OWNER Mark Dixon
For me, one of the fascinating parts Of buying a ‘new’ classic car is that moment when you sit down with whatever history came with it, and try to piece together the story of its earlier life.
Fortunately, there’s a thick pile of paperwork for the Espada, which was sold new in Switzerland and remained with its first owner for 15 years. And, thanks to the power of the internet, I may be able to track him down.
The invoices show that the first owner was a Dr Urs Blum, who worked for a family firm of patent lawyers in Zurich. Dr Blum was clearly a man of catholic tastes, because there’s a garage invoice dated 1975 for work on three cars owned by him: the Espada, a Cadillac and a Range Rover!
It turns out that Dr Blum was the Swiss representative of the International Lamborghini Club, too. I know this from a photocopied page Of a book that shows pictures of ‘my’ Espada (I have a 50:50 share with Octane contributor Richard Heseltine) and mentions that it had an exposed metal gearshift gate specially fitted by the factory. Unfortunately, all I know about the book is that it’s in English, the relevant page is 68, and it was published in 1983 – does that sound familiar to anyone?
It took mere seconds to find a website for the Blum law firm, which helpfully provides biographies of the family members. This shows that Dr Blum didn’t retire until 2006, so I’m very much hoping that he’ll still be hale and hearty, and willing to share some memories of his time with the Espada when it was new.
Back in the present, we’re getting very close to fully sorting the car. In last month’s Octane Cars I described how having the front brake calipers rebuilt had almost, but not quite, cured an alarming pull to the right under braking. I felt sure that the residual problem lay with the steering, and I’m now feeling rather smug because it turns out I was right.
MoT tester Simon at the superbly named Sunnyside Garage in Kempsey, Worcestershire, very kindly let me put the Espada on the ramp while he and my classic car fettler Derek Magrath levered at a suspicious-looking steering link that had recently developed an audible ‘knock’. It turns out that the joints at each end are both knackered, which explains why the Espada currently lacks the steering precision I knew it should have. Entirely predictably, the steering link costs an extortionate amount of money to buy new – but Derek is confident that he can fabricate it, once he’s sourced the correct balljoints.
It may be too late to get this done before the dreaded winter salt hits our British roads and the Espada goes into hibernation, but how sweet those first drives in spring will seem.
Above and below Espada has always performed well in a straight line, and hopefully it will soon be just as satisfying in the twisty bits. Former owner Ian Stringer is kindly allowing Mark to store it in his garage, alongside his superb Montreal.