Vintage & Classics

Short-lived Lamborghini Urraco celebrates its 50th anniversary

The Lamborghini Urraco celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

It's been 50 years since Lamborghini made the first Urraco. You're excused if you don't remember it. The car's nine-year run moved the brand forward, starting out as a technologically advanced model and eventually making way for the Gallardo and, ultimately, the Huracán.

The model was originally created at the request of Ferruccio Lamborghini, who was eager to expand the company's production and make a Lamborghini that would be accessible to a wider audience.

Lamborghini says that the car's innovative place in the market was thanks in large part of the car's engineer Paolo Stanzani who was Lamborghini's Chief Technical Officer at the time.

Lamborghini Urraco

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

The 2+2 coupe featured a mid-mounted 2.5-liter V8 rear engine and independent suspension. Rhe Urraco featured the double novelty of an eight-cylinder engine and distribution with a single overhead camshaft per bank. According to the automaker, the technical refinement was "completed by the use of a 'Heron chamber' engine head with flat inner part and the combustion chamber contained in a depression in the top of the piston". This engineering solution made it possible to achieve a higher compression ratio without increasing the costs.

Initially, the Urraco was rated to achieve 220 horsepower and have a top speed of 152 mph.

It had a MacPherson strut system on the front and rear - a first for a production car. It also uniquely had four Weber double-body 40 IDF1 type carburetors.

The Urraco interior measures 167 inches long, about as long as the 2020 Nissan Kicks. Positioning the instrument cluster and dished steering wheel was a particular challenge because of the tight squeeze.

Lamborghini introduced the car to the market as the P250 Urraco, where the "P" stood for the rear (posterior) position of the engine, and 250 for the engine capacity (2.5 liters). That version was produced from 1970 to 1976. The automaker sold 520 Urracos during that stretch.

At the 1974 Turin Motor Show, the P200 debuted as a model focused on the Italian market. It sold from 1975-1977 with 66 models being produced.

The last version of the Urraco, the P300, was produced from 1975 to 1979. Lamborghini sold 190 of them during that time.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

This 1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series 5 is one of one.

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

Three vintage Aston Martins will be part of the first Silverstone Auctions sale of the year on March 5-6, 2021. The three models represent some of the rarest Astons in the world. Let's take a closer look.

1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series 5

This car (seen above at the top of the page) is one of just 50 Series 5 DB4 saloons built prior to the arrival of the DB5, and it was one of the last ones off the line. The left-hand drive car retains its original engine and gearbox, and is finished in its original specification of Aegean Blue over White Gold.

The car is well-traveled. It was originally delivered new to California and comes to its new owner with an Aston Martin Assured Provenance document.

If it looks familiar, Bond fans, that's because it was a DB4 Series 5 Vantage that was used in filming "Goldfinger".

1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Vantage

1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2 Vantage

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

This is one of only 71 DB6 Mk2s that was equipped with the Vantage engine straight from the factory when new. Making it more rare is the fact that it is a right-hand drive saloon with a factory fitted manual gearbox. Those factors make it a one of one.

This chassis has been presented in multiple concours, had several successes with the Aston Martin Owners Club, and has undergone a significant engine overhaul by Aston Martin Works. It's finished in British Racing Green.

1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2

1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk2

Photo courtesy of Silverstone Auctions

Lots of special attention courtesy of Aston Martin Works has made this 1969 DB6 a model worth taking a second look at for enthusiasts looking to invest. A history file of the car detailing all the work done includes notes regarding a full interior retrim, which was conducted at the same factory where the car was originally built.

The model was originally delivered new to Halesowen in October 1969. The car's original Celeste Blue metallic paint job was accompanied by a dark blue Connolly hide interior (bodywork is now finished in dark blue). It was supplied with the optional two front seat belts when new.

