Channeling The Ultimate ’70s European Road Trip In My Lamborghini Urraco P250
Story by Martin Kerzendorf
Photography by Martin Kerzendorf and Monica di Paoli
After the first time I saw the car’s form, I’ve wanted a Urraco. That first sighting happened to be in a video, so I was also treated to its sound. The “Little Bull” has held my attention ever since, with the unique Gandini/Bertone design a perfect embodiment of the new wave of Italian styling that emerged in the 1970s. I knew that if I were to ever make one my own, it’d have to be one of the early cars with their slim chrome bumpers and cleaner, unadorned body without the later additions of extraneous wings and arches. So with the seed planted and the target set, I started my search for the right Urraco.
In the beginning there were a few that seemed like decent candidates, but they all had their little issues and none of them were the “right” car. Waiting was starting to present a problem of its own though: every few months I’d notice that the prices were increasing. Finally though, I found the car you see here. It was owned by a man named Roberto, and I came across it for sale in Rimini, Italy in 2014. In keeping with the trend, this car, the last I looked at, was the most expensive of the Urracos I’d considered. This was no problem though, because along with being the priciest, this P250 2.5L example was also in the best condition and spec.
Eager to see the car, I booked a flight to Italy from Germany and then took a brief train ride into Rimini where I found Roberto waiting for me in front of the station, as promised. Also as promised was the condition of the Urraco. It was pristine, and I knew immediately that if I didn’t purchase this one I wasn’t likely to find another in such condition for the money. Roberto and I hit it off right away, and we talked at length about the car and others during the course of the test drive and the following dinner. After eating and sharing some family stories we decided to reconvene in the morning after spending some time to think. I called my wife and some friends, went to sleep, and came up with my number the next day. Roberto offered a discount from his list, I tried for a bigger one, he countered, and this went on for some time. At some point in our negotiations he said “OK, but you have to bring me a box of Bavarian weissbier when you come to pick it up.” More than happy with that arrangement, I shook his hand, already thinking ahead to when I’d be able to pick up the car in two weeks’ time.
Some days laster I saw the Petrolicious film on the Urraco, “Traumatic Bonding,” and knew that I’d made the right decision to seek out the little Lamborghini. When the day finally arrived to pick up the car as its new owner, the Italian country was lit with bright sun and I was beaming equally brightly. I drove along with my friend Ronny, and after having another dinner with Roberto, we took him for his last ride in the car before we packed it up on the trailer and settled up with the outstanding piece of the payment: the beer. I knew Roberto and I would be friends beyond this transaction.
That winter, back in Germany, I stored the car in my garage until May 2015 before I took it for the first ride. Two months and 1000km later, I found some water drops on the dipstick—not good. An endoscopy revealed the engine was mixing the two as a result of a leaky cylinder liner which was allowing water into the sump. The next time I talked with Roberto—we had stayed in touch of course—I had to bear the bad news: I could not bring my car to the enthusiast owners club meeting, Tori Urraco. Roberto was about as sad as I was about this turn of events, and so he introduced me to a Lamborghini garage that he thought could supply me with the knowledge and parts I needed to set things right. I ordered practically all the engine’s internal parts, and started down the long road toward rebuilding it.
In the meantime, I flew in to the the 2015 owners meeting, and it was during that weekend that I became acquainted with Monica and Rene from Lucerne in Switzerland. We talked about our cars of course, and I learned that Monica and Rene also had problems with their engine the year before, but the problem was fixed, and they arrived with their white one for me to ogle. I had the opportunity to drive with Rene for a few kilometers in his car, and following that I became even more impatient to get my engine ready! During the 2015 trip, I also had the opportunity to meet the legendary Lamborghini designer responsible for the Urraco and other greats like the Miuria and Countach, Paolo Stanzani. Unfortunately he passed away earlier this year, and so I feel lucky to have been able to talk with him in person about the L240 V8 engine in the Urraco and its difficulties. He even signed a piston of my broken engine! Thanks Paolo for this great car!
The 2016 meeting was to be held in May in Milano, and it would take us through parts of Italy to end in Torino. My engine was finished in April, cutting things close, and so I travelled the first 500km on the fresh engine, took it out to check how it was holding up and re-tighten the heads, adjust the valve clearances, and put in some fresh oil. The Urraco meeting was the best opportunity I’ve had to put some spectacular mileage on the car, and I invited my friend Ronny along again, the two of us meeting up with fellow Urraco friends Rene and Monica before we all set off in our two cars toward Milano. We had superb weather as we crossed through the Alps, and the views were as astounding as you can imagine, enhanced just that little bit more because we were peering out of a Lamborghini’s windscreen!
Arriving in Milano, we found Roberto already waiting for us with a smile and a good deal of wine; we had much to celebrate after all, old friends and new friends meeting again, and this time I had a running car to participate with. The next day we visited the Alfa Romeo Museum, Carozzeriea Touring Superleggera as well as Zagato in Milano.
In Torino we started to visit the mountaintop religious site, Sacra di San Michele, where Lamborghini would go to photograph their first prototypes for the Countach. After that, we made our way to the Bertone design center in Caprie, not far from Torino. Being at the compound that had produced so many iconic designs was special in its own right, but even more fun was the quarry across the way from the Bertone buildings. This was another site for early press photos of Lamborghini’s and Bertone’s creations.
After taking some photos of our cars in this spot, we met Arrigo Gallizio and Ercole Spada, who were under contract of Bertone and responsible for the construction for the Urraco. They showed us some original drawings and sketches from the car’s development age and signed my glovebox lid. Unfortunately, Arrigo has since passed away, but his creations will live on.