The Lamborghini Urraco Battles Conservatism with Sheer Madness
Owner and photographer (except above and below, left photo from “Classic Cars Magazine”): Robert Billam
Year, Make, and Model: 1973 Lamborghini Urraco S
Location: Cannes, France
Three years ago, I happened upon a copy of “Classic Cars Magazine,” the December 2009 issue. Featured on the cover were a group of ‘baby’ supercars such as the Ferrari 308 GT4, Lamborghini Urraco, Maserati Merak, and Porsche 928 S4 with a headline that read “£15k Fantasies?”
I was struck by a beauty in motion, a slightly blurred shot featuring the sharp profile of a car unknown to me, the Urraco. It looked potently evocative, the embodiment of speed, flight. In this superb shot it truly appeared to be moving at an impossible speed. I am deeply indebted to the “Classic Cars” photographer. Despite the claim on the cover, the car was surely unattainable. Fantasy land. It isn’t like any other car on the road. It makes a statement—a statement for sheer madness, eccentricity, and flamboyance in design. All conservatism went out the window. The car is striking from every angle, and the “Classic Cars” photographer captured this.
I contacted a few friends as well as Claude Fresard who had a car museum in Muriaux, Switzerland and who knows many of the right people. I also called the Lamborghini head office and spoke to a lady who seemed genuine about trying to find one for me. I was hopeful because of her attitude. Time passed and after four or five months of waiting, I got an idea. Perhaps obvious, but to me it wasn’t. I looked to see if “Classic Cars” mentioned the owner of the Lamborghini Urraco. Indeed, they had. It was a certain Ant Hawkes.
I looked him up and found a number. I called and knew, instantly, that I had a true “gentleman” on the line. To me it seemed that there was zero possibility that he would consider selling this beauty. And although I didn’t know it at the time, Ant Hawkes was the President of the UK Lamborghini Club and owned along with the Urraco S, two Espadas, and a Jalpa. But apparently he was willing to sell the Urraco! He did warn me upfront that some work was required and highly recommended Colin Clarke Engineering, the mecca, for classic Lamborghinis. The Urraco was trucked to Colin’s clinic and fully sorted.
I flew over to England and dined in a Pub with Ant. In all honesty, it was a bit overwhelming as Ant isn’t a lightweight when it comes to Lamborghini knowledge. Whether discussing the brand’s history, genesis, original objectives, engineering issues, the people, or development Ant knows his stuff. I was swamped. I felt a lightweight; an esthete, but a lightweight.
When the Urraco was done, I hit the road. Colin Clarke had done a masterful job. I drove to Paris and photographed the car in Place Vendôme, such a romantic setting, and shared them with Ant and Colin. I drove (is this the right word when one is behind the wheel of a Lamborghini?), let’s say I felt, thanked, and bugged many to share the experience. The Urraco is a very, very rare car on the road. I had simply fallen for this extravagantly mad design. And what a great joy to give thrills to many on the road. People were struck dumb by her lines, by her sound, and happily understood my manic expression.
I will never forget seeing a Lamborghini Jarama maneuvering into a little village house garage in Plascassier village in 1973. The Urraco never sees the Croisette (editor’s note: a very congested main street along the coastline) in Cannes, but is appreciated by many on the country roads around Grasse. Maybe she gives more thrills today than she has ever given.
Editor’s note: if the owner seems familiar, it’s because we recently featured his Fiat Dino as well. If you’d like to read that story, which didn’t quite go as smoothly, click here.
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