Trending News

 
 

Walter P. Chrysler stands next to his1924 Chrysler Six, the first car bearing the Chrysler name.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's been nearly 100 years since Walter P. Chrysler formed the Chrysler Corporation. In that time, the company has been merged, spilt, sold, and reborn in a variety of forms, but its roots still remain in Michigan where it is known as one of the Big Three automakers alongside General Motors and Ford.

Let's take a look back at the history of the company from its highest highs to its lowest lows, and everything in between.

The beginning

1925 Chrysler B70

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Walter Chrysler formed his namesake automotive company in 1925, when his employer, Maxwell Motor Company, was reorganized. A little over a year earlier, Chrysler's first production car, the Chrysler 70 (above), was released and featured several forward-looking innovations. The car came with a high-compression engine that had full-pressure lubrication, an oil filter, and a carburetor air filter.

An early pioneer

Early on, Chrysler pioneered several other automotive features that would eventually take over the entire industry. Four-wheel hydraulic brakes, rubber engine mounts, and more were all Chrysler's inventions. The company also developed a ridged rim for its car's wheels, which was designed to prevent a deflated tire from flying off the rim at speed. It was eventually picked up by the entire global automotive industry.

Introducing ... Plymouth

Plymouth Hotel Algonquin 1935 taxi cab

Photo by Martin Forstenzer/Getty Images

In 1928, Chrysler Corporation introduced the Plymouth brand, which was intended to be a lower-priced alternative. Early Plymouth models were rebadged Chrysler cars with small four-cylinder engines. In the photo above, a Plymouth taxicab is parked in front of the Hotel Algonquin in New York City in 1935.

DeSoto was also unveiled at this time as a mid-range model line for the group. Not long after, Chrysler snapped up the Dodge Brothers auto and truck company.

Hello, Mopar

In a stroke of genius that remains a large part of the automotive world today, Chrysler coined the MoPar brand in the 1930s. As a combination of the words "motor parts," the name is still used to describe vehicles and parts in the Chrysler-Dodge world today.

Imperial, Valiant, DeSoto

By the mid-1950s, Chrysler had spun up more nameplates to join its empire. In 1955, Imperial became a brand of its own after a run as the range-topping Chrysler model, and in 1960 the Valiant brand name came to be. In 1961, Chrysler discontinued the DeSoto line.

Chrysler in space

Saturn 1B Kennedy apollo picture

Photo by MPI/Getty Images

The automaker had a hand in the space program, too. In the late 1950s, NASA contracted Chrysler to build the first booster stage of the Saturn I and Saturn IB vehicles. The Saturn 1B is pictured above on January 22, 1968 launching Apollo 5 from Cape Kennedy, Florida, to complete the first flight test of an unmanned lunar module.

The company built the pieces for the Apollo Program at the Michoud Assembly Facility in East New Orleans, which was one of the largest manufacturing facilities on Earth at the time.

The future is now

1963 Plymouth Valiant

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Chrysler's forward thinking operations continued into the 1960s, when the automaker became the only of Detroit's Big Three to use a unibody design in its vehicles. Today, most passenger vehicles are unibody designs, but it was a novel idea at the time. Around the same time, the Valiant brand was moved back as a subsidiary of the Plymouth brand (a 1963 Plymouth Valiant is shown above), and became the first production car with an alternator.

Ooh, Barracuda

1965 Plymouth Barracuda

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1964, the Plymouth Barracuda was introduced (shown above as a 1965 model), almost two weeks before the unveiling of the Ford Mustang. Despite being first, the 'Cuda was outsold by the Mustang ten-to-one in its first year on the market. Chrysler had also set its sights on Europe by this time, and took a majority stake in the British Rootes Group in 1964. The venture was short-lived, however, as financial difficulties in the British company forced Chrysler to sell to PSA Peugeot Citroen in 1978.

