In 2022 Lamborghini is celebrating its legendary V12 engine, which for almost 60 years has powered its most iconic models, including the Espada 400 GT, the brand’s first four-seater car. In its final evolution, the V12 will go out of production with the last Aventador Ultimae by the end of 2022, and starting next year, the heir to the Aventador will sport a new V12 plug-in hybrid engine.
The fastest, most luxurious and comfortable GT
The Espada 400 GT, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1968, fulfilled Ferruccio Lamborghini’s desire to produce the best GT in existence, a sports car that was fast while still being comfortable and luxuriously appointed. The Espada featured a cabin that could comfortably accommodate four adults, high-end finishes, with an abundance of leather and premium materials.
The V12 engine increased to 4 liters
The technical basis of the Espada was the 60-degree V12 engine introduced in 1963 with a capacity of 3.5 liters, which was increased to 4 liters in 1964. Capable of delivering 325 HP at 7200 rpm, the 4-liter V12 had a reduced weight, 232 kg, thanks to the extensive use of aluminum for the cylinder head, crankshaft and pistons. It was front-mounted, slightly forward to improve roominess, and was easily accessible thanks to the large opening of the aluminum hood.
The Espada’s commercial success
At the time of its launch, the Espada was the fastest 4-seater car in the world. Characterized by a squared-off and extremely innovative silhouette styled by Carrozzeria Bertone, it proved to be a lasting commercial success. 1226 units were produced, divided into three series: Espada 400 GT Series 1 from 1968 to 1969 in 176 units, Espada 400 GTE Series II from 1970 to 1972 in 578 units, and Espada 400 GTS Series III from 1972 to 1978 in 472 units.
The Espada VIP with mini-bar and Brionvega television
Based on the Espada 400 GTE Series II, the Espada VIP was presented in 1971, a special series of only 12 examples that featured a mini-bar, refrigerator and a Brionvega Algol 11 television mounted on the center console for entertaining the rear seat occupants. The VIP is currently one of the most sought-after versions by Espada collectors.
The Espada among VIPs and in the movies
There have been, and still are, many celebrities who have declared their love for the Espada, including Jay Leno, the famous American TV entertainer, Harry Metcalfe, founder of EVO magazine, and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who sold his 1972 Espada Series III after his then-wife Linda forgot to engage the handbrake and the car rolled into a pond and sank.
Of the more than fifty films that have featured an Espada, the most famous is the 1973 Italian movie Piedone lo sbirro (Flatfoot) starring Bud Spencer, filmed mainly in and around Naples, where a long chase scene ends in front of the church of Sant’Antonio in Posillipo after the Espada has driven the wrong way up the hairpin “13 descents of Sant’Antonio”.