The point that led to our dream car and company: Lamborghini 350 GTV
A little insight and Lesson for the Lamborghini 350 GTV
Imagine going to an international car show and being surprised to see a car made by John Deere, a company known for tractors. This car isn’t just any car – it’s a super-fast and bizarre grand tourer, competing with the top names in GT car manufacturing. This experience would give you a glimpse into what it felt like to be at the 1963 Turin Auto Show.
At that show, Lamborghini, a company previously famous for making tractors, revealed the 350GTV prototype. This prototype paved the way for producing the 350GT, which became Lamborghini’s first car for the public.
In 1958, Ferruccio Lamborghini bought a Ferrari 250GT, the first of three he would own. He enjoyed the car but noticed it lacked interior comforts and had issues with the clutch wearing out too fast, requiring frequent trips to Maranello for replacements. Lamborghini attempted to address these concerns with Ferrari, but being famously proud, Ferrari ignored the criticism. So, Lamborghini decided to create his own GT car.
Competition for the new prototype in the market
Ferruccio Lamborghini drew inspiration from an earlier version of the Ferrari 250, but the 250 GT Lusso, introduced in 1963, closely resembled Lamborghini’s vision for GT cars. The term “Lusso,” meaning “luxury” in Italian, perfectly encapsulated these models, featuring exquisite interiors and comfortable suspension, traits shared with Lamborghini’s future GT offerings. Despite reaching the market before Lamborghini’s 350GT, the Lusso didn’t hinder the latter’s success.
On a parallel note, Maserati’s 3500 GT, though only slightly cheaper than the 350GT upon its 1964 debut, outsold Lamborghini significantly, with over 2,000 units sold compared to Lamborghini’s 120 grand tourers. Maserati‘s success transformed the company from a minor player to a major contender in the high-end Italian GT car market. The 3500 GT distinguished itself with a six-cylinder engine, contrasting the 12-cylinder competition, yet offering similar displacement to Lamborghini. This configuration resulted in less horsepower but more torque, making it exceptionally drivable for everyday use, contributing to its widespread popularity.
It had bricks in the hood?
From a technical standpoint, the 350GTV didn’t have an engine, at least not during the Turin show. They realized the machine didn’t fit under the bodywork only after the car was assembled. With no time to make the necessary changes, the car debuted with bricks under the hood, keeping it shut throughout the show. However, there was a remarkable engine designed for the vehicle. The engineering was led by Giotto Bizzarrini, the same individual who had worked on the machine for the Ferrari 250 GTO, showcasing his impressive skills once again.
By 1963, Bizzarrini, not a fan of Enzo Ferrari either, was a sensible choice for the job. He designed an impressive engine: an all-aluminum alloy, quad-cam V-12 with a 3.5-liter displacement, generating 342 horsepower and 250 pounds-feet of torque. However, the drawback was that it reached its peak horsepower at 8,000rpm. Lamborghini eventually concluded that such a high-revving engine didn’t align with the concept of a more refined GT car, leading to its detuning for the production model.
An aesthetic view to look at
Giorgio Prevedi of Carrozzeria Sargiotto crafted the 350GTV’s design. It received widespread acclaim and is still regarded as one of the finest examples of mid-century modern design in the automotive realm. The car’s rear end is especially intriguing, resembling a fastback yet featuring a distinct trunk lid. Although toned down significantly in the production model, this unique feature added to the car’s distinctive appeal
The 350GTV featured an incredibly sleek and streamlined shape, highlighted by a low hood housing one of the best pop-up headlight designs ever created. Unfortunately, these distinctive headlights didn’t make it to the prototype. While the production version took hints from the prototype, which is noticeable, many enthusiasts regretted that the production design wasn’t as daring. A different firm designed the production version.
A retro yet posh interior
The interior of the 350GTV was a key focus and one of the main reasons for the car’s creation. It highlighted the distinction between a sports car and a grand tourer (GT). Unlike a sports car, which is solely designed for speed, a GT car must balance speed with providing a comfortable environment for extended journeys – essentially, a grand tour.
Indeed, the 350GTV boasts a luxurious interior, featuring leather-upholstered seats and a padded leather dashboard. The center stack is prominent, adorned with a few lights and switches, and topped with a gauge pod. A wooden steering wheel and shift knob add a touch of elegance, complemented by chrome trim accents throughout the interior. Surprisingly, the car even includes door armrests, which might seem like a primary feature for a luxury interior but is not always appreciated by every manufacturer.
There was only one ever made
Determining the exact value of the 350GTV is challenging due to its uniqueness and the absence of recent sales data. The car hasn’t changed owners in a decade, and the last recorded sale in 2005 was at $315,000, lower than the average price of the 350GT production models. Given the rising costs in the market, it’s plausible that if the 350GTV were to be auctioned again, it could fetch around $1 million, especially considering some 350GT models have sold for over $800,000 recently.
That’s Lamborghini for you
Falling for the charm of prototypes or concepts can be risky. Actual cars usually involve compromises in both design and performance. Even ideas that make it to production often undergo significant changes. The 350GTV exemplifies this reality. While the 350GT was impressive, it didn’t fully capture the prototype’s original vision before additional input altered it. Nonetheless, the prototype serves as a reminder, inspiring us to hope for even better cars in the future.