A Lamborghini Islero And Espada Illustrate The Philosophy Of Curated Car Collecting
Photography by Roman Raetzke
Every collector of rare things—whether that be stamps or vintage sports cars—will have his or her unique reasons for doing so, and I think it is often the case that it is hard for these people to pinpoint the genesis. Typically it is an evolution with nebulous or otherwise plainly forgotten origins, but I know well the moment it began for me.
Almost two decades ago, in 1998, one of my best friends began paring down his collection of notable automobiles. I watched as he sold approximately 40 cars, until he got to the last one: a Ferrari 365 GT 2+2, the “Queen Mary.” It wore a wonderful shade of metallic light green, and being smitten with both car and color, I asked him whether I could be its next owner. He agreed, and I owned my first Ferrari. This is how I began my own collection of Ferraris in the late ‘90s, and soon after the 365 I found a dark blue 330 GTS, a metallic blue 330 GTC, and a red 275 GTB/2. This was when these cars were still affordable, and I mined plenty of enjoyment out of this group. Then, in the mid-2000s along came a dark blue Lusso in the same shade as my GTS. I sold everything else, as owning these two matching cars was more than enough. It was at this point that I would center my collecting around colors.
I thoroughly loved the Lusso and GTS, and indeed bought and sold many other cars during the time I owned the pair. At some point though the mind wants change, and soon after this idea manifests so too does reality. I had always been fascinated by the Lamborghini Miura, and growing up in Europe in the ‘70s, there were images and posters and magazine covers with the car seemingly everywhere, but my interest in the car really began when my dad bought me a miniature Corgi version of a yellow one. I kept that toy car of course, and I eventually put it in the center console of my first full-size Miura: an orange S model that I purchased at Techno Classica in 2006.
I bought that car after deciding to collect around color, and orange was my ideal color for the Miura; I was so proud to own my childhood dream car, and in my favorite hue no less! I had grown a bit since my hand clutched that Corgi though, and at 6’ 2” I think you can guess at how I had to fold myself into the driver’s seat of the real thing; I could barely get in and out of it, but that didn’t quell my happiness at all. It was a spectacular car, despite the persuasion otherwise from the occasional leg cramp. That was until the engine broke on one of my early test drives, after purchase, but of course.
It took my preferred workshop two years to rebuild it, and despite them being a former Ferrari dealer I do not think it was any lingering competitive spite for the rival Italian supercar that made it such a long process. That was a joke, just to clarify. Anyway, it turned out that the issue was a cracked engine block—terrific! The rest of the motor suffered its own maladies because of this, and when it was finally all back together again I really got to experience the potential of the Miura. It was likely even better than it was brand new due to the understanding we’ve gained in the decades since, and most of the early issues had been resolved. This was an optimized iteration in a sense, but still, you can’t take away the soul of the early supercar; it was noisy, hot, and tiring to operate, often requiring a shower following a “spirited drive.” I eventually sold it in 2011.
Somewhat frustrated with the experience of owning it overall, I put the money from the Miura into its biggest rival at the time, the Ferrari Daytona. I still loved Lamborghinis though, as they possess a level of drama and absurdity that Ferrari could never. Back when they began production, many were into Ferraris and dismissed the early Lamborghinis as just another Italian car brand that would prove to be a flash in the pan. Even after they’d been around for a while, a surprising number of similar people still snubbed them for not having the history of Ferrari, as if that somehow made them bad cars.
In 2009, when the world was reeling from the financial crisis, I saw an opportunity to purchase some special cars at what I believed was a discount that would likely not come around again soon. So, I bought a red Islero S, and a very original silver-grey 400 GT 2+2 that nobody was interested in at the time; I still clearly remember sitting on a terrace in Spain in 100 degree weather buying these cars over the telephone without having seen them in person, pacing, anxious and excited. I likely won’t forget that moment!
The red Islero didn’t hold what the beautiful exterior suggested, and it made more sense to me to sell it than invest in restoring it. The 400 on the other hand I did restore, and I think that was worthwhile as it was, and is, a very unique car, even amongst the marque’s wildness. Apart from its unique looks, it came with a brown interior encased in the monochromatic metal outside which I felt was a striking combination.
After some time I really began longing for an Islero again though, as I had regretted selling that car more and more since the day that I did. So in 2012, I bought Islero #6492 in Paris. It was immaculately restored by Orazio Salvioli, the former technical director of Lamborghini, which just made it all the better! But again, the color was simply spectacular to my eyes, and having never seen it before I was captivated, to put it lightly. Isleros were still inexpensive at the time, and ownership was mostly restricted to a small group of admirers; I might not call it a cult car, but it’s not not one either. Having purchased it, I of course shared the news with some friends and other collectors, receiving mixed responses from both. No one really warmed up to its shape or essence, but just about everyone agreed with my admiration for its color.
Three years later, scrolling through various dealer sites as I am wont to do probably too often, I came across this green Espada S3, #9366, located in Brussels at a dealer known for being a Ferrari specialist. Recalling my blue Ferraris, I immediately fell in love with the idea of having this car next to the green (Verde Palido Metallizzato) Islero. While the Isleros were relatively cheap, Espadas had appreciated a decent amount by 2015, and I had to pay one of the model’s highest modern prices to achieve my green symmetry. But, it was totally original and never restored, still looking fresh and new from having just two owners and all of its original documentation. This was a “must have” for more than one reason then I figured, so I bought the Espada after having looked at roughly a dozen tired examples of the model previously (few people had invested anything in these cars when they were cheap, and so the neglected motors could easily cost as much as the purchase price of these lesser examples).
Having gone through quite a few Italian sports and supercars over the past two decades then, one may take the boring response and say “I’ve loved them all in their own way,” but no, these two green Lamborghinis are the highlight for me. Driving them through the northern European countryside is a blissful exercise for me, and I try to make it happen as often as I can. I love their style, their juxtapositions and similarities, and though its strange to say about old Italian cars, their drivability—I have two children (nine and six years old), and they’ve both declared the Espada as their all time favorite car because of all the visibility provided by the glass and the comfortable molded rear bucket seats, and I’m inclined to agree with them.
Hopefully the next car will be a Miura in this same green; I saw one such car at the Polo Storico stand in Essen, Germany this summer, so I know it’s at least not an impossibility to acquire one of my own someday. It was an SV too, making the temptation all the greater!