Lamborghini is celebrating 40 years of the Jalpa which was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1981. In keeping with established Lamborghini tradition, the Jalpa was named after a breed of fighting bulls, the Jalpa Kandachia.
The Jalpa was the Sant’Agata Bolognese based carmaker’s last evolution of the grand touring V8 powered mid-engine sedan concept and it was also the final development of the Urraco and Silhouette model line. While it retained the same general architecture of its predecessors, the Jalpa was equipped with a larger V8 engine, which was increased in capacity to 3.5 liters.
The wedge shape with the Targa opening roof was designed by Frenchman Marc Deschamps of Carrozzeria Bertone. The Jalpa was also directly influenced and partially designed by Giulio Alfieri, who was General Manager and Technical Director of Lamborghini at the time.
The most significant technical innovation on the Jalpa was the final evolution of the 90° V8 engine. Made completely of aluminum, it had four chain-controlled overhead camshafts, which was originally installed on the Urraco and Silhouette.
Thanks to the increased bore, the 3.5-liter displacement (3485 cc), powered by 4 Weber 42 DCNF twin carburetors, and a compression ratio of 9.2:1, the V8 delivered a maximum power of 255 HP at 7000 rpm and a maximum torque of 32 kgm at 3500 rpm, enabling the Jalpa to reach a top speed of 248 km/h (155 mph).
The Jalpa prototype was presented to the public in Geneva and has a rather special story. The prototype was based on a Silhouette which, once produced, was never sold. It went back to the factory and was used as the basis for the development of the new model. The Jalpa shown in Geneva in 1981 is easily recognizable by its special metallic bronze color and has some unique aesthetic features that were not used on the production car.
The Lamborghini Jalpa, which went in to production in 1982, has a semi-supporting steel body, and black bumpers and engine air intakes, as well as horizontal rear lamps and 16” alloy wheels, taken directly from the Athon prototype, with Pirelli P7 low-profile tires.
The interior of the Jalpa was luxuriously finished, with the extensive use of leather and carpeting. The signature Targa roof, designed to facilitate removal and reassembly, is stored in a special space behind the rear seats and allowed occupants the benefits of a convertible.
In the numerous road tests that appeared in specialist magazines at the time, experts enthusiastically described its straightforward, engaging, and uncompromising road handling.
At the 1984 Geneva Motor Show, the “second series” Jalpa was presented, featuring some aesthetic modifications, such as the bumpers and air intakes in the same color as the bodywork, rounded rear lamps, and revamped interior. Production of the Jalpa ended in 1988 with a total 420 cars built over a six year period.
It was the last Lamborghini sedan produced with a V8 engine and historically it is the last sports car of this class to feature this particular engine displacement and positioning. Conceptually, the Jalpa is the direct predecessor of the 2003 Gallardo, which was to become one of the most successful Lamborghini cars in history.