The Lamborghini Jalpa Perfectly Illustrates the Dawn of the ’80s
2021 marks the Jalpa's 40th anniversary.
Automobili Lamborghini, everybody’s favorite bull-themed Italian supercar shop, just released a little album of 1981 Jalpa pictures to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the car’s existence. The company’s media release calls the Jalpa “the last [V8] grand touring sedan” but I think it’s better described as a perfect showcase of the 1970s becoming the 1980s.
- Car: 1981 Lamborghini Jalpa
- Location: Let’s say Sant’Agata Bolognese?
- Photog: Unknown (images owned by Lamborghini, used with permission)
- Camera: Unknown
Most car enthusiasts associate the ’80s with hard angles and novelty technology. Retrospectively, the ’70s seem a little aesthetically simpler. While wedge-shaped sports car designs had gained a lot of momentum by the Carter Administration, you’ll start to see even more aggressive interior layouts, lights, and switches from the years afterward.
The first version of the Jalpa, which dropped at the 1981 Geneva Motor Show, perfectly embodies that visual transition. At least, that’s my take on the car’s look.
I have no idea why Lamborghini calls this sports car a “sedan” in its literature (linked above) but the company did issue some good nuggets about it along with a batch of photos, both of which I’ll format and share below.
Lamborghini Jalpa Fast Facts
- The Jalpa takes its name from a breed of fighting bulls, the Jalpa Kandachia.
- The line, with the Targa opening roof, was designed by Frenchman Marc Deschamps of Carrozzeria Bertone, where he was style director from 1980, and directly influenced and partially designed by Giulio Alfieri, who was General Manager and Technical Director of Lamborghini at the time.
- The most significant technical innovation on the Jalpa is the final evolution of the 90-degree V8 engine, made completely of aluminum, with four chain-controlled overhead camshafts, originally installed on the Urraco and Silhouette.
- Engine claimed maximum power of 255 HP at 7,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 231 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm.
- The Jalpa claimed a top speed of 155 mph.
- 420 Jalpas were built in total, between 1981 and 1987.
More Pics Because Why Not
A Little More Backstory Shared by Lamborghini
“The Jalpa prototype, the car presented in Geneva, has a special story. It is based on a Silhouette which, once produced, was never sold. It went back to the factory and was used as the basis for the new model. The Jalpa presented in Geneva in 1981 is easily recognizable by its special metallic bronze color and has some unique aesthetic features that were not used on the production car. The Jalpa, which entered into production in 1982, has a semi-supporting steel body, and black bumpers and engine air intakes, as well as horizontal rear lamps and 16-inch alloy wheels, taken directly from the Athon prototype, with Pirelli P7 low-profile tires. The interior of the Jalpa is luxuriously finished, with the extensive use of leather and carpeting. The opening roof, designed to facilitate removal and reassembly, can be stored in a special space behind the rear seats. In the numerous road tests that appeared in specialist magazines at the time, experts enthusiastically described its straightforward, engaging, and uncompromising road handling.”
“At the 1984 Geneva Motor Show, the ‘second series’ Jalpa was presented, featuring some aesthetic modifications, such as the bumpers and air intakes in the same color as the bodywork, rounded rear lamps, and revamped interior. The commercial life of the Jalpa ended in 1988 after the production of 420 cars. It was the last Lamborghini sedan produced with a V8 engine and historically it is the last sports car of this class to feature this particular engine displacement and positioning. Conceptually, the Jalpa is the direct predecessor of the 2003 Gallardo, which was to become one of the most sold Lamborghini cars in history.”