My Car Quest

December 2, 2021

Lamborghini Espada Values

by Mike Gulett –

Why is the Lamborghini Espada valued so much less than the Lamborghini Islero? They both use the same chassis design, the same engine and transmission, were made at the same time and introduced together at the 1968 Geneva Auto Show. The Islero was designed by Mario Marazzi at Carrozzeria Marazzi and the Espada was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone (I believe a better pedigree). No reasonable person would say the Islero is better looking than the Espada, would they?

Lamborghini Espada

Lamborghini Espada on the streets of Carmel

There were fewer Isleros made yet not enough to make a difference in value and there are likely close to the same number of excellent condition examples of each model still around because many Espadas were used up and not cared for. Out of the 1223 Espadas made (according to Sports Car Market) there are likely only about half still on the road (a guess based on how many I see at concours events, which is much fewer than the Lamborghini Miura or Lamborghini 400GT 2+2). There were 225 Isleros made and probably most are still on the road. So, not very much difference in total numbers today.

Lamborghini Islero

Lamborghini Islero at The Quail

At The Quail, A Motor Sport Gathering in August 2018 in Carmel, Lamborghini was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Espada and Islero and there were eleven Espadas and ten Isleros on display. This could indicate how many excellent examples of each are around.

They both have back seats, which reduces the value to collectors, yet the Espada back seats are actually useful and will hold two real size people. The Islero back seats just sit there and take up space and are likely used only for brief cases, purses and maybe a grocery bag.

Yet the Islero sells for significantly more than an equivalent condition Espada.

It seems to me that an Espada, purchased today, will appreciate and is even a bargain compared to the Islero. And when you compare the Espada to a Ferrari 2+2 from the same period the value potential is even greater. That raises the next question: Why is the Lamborghini Espada valued so much less than Ferrari 2+2 models from the same time period? But that is another story.

A Lamborghini Espada sold on the on-line auction site Bring a Trailer today for $215,000 plus the $5,000 buyers fee for a total of $220,000 to the buyer. I believe this is the highest price paid for an Espada at a public auction in North America.

The Espada like some classic Lamborghini (and some Ferrari) can cost more to repair or restore than the market value so the maintenance history of each example is very important. This example on Bring a Trailer was owned by the same collector for 28 years, had a great record of being maintained and winning awards at local concours events. The history told a story of care and value that resulted in the record price.

Maybe collectors are recognizing that the Espada is under valued and this recent sale on Bring a Trailer could wake up the market to the Espada, as an under valued classic with a unique place in Lamborghini history (the Espada was the sales leader for Lamborghini for many years).

Look for more articles in collector car publications on this subject specifically mentioning this record setting Espada in the coming months and pointing out that Espada values are on the rise.

This reminds me of what happened a few years ago with the Iso Grifo and the Bizzarrini GT 5300.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Lamborghini Espada - photo by Steve Natale

Lamborghini Espada at the Hillsborough Concours d’Elegance – photo by Steve Natale

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Summary
Lamborghini Espada Values
Article Name
Lamborghini Espada Values
Description
It seems to me that the Lamborghini Espada will appreciate and is a bargain in the collector market today.
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Comments

  1. David Beale says

    Totally agree Mike.
    But then, I AM biased, eh….
    [But justifiably…]

  2. A few more built, a little less sporty, a little more daunting to own..?
    That said, many who know the Espada believe the model is the best and most usable classic that the company has produced. A former US importer confimed this to me.

  3. Mike, I always enjoy your articles, thank you. Such an honor to have my Espada to be one of the eleven there and while there I noticed peculiar human to car interactions similar to the Miami in water boat shows I’ve gone to for years. Also I’ve wondered for 30 years or so why there are such irrational perplexing price differences between Islero/Espada/400i – Bora/Testarossa – Ghibli/Daytona/365 GTC and Mangusta/Miura.

    My 2cts, laugh or not.

