A stunning mid-engine convertible that didn’t receive the love it deserved

When you think of Lamborghini in the 80s, one would instantly think of the Countach. A world-famous poster car of the time period and a car that summarises the exact aesthetic of a stereotypical 80s vibe.

Lamborghini Jalpa
Craig Howell from San Carlos, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

However, the Lamborghini Jalpa is equally deserving of being known as ‘that Lamborghini from the 80s’. The Jalpa was like the equivalent of what the Gallardo was to the Murcielago and what the Huracan currently is to the Aventador. Intended to be a more affordable entry into the Lamborghini brand for those that didn’t want to spend Countach money, the Jalpa was still a rather elegant and capable mid-engine sports car.

Lamborghini Jalpa
ilikewaffles11, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The difference between a Jalpa and something like a Gallardo or Huracan is that only 410 were ever made, making it very rare today and more of a collector’s item than other more widely produced models.

Built from 1981-1988, the Jalpa was in fact the most successful V8 Lamborghini at the time but once sales started to slow down, the new owners of Lamborghini, Chrysler, decided to discontinue it.

Lamborghini Jalpa
ilikewaffles11, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Powered by a 3.5-litre V8 engine producing around 250hp, the Jalpa wasn’t exactly extreme and by today’s standards, many would say it’s sluggish. Reportedly doing 0-62mph in around 6.5 seconds, the Jalpa is no longer capable of impressing today’s speed junkie, although the same could be said even about the Countach.

Instead, one could argue that this limited-production entry-level Lamborghini was special for other reasons. For instance, all Jalpas were built as Targas, meaning the roof was able to be taken of and then stored behind the seats. Also, unlike the Countach, the Jalpa’s styling was a tad more conservative. Although it is still a wedge-shaped 80s sports car, the design seems like a more sober experience when comparing it to the many vents, contours and non-functional aero parts (although some Jalpas also have the rear wing) of the Countach. The Countach may be the one we all remember but the Jalpa may have actually been the prettier of the two.

That being said, it is known that the Jalpa was not a particularly well put together car. Panel misalignment, electronics failing and various weaknesses under the bonnet were all concerns at the time of release and for those owning one today, we can only imagine that owning a Jalpa must be like putting out fires, constantly.

At the moment, it would seem that the Jalpa is fading further away into obscurity but we can only hope that this niche classic one day is recognised as the subtly gorgeous car it truly is.

Let us know what you think of the Jalpa, in the comments below.

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