“The magnificence of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed” (Filippo Tommaso Marinetti). The futurist’s aphorism should not, however, mislead us because the origin of the Lamborghini Urraco was not only due to kinetic needs but, above all, to a mix of factors that matured in a very precise historical moment.
Automobili Lamborghini” was founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini, a skilled entrepreneur, born in Ferrara in 1916, who cut his teeth as a military mechanic in the Second World War. However, the end of the war did not exhaust the young man from Ferrara’s interest in military vehicles: in fact, he bought them to recycle as agricultural vehicles. This is how “Lamborghini Tractors” was born in 1947, a futuristic factory that adopted the bull as its trademark: the animal is not only the sign of the zodiac but also represents his passion for bullfighting.
Not only that, but the bull also embodies the determined character of Ferruccio, who, on the wave of a legendary quarrel with Enzo Ferrari, considered Ferruccio him a “tractor driver”, proudly founded his car factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese in 1963.
His meeting with designer Nuccio Bertone (“I am the one who can make the shoe fit your foot”) and especially with his designer, Marcello Gandini, was the fruitful turning point for exciting new vehicles, such as the Miura, in 1966.
The competition with Maranello, above all as far as technological innovation is concerned, certainly did not stop in the 1960s but reached a very competitive point with the Urraco P250.
The engine, a single-shaft of 2463 cm³, is a classic 8-cylinder V, centrally located, with 220 HP available that allow a speed of 245 km/h. Powered by four twin-body Weber carburettors, it adopted an innovative “Heron chamber” cylinder head, a solution that made it possible to achieve a higher compression ratio without increasing costs too much, thanks to the combustion chamber created in the piston.
The innovative engine deserves a suitable dress sewn ad hoc by Gandini, who makes adjustments with the designer Paolo Stanzani. This is why the version available for sale will be ready two years after its presentation at the 1970 Turin Motor Show.
As a fine interpreter of its time, the Urraco had to come to terms with the reality of the early Seventies, a period when Italy was suffering from “stagflation”, an economic phase characterized by job stagnation combined with high rates of inflation. Anticipating the austerity imposed later by the governments of the time, it was designed to accommodate up to 4 people, moving away from the previous two-seater sports cars. However, the central engine forced the designer to move the cockpit forward with some problems both for accessibility and seating. The solution is the right compromise among the various requirements, also realized thanks to the disappearance of the steering column that, however, doesn’t deprive the steering wheel with goblet structure of its charm.
Again, in view of the economy, the use of McPherson suspensions both at the front and, above all, at the rear, a solution never applied till now to a car of this class. The line, commonly defined as “wedge-shaped”, is characterized by a low and sharp frontal side and by a tapered “fastback” tail equipped with a matt black “Venetian Blind” air intake above the engine compartment and the side pillars. As if to compensate for the quest for the economy, accessories such as air-conditioning, electric windows and fog lamps complete the car by becoming standard.
In order to be even more competitive with respect to similar high-end cars, the P250 was joined in the production by the P300, the top of the range of the Urraco model, which, equipped with a 2996 cc V8 with dual camshaft timing system and four valves per cylinder, was able to generate 265 hp, thanks to which performance improved considerably. The Urraco range was enriched, during the production years, with the P200, distributed exclusively in Italy for tax reasons, the P111, responding to the ecological needs of the USA and the little gem called “Urraco Silhouette”. This last version is produced in only 53 units and represents the latest evolution of the Urraco family. The Italian economic situation, as already mentioned, had severely penalized the sportiness of the Urraco, and with the Silhouette, while retaining the P300 engine, an attempt was made to recover that coquettish appearance that distinguished the more “pushed” cars. The restyling of the line transformed the Urraco into a “Targa”, a coupé with a removable plastic roof, supported by the windscreen and a sturdy roll-bar, obtained from the self-supporting bodywork, in which the rear window was positioned.
The transformation did not stop there, extending to adopting a front spoiler combined with a black resin bumper covering the radiator and the air intake for the front brakes. However, any self-respecting innovation cannot fail to recapture the old. With a magic touch from the designer, the Silhouette became a two-seater again, much to the chagrin of the Italian family. And so it is that the famous car returns to represent that competitive fury that distinguishes the typical breed of Spanish bulls: the “Urraco“.
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Article edit by Roberto Castellucci