Love for ’70s Italians Peaks with a RHD Lamborghini Urraco P250
Owner: Lee Griffiths
Location: Manchester, England
Year, Make, and Model: 1974 Lamborghini Urraco P250
Photographer: Riad Ariane
While growing up in an engineering family, Lee Griffiths fixed and modified anything he could get his hands on, was inseparable from his Matchbox Toy Alfa Carabo. As a ’70s kid, he grew up among posters of wedge-shaped supercars but was particularly attracted to the Italian offerings such as the Countach LP400 and Lancia Stratos, Marcello Gandini designs. It seems he was destined for a life that involved a serious of quirky Italian automobiles—this culminated with one of the most unusual and prettiest of retro supercars, the Lamborghini Urraco.
Lee didn’t go straight for Lamborghinis—he started with Fiats. At 17, when his friends were buying Ford Fiestas and Vauxhall Chevettes, they thought Lee was mad when he decided to buy a Fiat X1/9. It was very rusty, but it ran well and was a great Italian car for Lee to cut his teeth on. Within a year he had another mint early example followed by a series of other Fiats from the ’70s. He became used to rust and the idiosyncrasies of Italian cars and continued loyal to the country for the next 15 years with other various Italian cars, including a Ferrari 308 GT4, which he sold five years later (a decision he’s never quite gotten over).
Early in 2013, Lee moved another car of his on to a new owner, which released some money to buy something interesting—perhaps as an investment. In the back of his mind, he was thinking about another GT4, when a listing for a right-hand drive Lamborghini Urraco popped up online (right-hand drive Urraco P250s are very rare, since there were allegedly under 100 made. Precise records are difficult to get hold of from the factory.).
“I had only seen one Lamborghini Urraco before in the flesh. It was many years earlier, and I considered it out of my reach on shear looks and exoticness—Surely I could never own something like this. Perhaps it was outside my comfort zone in terms of quirky Italian engineering, so I put thoughts of the Urraco to the side,” Lee recounted to us.
He continued looking for a GT4, but each one he saw turned out to be a horror story in one way or another. After traveling all over the UK looking at GT4s, he finally gave up. When he noticed another Urraco for sale, this one a left-hand drive version, Lee was reminded just how interesting and rare the right-hand drive model he’d seen had been. He knew that he didn’t want to let the opportunity go, so he contacted the owner to see if it was still for sale, and when it was finally warm enough for some good weather, Lee drove the 150 miles to Witney, a small town near Oxford, to see the Urraco.
Lee detailed for us his inspection of the car. “I knew after a couple of minutes that this was the one. It was well presented and clearly well looked after. I donned my overalls and crawled underneath to take a look. The car was very good—not perfect, but amazing for an Italian car that had spent most of it’s life in the UK after being imported from the Far East in the late ’80s. After pumping the throttle several times to prime the inlets, we started it up and it fired on all eight, quickly stabilizing to a smooth (but growling) idle with the four twin Weber carburetors supplying lots of fuel. We shook hands on a deal and agreed a future date to collect.”
When Lee picked up the car in February to drive it home, the car performed well, despite Lee’s tools and bottled water that served as precautions in case the coolant system decided to leak. He speculates that he was likely the only Lamborghini Urraco on the road in the UK that day, and he noticed quite a few faces smiling at him and his new car on the serendipitously sunny journey north. He has since investigated every corner of the car and continues to like what he sees (but he still added extra rust proofing with Waxoyl, just in case).
Lee has many kind words to say about his Urraco. “You feel like you hear every mechanical movement of the engine; you can hear the air racing through the carbs. The brakes are rubbish, but the steering is strangely light. Gear changes are precise but firm—you need a strong left forearm and you need to be a little patient with the synchromesh when the box is cold. The engine sounds very unusual, rather like the shrill of the flat-four Suburu but with eight cylinders—I’ve never heard anything like it. The car is best after properly warming up with the difference in behaviour quite noticeable, but I am still cautious. The Urrcao P250 was famous for shredding the single cam belt due to poor maintenance, and I was gentle with the car on the 150-mile journey home across the Cotswolds and up the M5 and M6 motorways. Lamborghini changed to chain driven cams for the P300 model a few years later.”
“The design is very simple and very practical—better than the Ferrari 308 GT4, I think.”
“Owning a 70’s supercar is a delight, but don’t expect trouble-free motoring—you need to have either deep pockets or be happy to maintain this type of car regularly. You will know when you
have driven it, because you will smell of fuel and exhaust fumes, and it leaves you tired unless you drive in a straight line. My Urraco is a serious piece of history and I will look after it well—the car deserves it.”
Lee tells us that he is currently working on some major detailing of the Urraco chassis #15662, with attention being paid to all four corners under the arches and some bodywork up at the front. He hopes that this work will be complete by the end of January 2014 and ready for the Great British classic car show season of 2014.
“I’m not a serious driver, I’m an engineer and enjoy the challenge of keeping the original baby Lambo alive,” Lee concludes.
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