Featured: Dream Drives: A Lamborghini Espada Makes A Grand Tour Of Europe

Dream Drives: A Lamborghini Espada Makes A Grand Tour Of Europe

By Petrolicious Productions
June 21, 2018

Story by Laura Ferriccioli
Photography by Marco Annunziata

Have you seen a silver Lamborghini Espada gliding through Europe in the past few days? You might also have spotted it in the Swiss mountain landscapes while it was on a trip of more than 2,500 miles, cruising from Warwick in the English Midlands to Tuscany—where these pictures were taken—and back again.

Not forgetting to spend four days at Le Mans, of course. And not by accident: “I joined my brother there to see this year’s 24-hour race together,” says Jonny Ambrose, the owner of this spectacular super tourer that epitomizes ‘60s and ‘70s stylish road tripping. In keeping with the car’s purpose, Jonny drove his across four countries in two and a half weeks, visiting legendary racetracks, car factories, and museums not only to enjoy his wonderful Espada on open roads, but to also engage in research for his day job.

British, 46 years old, Jonny is a Motoring Art sculptor. As an artist he did a sort of grand tour of the automotive world, soaking up inspiration as he went. And, actually, providing inspiration as well. To us, for example: having a glimpse through a photoshoot of his 1970 series two Espada while hustling across the Central Alps or in a rollercoaster drive north of Mugello Circuit was pure poetry. But let us pick up the story.

“I left Warwickshire heading to Folkstone to meet up with the Lamborghini Club UK, which included three Miuras on this occasion, and also for a blast down to see what remains of the historic Reims-Giroux circuit. Then, traveling solo again, the next stop was the Hockenheimring, plus the Jim Clark memorial. Onwards to Stuttgart, I visited the Porsche museum for the 70th-anniversary activities. And, after finding the old road race circuit of Solitude, in Leonberg, I continued south for a much-needed break from driving at Radolfzell, Untersee,” he recalls.

Arriving in Zurich, where the original owner of this Espada once lived, Jonny started to retrace the route made by the famed former Lamborghini chief test driver Valentino Balboni, and from there to Sant’Agata Bolognese.

Jonny bought the Espada 18 months ago: “I’ve always loved this model, it is so low and quirky, such a unique shape. It’s also comfy and looks like a muscle car but elegant like all good Italian design. So, I had been looking and this beautiful left-hand drive example that came up for sale was perfect.” It needed no restoration, and only the original “Miura-style spinners have been repainted, and I have installed a period-correct Becker Mexico eight-track,” which definitely looks very cool, old-school or otherwise.

“The route was then via Hinwil to say ‘Hello!’ to the Sauber F1 team too,” the artist continues. “After that, I got caught in a big rainstorm en route to my overnight stop in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland, where there are almost 400 public sculptures around the town. But the morning after I had a magical journey up and over the San Bernardino Pass, precisely as Balboni took.”

His first stop in Italy was in Arese, near Milan, to see the Alfa Romeo museum, where he got a guided tour and stayed for an entire afternoon. Another a rain storm hit while getting to Modena —“The wipers were not working!”—and from there he took in factory tours at Pagani and Lamborghini, including the Polo Storico where he was invited to see the Lamborghini archives.

“I also visited Imola circuit that evening to pay my respects to Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.” A short while he visited the Panini Maserati collection, the Museo Enzo Ferrari, and received a warm welcome at the Ferruccio Lamborghini museum; “I will make a special sculpture for them!”

Then he decided to head to Mugello and enjoying a drive in “The stunning roads of the Futa Pass,” in the Apennine Mountains between Bologna and Florence.

“The maximum speed I pushed the car to during the whole trip was 120mph on the German Autobahn but generally I kept temperatures reasonable by doing roughly 80mph and enjoying the sounds and sights along the way.” Last stops were made for a Maserati factory tour once back in Modena and later near Aosta. Here, Jonny didn’t miss the opportunity to visit the cult movie locations of the original 1969 version ofThe Italian Job before arriving at Gstaad and then on to visit more legendary French road circuits Clermont Ferrand, Circuit de la Sarthe, and finally the dauntingly fast Rouen-Les-Essarts.

Nevertheless, the overall reason for this motoring odyssey at the wheel of the stylish dashboard of the Espada, considered by many as the fastest four-seater in the world when introduced in 1968 (V12, 325bhp that increased to 350 on the series twos), was a sort of solo celebration of the model’s 50th anniversary.

Sadly, Jonny can’t take part in the Espada and Islero’s official birthday event by Lamborghini from Perugia to Sant’Agata during September 7th-11th, as he has an exhibition of his work at the Goodwood Revival at the same time. So if you didn’t happen to catch the silver Espada on this amazing tour, you won’t see it in Italy again soon, unfortunately. However, if you’re one of the lucky attendees of the Bicester Heritage events in England, you might still get the chance to see it at the next Sunday Scramble, where it displays regularly.

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Jason Ross
Jason Ross
3 years ago

I love that the rear tail lights are shared with my mundane Fiat 124 AC coupe of the same era.

Love both cars.

Russ Wollman
Russ Wollman
5 years ago

While I read the story, at some point—I don’t recall just when—I heard that motore di dodici cilindri sing…but only for a brief moment. The Espada is simply lush.

wing nut
wing nut
6 years ago

I’ve had the pleasure of putting some miles on an Espada and all I recall was how heavy, but solid the car felt and the glorious sound of the V12. Bellisima! I drove the car around Jacksonville, Florida and over the Buckman bridge which is nearly a mile long. With the windows down and the concrete barriers allowing for the sound of the engine to reverberate back into the cockpit I was in heaven. I love unique cars and the Espada certainly qualifies. The car was also silver but with dark navy blue interior and with the radio sitting in front of the passenger it was clear certain ergonomics had been forgotten as there was no way I could reach the radio dials! A fantastic grand touring car and one everyone should drive at least once. And what a statement the car made when pulling up to the valet at a restaurant. A true 4 seater with style. Great article and photos. Thanks for the memories.

Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
6 years ago

Back in the day I had the option of buying either a used Ferrari or a used Espada for about the same price ( less than the cost of a new Vette back in the day ) And though from an investment perspective the Ferrari turned out to be the wiser choice In my heart and my gut I’ve never quite gotten over what might of been had I chosen the Espada instead .

As for this Espada ? She’s a beauty . And kudos to the owner for using it as the builder intended rather than letting it collect dust in a collection

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