Stiff competition, disastrous results

The 1970s proved to be a difficult time for Chrysler, as it was for all American car companies. Cheaper, smaller Japanese and European cars flooded the markets, as the oil crisis drove prices through the roof and made large, heavy cars almost immediately obsolete. Later in the decade, a rush to push new models to market led to massive warranty and repair costs for Chrysler, as its Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare were hurried to market with poor construction and an even worse design.

Mr. Iacocca

1984 Plymouth Voyager

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1978, Lee Iacocca joined Chrysler as CEO after having been fired from Ford. Because of its missteps with the Aspen and Volare models, Chrysler was hemorrhaging cash at the time. Iacocca started retooling the automaker from scratch, which included many layoffs, the sale of European assets to Peugeot, and the creation of the project that would ultimately lead to the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager (1984 model shown above). The project was driven by former Ford executives after Henry Ford II denied its forward progress under his watch.

Iacocca realized that the company would not be able to survive without a significant influx of cash to turn its fortunes around. In September 1979, he asked Congress for a $1.5 billion loan, which led to the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979. The military later purchased thousands of Dodge trucks from the company, which helped it recover and avoid bankruptcy.

The K-Car and the minivan

1982 Chrysler LeBaron

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1981, Chrysler released the first K-Car platform model - another rejected Ford project. The platform would go on to form the basis of several models throughout the decade (1982 Chrysler LeBaron shown above). In 1983, the first minivan was introduced, the success of which helped Chrysler repay the federal government the same year.

American Motors Corporation

The late 1980s were a consequential time for Chrysler. In 1987, the automaker was the subject of an investigation over its practice of disconnecting odometers during test drives before being shipped to dealers. The company settled out of court, but suffered a massive public relation hit. The same year, Iacocca led the acquisition of American Motors Corporation (AMC), which brought Jeep into the Chrysler fold for the first time. The Eagle brand was also created at this time.

Chrysler and Fiat Part I

In 1988, Chrysler and Fiat reached an agreement for the American automaker to be the exclusive distributed or Alfa Romeo in the United States, which lasted until Alfas were phased out in 1995. The early 1990s also saw Chrysler making a return to the streets of Europe, first with select Jeep models and then others.

DaimlerChrysler Motors Company

In 1998, Chrysler formed a 50-50 partnership with Daimler-Benz, and the automaker was renamed DaimlerChrysler Motors Company. Though it was supposed to be an even merger, Daimler-Benz was in the driver's seat. Plymouth was phased out in 2001, and the remaining auto brands went on to share platforms and technologies in vehicles that are still seen today. The marriage came to an end in 2007, when DaimlerChrysler AG sold the majority of its stake in Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management. That sale led to a shuffle in management and a new logo.

Economic downturn

A Jeep sits in front of the empty showroom at Premier Chrysler June 8, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The dealership is 1 of the 789 Chrysler dealerships nationwide that are scheduled to close tomorrow. Today the Supreme Court delayed Chrysler\ufffds sale of most of its assets to a group led by Italy\ufffds Fiat. (

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The financial crisis of 2008 cut deep into Chrysler's operations and stability. Late in that year, the company announced a 25 percent reduction in its salaried and contract workforce. Sales fell drastically for all automakers at that time, but Chrysler was particularly vulnerable after having been passed around through mergers and acquisitions over the years. In December 2008, President George W. Bush announced a rescue loan for the auto industry, which included Chrysler.

As part of a reorganization, Chrysler LLC and Fiat announced plans to form a global alliance. The agreement gave Fiat a large stake in Chrysler and led to several months of restructuring. By mid-2009, Fiat had taken a majority stake in Chrysler, and by 2014, the company we all know today had taken shape. In December of that year, Chrysler Group LLC's name was officially changed to FCA US LLC, or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Stellantis

New Stellantis company logo revealed ahead of Groupe PSA-Fiat Chrysler merger

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The next chapter of Chrysler is already written. The company will become part of Stellantis, a megacorporation that brings together the holdings of FCA with those of PSA Groupe. The deal closes in January 2021.

Trending News