Immediately before I read last week’s review subject, I whetted my appetite with the similarly weighty, if less cerebral, The Book of the Lamborghini Urraco, by Arnsteim Landsem, an improbable name which feels like an anagram waiting to happen.
He’s eminently qualified to write a book about this most maligned of Sant Agata’n supercars, not only has Landsem owned a Urraco himself, but the car is also the subject of a large tattoo on his arm. Clearly a man of passion, if not necessarily prudent decisions.
Let’s sit on the reading mat together for today’s offering from the Redusernab Bookshelf.
At two hundred richly illustrated pages, Urraco charts the development and production of the Urraco and its derivatives from conception to eventual demise, beginning with a brief potted history of Lamborghini to put everything nicely in context.
The story of the Urraco proper begins with discussions of the great names behind the new, smaller Lambo, with Stanzani and the more well-known Gandini being given recognition for their roles. Mention is, appropriately, given of the many concept cars that paved a course for the new car.
The construction, engineering and mechanical particulars of the Urraco are explored intimately, in a manner thats written in just dry enough a style to display that the author was seriously interested in his subject matter. When broaching the topic of Ni-Cr-Mo steel (for the crankshaft, natch) I had to blink to regain a little moisture in my eyes. These occasional lapses into overt technicality had me reaching for a beer and a massive cigar.
It really is incredibly descriptive and very thoroughly researched, no doubt achieved by Landsem through speaking to the right people. A long and impressive list of Lamborghini illuminati.
Refreshingly, as an owner – and by extrapolation a fan of the Urraco, Landsem is under no illusion whatsoever that the car was free of flaws. Indeed, the truth is laid bare, with opinions provided by reliable sources, including engineer Stanzani legendary test drivers Bob Wallace and Valentino Balboni, and 28-year Lamborghini Sales Manager Ubaldo Sgarzi.
An interesting, if not entirely unexpected anecdote is that the famous black Urraco chosen by James May’s in Top Gear’s £10,000 Supercar Challenge was actually perfectly well-behaved, its electrical gremlins having been engineered by the production crew in the interests of Good TV.
The photography is lustrous throughout, including many photoshoots commissioned specifically for this production – though I’m unsure whether the extra dose of glamour lent by the leather-clad temptress in the centre feature is strictly necessary. Magnificent buttocks, though [/sexism].
Other images include development and publicity material from the Lamborghini archive, and of design renderings recreated by the formidably talented David Rodriguez. It’s the kind of coffee-table showcase that non car-people would merrily leaf through, but that would be a waste.
After the P250 and much improved P300, the development story continues with the re-skinned Silhouette, and into the ’80s with the further refined and mechanically updated Jalpa, a car which became the last ‘affordable’ Lambo until the Gallardo was to appear nearly two decades later.
It’s with this car that the book concludes, but not before running through the Urraco’s specification in intricate detail, as well as running through its rivals and surveying the numerous scale models that have been offered over the years – which I found particularly interesting.
Faults? Nope, not really, if anything you could accuse the author of not knowing when to stop – a few of the latter pages seem to have been added as garnish and don’t really add anything to the whole. Otherwise it’s as close to an official authority for the Urraco as I can imagine being necessary.
I happily declare this book to be a must-have if you’re at all interested in the ‘Baby Lamborghini’, which, of course, you are.
(All images are of Intermeccanica, The Story of the Prancing Bull, published by Veloce. ISBN 978-1-845842-86-4. It was bought and paid for, and provided far more entertainment than was necessary to distract me from Cornish drizzle on holiday)