Market Finds: There’s No Car Quite As Eccentric and Elegant As Lamborghini’s First

There’s No Car Quite As Eccentric and Elegant As Lamborghini’s First

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
March 8, 2016
5 comments

Photography Courtesy of Gooding & Company

With more than 50 years of business, Lamborghini has established itself as one of the greatest supercar manufacturers of all time. They’ve had enough singles to justify a greatest hits album: the Lamborghini Museum. We’ve already covered the marque’s origins; so instead, let’s jam a different riff.

I miss ’90s rock. Stone Temple Pilots, Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Rage Against The Machine, and Tool—when is that new album coming out? This 1965 Lamborghini 350 GT is to Lamborghini what the album Ten is to Pearl Jam. Its very first and, I think, very best. Now, I’m not saying Vedder and the gang didn’t produce more great music, nor am I saying Lamborghini hasn’t made great cars since their first. I’m saying Ten is the perfect Pearl Jam album and the 350 GT is the perfect Lamborghini.

Many of you probably disagree. After all, the Countach is more iconic, beloved, and commonly favored as the brand’s greatest achievement. But this, the 350 GT, like Ten, embodies the very beginning of a new idea. When both debuted, they were fresh takes on already established concepts: rock music and sports cars.

At the very birth of Lamborghini, founder Ferruccio Lamborghini hired Giotto Bizzarrini, Gian Paolo Dallara, and Franco Scaglione—the trio were former Ferrari employees! The team got to cracking out an all-new V12 engine and coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring was hired to manufacturer the aluminum Superleggera bodies.

When the 350 GTV prototype was unveiled at the 1964 Geneva Auto Show, people were captivated with the car’s space age Jetsons design. In 2016, the story is very much the same. Sure, it looks like a 50-year-old classic, but not quite like any other car from that vintage. It was eccentric but elegant, restrained but futuristic. The production version, renamed the 350 GT, received various cosmetic alterations and the engine was detuned in favor or reliability, but the concept’s overall package carried into production.

With its long hood and accompanying short front overhang, to it’s tapering cabin slope, the pontoon-shaped body is the classic sportscar recipe. What stood out from the norm was the ovoid sealed beam headlamps and rounded greenhouse—notice the massive panoramic windshield and teardrop c-pillars—as if the glass was shaped to emulate a bubble in a wind tunnel.

The 350 GT wasn’t just an aesthetic stunner, either. Its bespoke V12 produced 270 horsepower—enough power to launch this UFO from 0 to 60 in just 5.8 seconds and beyond to an astonishing 158 mph! Unsatisfied with his Ferrari 250 GT (the kick starter to Lamborghini being founded), perhaps it’s not surprising Ferruccio held quality control to such high standards.

It’s said each engine was rigorously tested for 20 plus hours prior to being mated to their assigned chassis. Once assembly was complete, every 350 GT was further road tested prior to delivery. This example was the 62nd of the 120 produced from 1964 to 1966—chassis number 0343.

Purchased new by an enthusiast in Madrid, the car here was ordered in Argento Metallizzato (metallic silver) with Tobacco leather upholstery. It remained in Spain for more than four decades and was resprayed at some point in the dark metallic green paint it currently wears—an unusual but complementary color to the saddle interior.

Japanese collector Isao Noritake bought the car in 2009 as an addition to his private museum. Noritake was an avid raging bull enthusiast, and was acting chairman and cofounder of the Japan Lamborghini Owner’s Club. Isao never registered the car in Japan, leaving the original Spanish license plates on the car throughout ownership.

The interior is claimed to be entirely original and presents in excellent condition—preservation credit going to the aftermarket clear plastic seat covers installed at some point. An American enthusiast purchased chassis 0343 in 2015 and, upon receiving, had the car inspected and serviced. The maintenance included all new suspension bushings, filters, fluids, plugs and wires, and cleaning the carburetors.

The odometer reads 97,195 kilometers (60,746 miles) since new, making this a regularly-used 350 GT—though, nowhere near one with 300,000 miles. Included in the sale are the original sales brochures and factory tool kit to include jack. Far from a one-hit-wonder, Lamborghini has continuously cranked out some of the world’s greatest performance cars, and that success all started with their very first track.

History
– Delivered new in Madrid
– Numbers matching and recently serviced
– One respray since new, interior believed to be factory

Specifications
~270 horsepower, 3,463-cc dual overhead cam V12, five-speed ZF manual transmission, Salisbury differential, four wheel independent suspension, and four wheel vacuum servo-assisted disc brakes. Wheelbase: 100.4 in.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: 0343
Engine no.: 0274

Valuation
Auction house: Gooding & Company
Estimate: $650,000 – $750,000
Price realized: Auction on March 12

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Derelict
Derelict

All Bizz did was the motor.

John Roth
John Roth

I don’t think Bizzarrini was ever a Lamborghini employee either. He was contracted to produce an engine for the company but he and Lamborghini had a falling out over drivability which was corrected by either Gian Paolo Dallara or Paolo Stanzani.

A number of Bizzarrini stories end with “they had a falling out”. He must be a talented but difficult guy.

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt

Why do you start this by saying it’s eccentric?
It’s not in any way.
I had one for a couple of months around 1970 or so, I took it on trade, a lovely car. I was living in LA at the time and it’s stood the test of So Cal traffic with ease

JaguarX
JaguarX

Nice article, except Franco Scaglione was never an employee of Ferrari.

He’d worked for Bertone, but only ever on a single Ferrari – the 166 – which was an Abarth partnership.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Errr … I can think of at least ten cars of the era that are more eccentric and a hell of a lot more elegant [ truth be known the 350 GT is anything but elegant ] than Lamborghini’s first . Fact is I wouldn’t even go so far as the author has to compare it to Pearl Jam’s ” Ten ” . Fact is ” Ten ” was ground breaking whereas the 350 and later 400 GT was err …. following the status quo of the day at best . If anything the Miura would be Lambo’s ” Ten… Read more »