As the 1970s arrived, both Ferrari and Lamborghini were moving away from the sensuous curves of the 1960s models and toward a more angular design language. Two examples of the trend were the Ferrari 365 GTC/4 and the Lamborghini Jarama 2+2 Grand Touring Coupe.
Named for the famous bullfighting region in Spain (although there is a Jarama racing circuit near Madrid), the Jarama was designed by Marcello Gandini of Bertone and rode on a shortened version of the Lamborghini Espada stamped-steel chassis pan, with steel bodywork welded to the pan to complete the unibody structure.
With a wheelbase of just 93 inches, the Jarama was over 10 inches shorter than the larger Espada grand tourer. Like the Espada, though, the Jarama was a two-door design with a small back seat. The Jarama featured flip-up headlights, wheel arch flares, and a trunk lid at the bottom of the fastback rear end.
Model years were never as rigid with Italian automakers as they were in America, so development proceeded organically. Although the Jarama was launched in 1970, it was 1972 before the car really arrived in America and this was a time when Lamborghini was still a pretty small operation. Production of the Jarama 400 GT reached 177 cars from 1970 to 1973. The more powerful Jarama 400 GTS replaced the original Jarama 400 GT in 1973, and 150 GTS models were made through 1978.
The Jarama was powered by Lamborghini’s 3,929 cc quad overhead cam V-12 engine with six twin-throat Weber carburetors. The engine was rated at 350 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. Power output was boosted to 365 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque with the GTS model for 1973. In all cases, the engine was mated to a five-speed manual transmission driving the rear wheels. The Jarama was good for 0-60 in 7.2 second, 0-100 in 18 seconds, and a 15.6-second quarter-mile. Top speed was rated at 162 mph.
The suspension of the Jarama was with unequal-length A-arms front and rear, using coil springs with anti-sway bars. The rear axle was fully independent, and brakes were vented discs at all four corners of the vehicle.
Inside, the Lamborghini Jarama was styled in much the same way as other premium Italian cars of the era, with a padded leather-covered dashboard and console, a wood-rimmed steering wheel and a set of standard gauges. Seat covers were done in the same leather as the console.
Contemporary American reviews stated that the Jarama was a handful to drive, noisy, rough riding, and uncomfortable. Overall, however, the car was still viewed as exciting and exotic. The price certainly reflected that, with a new Jarama in 1972 commanding $23,500 at retail. That was $4,000 less than the competing Ferrari 365, but a Corvette still cost a fraction of that.
All models of the Jarama are quite collectible as early bits of Lamborghini history, and with the rise of collector interest in cars of the 1970s, the Jarama is even more enticing. The sharp design of cars like the Jarama or the Urraco foreshadows the later Countach and Lamborghini models up to the present day, making this 1970s sports-tourer even more relevant and historic.