The Lamborghini Jalpa was developed by Lamborghini as a successor to the earlier Urraco. The Jalpa offered a lower-priced alternative to the Countach, and it was aimed squarely at the Porsche 911 and the Ferrari 308.

Just 410 examples of the Lamborghini Jalpa were made, a figure dwarfed by the almost 2,000 examples of the Countach that were produced. Today, the Jalpa has been largely forgotten, but it offers a unique ownership experience punctuated by the unmistakable burble of its Lamborghini-developed V8.

Fast Facts – The Lamborghini Jalpa

  • The Lamborghini Jalpa was developed as a more affordable and accessible alternative to Lamborghini’s flagship model, the Countach. Introduced in 1981, it was named after a famous breed of fighting bulls, continuing Lamborghini’s long-running naming tradition. The Jalpa was intended to compete with the lower-tier Ferrari models and the Porsche 911.
  • Designed by Giulio Alfieri and Marc Deschamps at Bertone, the Jalpa featured the sharp, angular lines popular during the era. It had a targa top, and it was powered by a 3.5 liter V8, making it the last V8 Lamborghini until the release of the Urus SUV in 2018.
  • The Jalpa’s V8 delivered approximately 255 bhp at 7,000 rpm, which gave it a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.8 seconds – respectable for the time. It had a top speed of 155 mph and it was said to be far more user-friendly as a daily driver than the Countach.
  • During its production run from 1981 to 1988, the Jalpa was somewhat successful in terms of sales, with approximately 410 produced. This made it one of the higher production vehicles for Lamborghini at the time, though it didn’t achieve the widespread popularity of its competitors like the Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS and the later 328 GTB/GTS.

Lamborghini’s Porsche 911 Killer

Today the Lamborghini Jalpa is a car often greeted with confused looks and a multitude of questions. It looks kind of like an 80s Countach but it isn’t, though it does have those Lamborghini badges front and back. Some owners will tell you stories of meeting people convinced that it’s a replica, perhaps based on a Fiero or a Beetle, and others have had to patiently correct people calling it a Ferrari.

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Image DescriptionThe styling of the Lamborghini Jalpa was done at Bertone, it has a resemblance to the Countach in passing, but the two cars are completely different.

The truth of the matter is that the Jalpa should really be far better known than it is, and if it wasn’t for the existence of the Lamborghini Countach, it would likely be remembered as one of the most memorable Italian sports cars of the 1980s, thanks to its Bertone styling, stiff monocoque chassis, and riotous DOHC alloy V8.

The Jalpa was a direct descendant of the earlier Lamborghini Silhouette, which itself was the successor to the Lamborghini Urraco. All three were powered by variations of the same family of Lamborghini V8s, all were designed at Bertone, and all designed to supplement the automaker’s halo car – the Countach.

Lamborghini debuted the Jalpa at the 1981 Geneva Motor Show next to the Lamborghini LM001 off-road vehicle concept car. It was perhaps a little unfair on the Jalpa, as the LM001 would steal the show, and go on to eventually be released in production form as the LM002 “Rambo Lambo.”

Compared to its V12 4×4 stablemate, the Jalpa must have seemed downright sensible. It offered much better visibility and daily-drivability than the Countach, it was powered by the tried-and-tested Lamborghini V8, and its sticker price was considerably lower than either the LM002 or the Countach.

The Jalpa featured a steel unibody-type chassis, independent front and rear suspension, four wheel disc brakes, a mid-mounted alloy V8, a 5-speed manual transmission with a gated shifter, and a targa-style removable roof panel.

That V8 engine is a double overhead cam with two valves per cylinder, an alloy block and heads, and four twin-barrel down-draught Weber 42 DCNF carburetors. It produces 255 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 225 lb ft of torque at 4,000 rpm in European specification, with slightly less in US spec.

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Image DescriptionPower is provided by a 3.5 liter alloy V8 producing 255 bhp at 7,000 rpm and 225 lb ft of torque at 4,000 rpm in European specification.

The car went on sale in 1981 and enjoyed largely positive reviews from the automotive media of the time, who heralded it as a new Lamborghini sports car for a new decade.

Production ran from 1981 until 1988 with 410 examples produced. Sales were lower than the Countach, which sold over four times as many units, though admittedly this was over a longer production run.

Interestingly, the Jalpa would be the last production Lamborghini V8 until the debut of the Lamborghini Urus in 2018 – the super SUV that some have called a descendant of the LM002 that sat alongside the Jalpa on the Lamborghini stand at the Geneva Motor Show all those years ago.

In some respects the fact that the Jalpa lived in the shadow of the shadow of the Countach did it no favors, but it was specifically created to not compete with the Countach. It was designed to compete with the likes of the Porsche 911 and the Ferrari 308, and these are the cars it should be compared with today when determining its place in the pecking order.

The 1984 Lamborghini Jalpa Shown Here

The car you see in this article is a 1984 Lamborghini Jalpa finished in Rosso Siviglia over a Black interior, arguably the best color combination for the model.

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Image DescriptionDue to the fact that the Jalpa has a monocoque chassis rather than the spaceframe used on the Countach, it has more interior room, and better visibility out of the cabin. This is particularly noticeable when reversing, which is a simple job in the Jalpa, but a major undertaking in the Countach.

This Jalpa comes with factory air-conditioning, an Alpine stereo, the correct Ruote Z alloy wheels, and it’s showing 29,973 kms at the time of cataloguing, the equivalent to approximately 18,624 miles.

The car is now due to roll across the auction block with Mecum on the 18th of May. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images courtesy of Mecum

Published by Ben Branch -