1974 Bertone Bravo for Lamborghini
1974 Bertone Bravo for LamborghiniEnlarge Photo
Every little boy growing up in the '80s, with even the slightest inkling of petrol streaming through his veins, instantly fell in love with the Lamborghini Countach. Grown men wheezed at the mere mention of the futuristic Italian super car. In fact, there couldn’t have been a single member of the human race that didn’t have some sort of emotional reaction to the Bertone-designed masterpiece. To my knowledge, the only living creature not moved by the sight of a Countach was the giant ape in King Kong Lives—the ill-fated 1986 remake of the 1933 classic. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, allow me to Google that for you.
The enormously positive reception to the 1971 Geneva Motor Show Countach Concept immediately garnered some rethinking of the Lamborghini lineup. Still elated by their wedged creation, the jubilant parents, Lamborghini and Bertone, decided to head into the baby-making room once again hoping to duplicate their previous success. The creation, first shown at the 1974 Turin Motor Show, was named Bravo.
Internally referenced as Study 114, the Bravo was designed as a successor to the Urraco—using the same chassis and powertrain configuration—and was to be marketed as an entry-level model, positioning Lamborghini at a more accessible price point for enthusiasts not fortunate enough to be independently wealthy. Proof of how serious Lamborghini was in building the Bravo lies in the fact that 40,000 test miles were placed on the chassis and its 3-liter, 300-horsepower V-8--all of this occurring prior to the car’s debut at the Turin show.
While the mechanics of the Bravo were carried over, the unique styling stood on its own. The overtly wedged, mono-block form carried the stylistic trend set by Bertone’s Marcello Gandini on his previous automotive wet dream, the Countach. Devoid of design distractions such as safety bumpers, blistered wheel arches, and spoilers; the Bravo was destined for greatness. You could have considered it the Farrah Fawcett of the automotive world—sexy, sleek, and sophisticated. The very few mandated features were masterfully styled. Rectangular vents carved into the hood hid the pop-up fixed beam headlamps and were duplicated over the rear engine cover, allocating an abundance of breathing room for the small displacement Italian eight-cylinder.
An overall height of less than 40 inches made a case for the dramatically rearward swept windscreen which was enhanced by the visual lack of an A-pillar. A styling cue that’s now somewhat commonplace, in the '70s was considered to display extremely forward thinking. A combination of edge-to-edge glass and heavy tinting gave the Bravo a wraparound canopy appearance, although in reality, the A-pillars were in place keeping occupants safe. The DLO (Day Light Opening) finished itself by bottlenecking and reemerging as a vent to feed cool air to the engine bay at speed. To aid in the breakup of forms, a black rubberized strip wraps itself around the Bravo encompassing the fog lamps, tail lamps, and the large Bravo script on the rear deck face.
Characteristic Bertone styling elements such as the pentagonal wheel arches and the five-holed wheels that fill them, were unfortunately the only bits of design that ever made it to production—but had been prepared for human consumption prior to the Bravo’s reveal.
Regrettably, the interior wasn’t as well conceived or crafted as the exterior form. It proved almost an afterthought, compounded by the heaving remnants of a blue Alcantara monster’s vomit covering each and every far reaching surface. It was very Italian. Very much indeed.
No matter how stunning the exterior presented itself, nor how much the Bravo would have grown Lamborghini’s customer base; it was eventually given the pass over by the top Sant’Agata brass after the company faced near financial ruin. Upon production cancellation, Bravo was finally put to rest in Bertone’s private museum in Italy where it can be found to this day.
È una vergogna maledetta.