1974 Lamborghini EspadaEnlarge Photo
As far as classic sports car goes, barely anything can beat an Italian car with a V-12 up front. The cost of owning one of these can be expensive, but the cheapest entry into this category would have to be the Lamborghini Espada.
Styling was based off of two Bertone concept cars from 1967: The Jaguar Pirana and the Lamborghini Marzal. The Marzal had many features that would be incorporated into the production model, like the 2+2 seating arrangements and the glass window below the shallow angled hatchback to increase rear visibility, though the two huge gullwing doors didn’t. The car was very aggressively styled for the time, and had a roofline four inches lower and a track that was five inches wider than the more contemporarily styled Lamborghini Islero.
Like most cars built by the company at the time, it used the 4.0L DOHC V-12 that produced 325 horsepower when introduced in 1968. Unlike the engines in the 400gt and Miura, it had to make do with side-draft Weber carburetors to clear the low hood, which had two NACA ducts to feed the thirsty engine. Other performance features included a five-speed manual (or later a Chrysler Torqueflite automatic,) double wishbones and disc brakes on all four corners.Acceleration was decent for its time at 7.8 seconds, but would do around 140 miles an hour and carry four people at the same time.
Later generations would receive a 25 horsepower bump in power and in the United States the sleek car was forced to wear heavy rubber safety bumpers. By the time it was production ended in 1978, 10 years after it started, the company had produced 1,217.
Prices for an Espada aren’t anywhere near that of other Italian V-12s and good examples can be bought for less than $50,000.