rolled into one.
The Muira is globally hailed as one of the all-time classic shapes, and just as the human body is as perfect as our stage of evolution allows, the Muira is timeless and can only be dated to a specific era because we know what it is.
Outright beauty took a back seat in the late ’60s and things became rather more progressive. With the space race, supersonic air travel, Star Trek and 2001, a Space Odyssey fresh in the minds of an increasingly forward-thinking populace, the future was everything.
For a designer with a volatile imagination, the conventional form of the car went out the window. The Espada was a design largely without precedent, though there had been the other-worldly Marzal concept car and Gandini’s four-seater production GT was clearly influenced by it. This was wheeled science fiction.  Pretty much the car boldy going.
The Espada isn’t timeless like the Muira. It belongs to an era where the furtherance of mankind was at the very forefront of intelligent minds. That the Concorde arrived at a similar time is no coincidence.
As the ’70s got into their stride the increasingly louder voice of youth was murmuring that it simply wasn’t going to be pushed around any more. Revolution was in the air. The stuffy, elitist, bombastic regimes of the past were being challenged by a new order. I reckon this struck a chord with a still young Gandini, fed up with design convention. His next sports car would be an anti-establishment status.
This dissonance among the younger generation began in the early ‘seventies……. The Countach seems visually linked to this movement away from the expansive, refined, elegance of Prog Rock, in favour of the compact, spiky instant thrills of punk.
Especially in a vivid two-fingered salute of a colour like this example. The Countach was disaffected youth, Vivienne Westwood, Sex Pistols and a Spacehopper. It’s a cohort of angry young men shouting in unison. Provocative and outspoken.
The petulant swagger of the Countach continued to rage against the machine for much of the seventies and all of the eighties, its clarion call never falling on deaf ears. For those of a more sensitive disposition, and more interested in hedonistic fun than outright anarchy, there was the Countaches Disco cousin, the Lamborghini Silhouette.
There was still enough visual aggression to deliver a message of strength, but it was underpinned by civility and restraint. The Silhouette came about during a time of great global uncertainty and survived into a period of new-found environmental awareness. Of course, when it turned into the Jalpa the cultivation of afros and the wearing of sequinned tuxedos had gone out and “power-dressing” had come in, and the Jalpa wears some of the most egregious shoulder pads you ever saw.
Of course, there’s one Lamborghini that goes against all this, a car that really doesn’t fit in with any of this historical brainstorming. The Lamborghini Jarama.
Please feel free to make your own story up for this one.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2016)

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  1. Jaap Avatar

    The Jarama is pure brutalism, like in architecture. Think sbout massive 70’s concrete buildings with large and rough concrete detaiiling. Ugly is the new beauty. The mood is somehow similair to that of the Countach’s conception.

  2. CraigSu Avatar

    As long as we’re talking about the 60s let’s not forget about Ursula Andress.–Vo3HXjlOtw/TVQXT9SU30I/AAAAAAAADYk/uaqpFZVHY08/s1600/MademoiselleB_Ursula%2BAndress_2.jpeg

  3. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    The Espada started out a little like the Marzal show car but without the ‘half V12’ rear mounted transverse straight slant six. But the first prototype did keep the huge gullwing doors,(without the lower glazing) before it became clear that they were too much extra complication.The car has now been rescued from Lamborghini’s scrap yard
    Espada prototype
    As left for years.(Uracco prototype behind).