Despite its Bertone-penned design, the Lamborghini Jalpa was not a standout in the supercar maker's long history.
We wouldn't blame anyone for mistaking the Lamborghini Jalpa at first with its older brother, the Countach. But the Jalpa wasn't one of Lamborghini's V12 supercars, but rather the V8-powered precursor to today's Gallardo - only it never came close to reaching the same sales success that its ten-cylinder successor has, nor did it reach particularly amazing performance figures. The Jalpa is still interesting for many reasons, but at the end of the day, it represents a missed opportunity on Lamborghini's part.
First launched in 1981, the Jalpa was an evolution of the even older Silhouette, another attempt by Lamborghini to build an "entry-level" model. On paper, the Jalpa had a lot going for it: It was much cheaper than the Countach and was designed by Bertone. It was also easier to drive due to its better visibility and better manners in traffic. Anyone who's driven a Countach will know what exactly what we mean by those annoyances. Its main competitor at the time was the Ferrari 308, much as the Gallardo rivals the 458. Power came from a 3.5-liter V8 that produced 255 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque and was mated to a five-speed manual.
Performance was decent for its era, with a 0-62 time of 6 seconds flat and a top speed of 145 mph. It weighed just a tad over 3,300 lbs. but overall, these numbers were nothing spectacular. And that's a real shame because the Jalpa could have been a much better car than it was. There are a few reasons for its shortcomings, but the biggest one of all was that Lamborghini lacked the motivation to fully develop it. Like its Silhouette predecessor, the Jalpa's design was attractive, but build quality issues were a problem. The interior had a cool layout, but was constructed from rather cheap materials that have often been compared to cardboard.
It wasn't until the Acura/Honda NSX was launched in 1990 with its solid Japanese quality did Italian brands like Lamborghini and Ferrari began to invest more time and money in this vital department. However, there weren't any special editions like there are with the Gallardo or even the Countach. Lamborghini back then just never felt the need to invest more in something that wasn't its top-of-the-line model. The company was also suffering from financial issues at the time, another reason for Countach priority. During its seven-year lifetime, the Jalpa received a few styling changes like the replacement of its black front and rear bumpers with body color units in 1984.
When Lamborghini was sold to Chrysler in 1987, the new owners opted to end Jalpa production. Altogether, just over 400 units were built and it was Lamborghini's most successful V8 model up to that point. To compare, over 10,000 Gallardos have been built and it's gone on to become Lamborghini's most successful model ever. That's what happens when the so-called entry-level model is truly a spectacular car. This 1986 Jalpa that's currently up for sale is reportedly in solid condition inside and out. Despite its age, the owner still has all of its original documents and repair history. It's also been properly maintained over the years and is fully roadworthy.