    A cars rarity/uniqueness/public’s love/factual history/“virginity” always creates higher sales prices. No doubt these cars $worths are relative to their sold price when in a stable market. Yes, this is a male driven and chased after market and most if not all men have always been so confused with the value of all things virgin and competition. You know what I mean; “I bought the first one”, “she hasn’t been touch/changed/modified”, “I am her first”, “matching numbers!”, “I came in first” and so on the references deal with a car story/worth based on its known history and quality of care, how it was treated and does she (the car) create/have/instill a virgin like visceral history and equal patina. More $worth seems to equal that this car has clean virgin like attributes.
    The human/car interactions analogous to the Miami boat show were these. At the 2018 Quail, the Espada owners and others happily hung out around their cars and talked like a family reunion for hours just like the in water sail boat show functions = basically the Espada was like a family member though the quiet one that day. I noticed the Islero line up did not have that group enjoyment, what I saw was every now and then, two or so would stand by an Islero and talk for a short time then disperce just like the in water powerboat people do. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but maybe the Espadas lower price is reflective of it being a part of a certain group who keep them for driving and not for resale but enjoyment and the Islero appeals more to the single person ownership and people who view it from a distance, like the beauty queen that wants/needs to be talked with but the men are too shy/weak to meet her, which always seem to create more of a mystique which could elevate sale price?
    So I spoke my mind, opinions and observations and it looks like I haven’t answered the question why some are worth more than others. Oh well?

  4. Glenn Krasner says

    The Espada actually looks like an “exotic sports car”, as opposed to the Islero, which just looks like a practical, GT version of a Lotus Elan, and rather plain at that. That could explain the difference in values, the difference in perceived attractiveness in the exotic sports car market. Perception is subjective, and perspective is everything with collectibles, be they cars, boats, or antiques. Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

  5. Anthony Olissoff says

    Great observations here. Possibly because the people who hand around Mike’s blog are genuinely car guys, we drive our cars and perceive value in the visceral experience as well as the artistic. Investment collectors are likely to be some of us, but more likely to be doing it for how that makes them present or appear to others. Here in NZ, the highest value collectibles (mostly the more recent type) are seldom driven, yet the greater number who own collectible cars would never trailer those to a show, always drive it there and back.
    As for the Espada, the unloved Lamborghini, it is so polarizing with a ‘love it or hate it’ response, no middle ground. I bought mine sight unseen ex UK. Relatives put in in their apartment carpark while I arranged transport and while I encouraged them to use it for weekend jaunts to country pubs, refused to drive it. They were embarrassed to even have it parked in their spot as it was ‘so ugly’ (and i didnt take offense).
    The number of Espadas broken for parts especially after rust and accidents, probably makes them significantly more rare than Miuras, 400Gst or even Isleros.
    But they are what they are as my wife wisely said, “if you love it, buy it and keep it. If you just like it, leave it”.
    2 cents worth.
    If you can, search for article by Mel Gibson. The Greatest Drive. An Espada from Modena to London in a day.

  6. David Beale says

    Reading other comments since, it would have been nice to have been the, twelfth, would it have been, Espada at the 2018 “fifty years of the Espada” knees-up, but much as the car was accepted by committee the distance was daunting, and circumstances did not allow, and while the car has done less than three thousand Km in my keeping I do agree the cars are more “useful tool than ice queen statue”

  7. As a reasonable person my humble opinion is that the Islero is a much prettier car than the Espada (I am biased..). To my mind the Espada looks like a car designed in the 60s, but with an objective to look like something that would be driven in the 1970s (say by Gerry Andersen of UFO fame). This it clearly achieves, but it suffers now as a result. The Islero looks as if it was designed in the 1960s and has the 60s ‘cool’ vibe as a result. Add to this the scarcity factor (I’ve only ever seen 2 on the road in the UK in the last 30 or so years – The Roger Moore silver one and Garthwaite’s yellow one but I’ve seen a fair few Espadas) and, therefore, to my mind I can see why it commands higher prices than the Espada. I’ll be honest, I prefer the looks of the Jarama.

  8. The Espada is a very exotic looking car, but when it comes to beauty people are polarized by it , this is the simple truth why the value is lower. If the Islero has a fault its not being exotic enough. Its too bad that Scaglione didn’t have a shot at these two His ability to balance a design was genius.

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