My Car Quest

September 19, 2021

A Chevy Powered Lamborghini Espada

by Mike –

I posted recently about Our Newly Acquired Lamborghini Espada and received several comments. One comment was from David Lang who mentioned his series 1 Espada with the early dashboard – and a GM 350 engine!

I’ll bet you have never seen a Chevy powered Espada!

Lamborghini Espada

I asked for photos and David was kind enough to send these photos along with the note below.

Lamborghini Espada

Thanks for the invite to send photos of my 1970 series 1 Espada.

This is the “Lamborghini Espada with a Corvette motor” that I purchased from Gullwing Motors about five years ago.

A new GM 350 with Tuned Port Injection crate engine (no numbers) was installed along with a Borg Warner five speed transmission many years prior to my purchase. The car retains all original and working gauges, exhaust, running gear and other equipment original to the car. Also, the car was otherwise complete except for the engine and transmission.

Lamborghini Espada with Chevy engine

The car, however, came with a major problem which probably lead to its sale. The engine, designed for use with serpentine belts, came with regular V belts. As a result of this mismatch the water pump was running backwards and the car overheated after a few miles of driving.

Lamborghini Espada with Chevy engine

After this discovery I replaced the pump with an older model and problem solved.

David Lang

This is a beautiful Espada and when the hood is closed you can’t tell it does not have a Lamborghini V12!

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada

 

 

Lamborghini Espada

Summary
A Chevy Powered Lamborghini Espada
Article Name
A Chevy Powered Lamborghini Espada
Description
This beautiful Lamborghini Espada is powered by a Chevy small block engine.
Author

Comments

  1. Robert Cumberford says

    A great many very good cars should have this magic ingredient. I’ve been in Jaguar sedans, Rolls-Royces and other unreliable cars fitted with Chevy V-8s, resulting in reliability, good air conditioning and great style. One memorable week in Texas I was a guest in a Rolls as built, and we were all asked to roll down the windows at stops to keep the engine from overheating. I also went for a hamburger with John Radovich of John’s Cars in Dallas in a Rolls that same week. His conversion worked just fine with the Chevy, including the A/C. John has put Chevys in numerous fine cars with beautiful envelopes and very shaky powerplants. Twenty years ago he was talking about transplant in a Porsche 928, but I don’t know if he ever did that. The cost of a crate engine is always just a tiny fraction of the rebuild cost of an exotic engine. His first swap was a Dodge slant six in an XJ for this sister, which solved all her problems.

    Purists hate this approach, but I strongly approve it. Drive something gorgeous every day without stress or worry. What’s not to like? Just don’t open the hood for those who disapproave

  2. Thomas Ollinger says

    Wow. A Lamborghini that you can tune up with parts from Pep Boys. And it should be pretty fun to drive. If it hasn’t happened yet I would expect to see LS super motors transplanted into cars. That would be very exciting.

  3. Charles Lamberta says

    Iso did from the get go and instead of having an unreliable beauty you had a car you could drive, and if it needed service simple and reasonable.

  4. Wallace Wyss says

    There will be those who lambaste someone who puts in a domestic engine
    but in my research for my Incredible Barn Finds books I found many examples of Ferraris that had
    a Chevy in them for a period of time. You have to look at it this way: that owner is saving the car for some future owner who may restore it At least we, the spectators, get to see that shape out on the roads.

  5. Rob Krantz says

    After having a “hybrid” Triumph Stag with a Ford 302 and 4 speed top loader shoe horned into it, which still overheated (!) and was a nightmare car from hell, my days of becoming a purist began. I swore that one day I would own a “stock” Stag. Many years later I acquired one and it gave me years of pleasure, never overheated and was one of the most reliable cars I’ve owned. That was because I cared for it and maintained the car. The issue with many cars like the Stag, Jaguars, Rolls etc. is that people don’t maintain their cars as appropriate, and while some foreign cars require more fettling than American cars, they can be very reliable if cared for the right way. Many times it isn’t the power plant, but the electrics that let a car down. Knew a guy with an XJ6 transplanted with a Chevy V8 and he still had issues due to faulty electrical components. The V8 might give more of a kick in the pants and may make a car more reliable sometimes, but IMO, destroys the original character of the car as well as its value. Of course, there are many a desirable car with an American V8 in them (Iso Grifo, Jensen Interceptor, Sunbeam Tiger, Mangusta, Pantera, etc), but these cars were engineered by the factory with these engines in them and are desirable and wonderful cars as such. The AC Cobra, of which I own one like Mike’s, was a joint effort by AC Cars, Shelby and Ford back in the day and by AC and Ford 20 years later and are also an example of a car engineered for the powerplant. Not to rain on anyone’s parade but I say keep ’em original or restore them back to original specification with tasteful mechanical upgrades that might aid in reliability.

    • Ac’s were not originally designed with a ford v-8, they are a factory swap like you said by ac,ford and Shelby. It doesn’t seem to affect the value as much, haha!

  6. raffi minasian says

    The engine is not the soul of a car, the driver is.

    • I think the execution on this car is excellent and will likely be a joy to drive, while I would miss the sound of the V 12 I sure would not miss the maintenance aspects and expense of the all original car… as driver it would give you all the bang for the buck and likely be just as fast… As a properly sorted car there should be no over heating issues as there is plenty of room in that engine bay for a huge radiator and it gets plenty of airflow through that generous grille opening. AC should not be an issue either… People forget that the original meaning of Hybrid was European cars with American drive trains… Yeah I like it…

  7. Any Rolls that overheats has not been properly and regularly maintained.

    I took my ’68 Shadow with 287,000 miles around Willow Springs Raceway on a 100 degree day with 5 passengers and the AC and stereo going full blast; 3 laps. The temp gauge barely budged, and we drove it there and back from Orange County.

    I love Chevys too, but a Chevy small block is not the answer to everything!

  8. Thank you Charles, Iso made the same car essentially with a chevy a couple of years and then a ford v-8 a couple of years. Evidently they were engineered for American v-8s or Italian v-12s

  9. Was the Iso the same chassis as the lamborghini or does it just look like it is because the same man designed both? I was under the impression it was the same car, like a camaro/ firebird f body. Either way it is still a beauty, and those L98’s have deisel-like torque, although I like the sound of those v-12s

  10. Thank you so much Mike, I had heard somewhere they were the same car but I was never sure if they really were or like you say Bizzarinni designed them both and that is why they look so similar. Learn every day. Beautiful car no matter what the power is supplied by, although I would have better results maintaining the chevy 350! Thanks sgain

  11. By the way, wasn’t the Iso named after the owners wife?

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