Front-engined Lamborghini Grand Touring Series (Part V)

Front-engined Lamborghini Grand Touring Series (Part V)


Lamborghini proved it could make a luxury touring car that few people were willing to buy instead of a Ferrari with its first production car, the 350GT. Based on the 350GTV prototype that could not be driven, the 350GT eventually matured into the same 400GT we showed last time.

When it debuted, the 400GT was just a 350GT with a bigger engine, as the planned roof modification to turn the 2+1 into a 2+2 wasn’t ready for production. Lamborghini announced the 350, 400 and 400 2+2 as three different models, an interesting fact. But after three variations of the original 350 design, it was time for something new. The replacement process was not without drama.

Since the 400GT was at the end of its short production run, Ferruccio looked for a replacement. The new car would be in the same front-engined V12 market segment as its predecessor and would act as a good counterweight to the mid-engined Miura. Lamborghini thought Carrozzeria Touring should get the design job because they did such a great job of turning the 350GTZ’s static display into a working car. The Superleggera’s patented Touring construction method was important to Lamborghini because it minimizes the enemy of performance competition: weight reduction.

Lamborghini contacted Touring for a new design in 1966. Touring was only too happy to oblige, as the company was in dire financial straits. To save development time and costs, their new concept was based on the company’s current 400GT, which Touring simply stripped of its inner workings.

Lamborghini asked for something new, and Touring took the order very much seriously. So serious that they ditched the coupe body style in favor of a badass bullet brake. The body shape had sharp curves and was angular in the early 70s. Visual weight was in the center and rear of the new car, as the short bonnet placed the engine further back in the chassis.

The more delicate hood was reduced by the smooth edges, which had a solid front edge and an additional layer of letters that resulted in a kind of dim lamp covered with a trapezoid. Underneath it was a smiling, bare grille adorned only by a thin strip of chrome from the bumper.

The side of the new shooting brake had only a few details, such as the moldings on the edges near the quick A-pillar and the beams around the wheel well that formed the lower rocker panel. The thick B-pillar just after the door was also decorated with gills and appeared to separate the passenger space from the large cargo area.

From there, the roof sloped down and met the side letter line to form the lower edge of the rear gate. The hatch itself had two visible hinges on the roof and was narrow overall as it did not include the rear clip that held the brake lights and bumper.

The hatch and rear were largely unadorned, as a pair of rectangular (approximate British) headlamps provided the necessary illumination. A thin, wide fender mirrored the front and hung over four large rear tubes.

The interior of the concept was a departure from the production 400GT. He simplified the gauge to two large numbers in front of the driver and moved the switch in the shell near the shifter easily. The 400GT’s switches were arranged in the center console next to the dash.

Bold bodywork and interior aside, the Touring model remained 400GT below. It shared the engine, transmission, suspension and suspension of the 2+2. The wheelbase was also the same at 100.4 inches. The bullet brake reduced the passenger and hood area on the 400GT, ending up nearly four inches shorter, at 172.4″.

It was also slightly narrower at 67.7 inches by 68″ in the 400GT. With its faster profile, it was also lower and, at 47.2 inches, it was more than two inches shorter than the 400. Body design changes also reduced weight, as the 400’s 3,245 pounds was reduced to just 2,866 inches. . the concept of tourism. It should be noted that this was a fully functional car.

Another reason the new Touring was lighter was its passenger capacity. Although the request was for a new grand tourer, the sedan reduced to a 2+2 configuration and was a two-seater. Touring gave their new concept a name steeped in history: the Flying Star II. It was a throwback to the company’s roadster designs of the 1930s, all of which were designed by Giuseppe Seregni and used on a bare Alfa Romeo chassis by Isotta Fraschini.

Perhaps the designers of the Touring were inspired by the bold Bertone-designed Miura and wanted to give Lamborghini another fun design for its lineup. But that was not what Ferruccio was looking for in his 400GT replacement and the design was rejected out of hand, and immediately. It became the last Touring model, as the company that built the Alfa Romeo 2600 and Aston Martin’s DB4, DB5 and DB6 went bankrupt that same year. The brand remained inactive from 1966 until it was revived in 2006 and remains active today.

Since the first version of the 400GT was banned, Lamborghini looked to the Neri & Bonacini design. The body builder built a prototype 350GTV and then built the 350GT tubular frames on which the Touring body panels were used. As they knew the chassis of the 350GT, they chose it as the basis for their own design.

This was once referred to at the end of our last entry, and it has a somewhat muddy history. While one source says the car was given to an American customer who wanted to run it in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, another says it was Lamborghini who requested the design as a replacement for the 400GT. In any case, the small company spent a lot of time designing the two seats and building its all-aluminum body by hand into their bodies.

The Neri & Bonacini design was very different from the 400GT and opted for a Ferrari-like approach. The wide fenders featured a long hood, which ended in a thin, wedge-shaped tip and large circular taillights. The only bumper was a chrome marker on each corner.

A two-seater coupe, it had a softer character line than the Touring model and focused on the natural organic curves that were safely planted in the mid-60s. The B-pillar leaned forward and covered the starting point of the C-pillar, which had buttock on each side. Noted for its intended use, there was a roll bar built into the thick C-pillar. Between the buttocks was a large rear window that allowed for a generous parcel shelf.

The result of the design of the rear pillar was a small trunk lid, which was only as wide as the rear window. Rounded buttresses and curved slats met around the nearly vertical rear end that was framed by a sharp cleft around its perimeter. The bumpers were again in two pieces and fasten to the rear fender towards the rear tire.

Although it was on a 350GT chassis, a rebuild took place in 1966 and the 3.9 liter V8 from the 400 was available. A larger engine was used to give the racing model better performance. Neri & Bonacini first called their car the 400GT Neri & Bonacini, but as it didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, it was renamed the 400GT Monza.

An American customer who wanted to race the Monza at Le Mans never had the car delivered: Apparently there were problems with its race fit. After losing its sponsor, the car was shown at the Barcelona Motor Show in 1967. Perhaps it was at this time that Neri & Bonacini Free Lamborghini design as an afterthought, rather than a direct request from Ferruccio himself.

However, Lamborghini did not like the Monza and the design was rejected. And just like the Touring, their take on Lamborghini will be the company’s last. Without much work or contract (Lamborghini was traded to another dealer for the frame and 400GT), the founders of the company went their own way. In 1967 Bonacini left to work for De Tomaso and Neri opened a small shop called Motors-World-Machines.

After two rejected designs, Lamborghini felt it would be more efficient to bring in an outside designer and have them work directly with the in-house staff on the group project. It was a project that would be modified and ground into version 2.0, and this became Islero. We will come to next time.

[Images: Lamborghini, YouTube]

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