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  •   Harry Metcalfe reacted to this post about 12 months ago
    Getting off lightly
    CAR: 1970 Lamborghini Espada
    OWNER: Harry Metcalfe

    / #1970-Lamborghini-Espada / #1970 / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini

    With the Espada’s engine out and on the bench (see last month’s), it’s time to delve inside and finally discover why it had an unsustainable appetite for coolant and why its crankcase was breathing so heavily.

    First job is to remove the cylinder heads. These have a habit of being sticky on a #Lamborghini-V12 of this vintage but we’re in luck because, when this engine was last rebuilt in the mid-’80s, all the cylinder studs had been liberally wiped in copper grease. So the heads slip off with little effort. It soon becomes clear that both head-gaskets are knackered, which is the cause of all the coolant issues. But instead of coolant leaking into the cylinder, combustion gases were leaking into the coolant passages under compression. That’s why the system was getting overpressurised and coolant was bubbling past the radiator cap. Weirdly, this is good news as it’s an easy fix, but it doesn’t fully explain the low compression readings. So the next job is to remove a couple of pistons. Cylinders nine and ten had the worst leak-down results, so these pistons are removed first. I’m hugely relieved to discover that the big-end shells show little wear, but the less-good news is that as each piston comes clear of the block, the piston’s top compression ring drops to the floor because they are broken in half. The middle oilscraper rings are very worn, too.

    It’s the same story on ten of the twelve pistons: no wonder the engine breather was puffing so heavily at tickover.
    Again, this is actually good news because we have the answers to all of the engine’s ailments and none of the causes are very serious. It looks as though new piston rings were fitted to the old pistons the last time this engine was rebuilt, but either they weren’t matched exactly or the ring grooves in the pistons have worn. Iain Tyrrell measures the top compression rings at 1.55mm thick while the groove in the pistons is 1.66mm, so each ring has been oscillating up and down at high frequency in the piston and eventually breaking up.

    There are no more surprises inside. A bit of wear in the valve guides needs attention, and all the valves had been fitted with rubber valve-guide seals from a Ford Pinto during the last rebuild. These look as if they have been capturing oil and then leaking it down the guide, making oil consumption worse, rather than better as the previous engine builder must have hoped.

    So I’m finding that, far from being the nightmare it could have been, this whole engine-rebuild process is enthralling. The next job is to extract the cylinder liners from the block and send them off for a slight overbore to 88.5mm (88mm is standard). New forged pistons are on order and the beautiful steel crankshaft, milled from a single billet, will be polished and balanced.

    I’ll report back once the rebuild begins but, for now, I’m just happy that the Espada engine is in such good hands. I look forward to its return, probably even better than it was when new way back in 1970.

    From top A big space where the engine used to be; stripdown begins with removal of front-end drives; coolant loss was down to leaking head gaskets but head castings are fine; top piston rings had broken.
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  •   James Elliott reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    ESPADA AT ABBEY ROAD

    Lamborghini has celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Espada by taking a 1976 example on a tour to London. The Series III Espada visited the HQ of the RAC before travelling to Abbey-Road where, 50 years ago, the Beatles recorded Hey Jude at the famous Abbey Road Studios.

    / #Lamborghini-Espada-Series-III / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini / #1976 / #1976-Lamborghini-Espada-Series-III / #Abbey-Road / #Abbey-Road-Studios
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  •   James Elliott reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Diving deep / Running Reports

    CAR #1971-Lamborghini-Espada / #1971 / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini

    Harry Metcalfe

    It seems 2019 is my year to do engine rebuilds. First it was the Alfa Duetto that needed open-heart surgery just before its trip to this year’s Mille Miglia ; then my boat’s engine blew up (an 800bhp, 14.9-litre MAN twin-turbo V8 – don’t ask about the bill); and this month it’s the turn of my Espada engine to be stripped.

    An engine rebuild has been on the to-do list for the Espada ever since it developed a serious addiction to coolant on last year’s Espada 50th Anniversary Tour, but then the budget I’d set aside got inadvertently spent on a Lancia Fulvia Sport 1600 – easily done, as I’m sure you’ll understand – so I put the rebuild off until more funds became available.
    But as the months ticked by, I became increasingly concerned that the wait might be causing more internal damage to the engine, as I didn’t really know why it was consuming so much coolant in the first place. There was no give-away steaming exhaust, or emulsion inside the filler cap to indicate that oil and water were mixing. I needed to know more, so decided to get the Espada up to Iain Tyrrell’s amazing workshop on the outskirts of Chester, which is where I bought the Espada from originally, back in 2012.

    Once it arrived, Iain turned detective and performed both a compression and leak-down test on each cylinder, plus a pressure test on the coolant system. The good news was that the pressure test showed the coolant wasn’t leaking anywhere it shouldn’t, but both the compression test and the leak-down test (where each cylinder is pressurised via the spark-plug hole) showed several pots were below par and losing pressure under test quite quickly.

    The diagnosis was possible headgasket failure and maybe worn piston rings as well. There was nothing for it but to remove the engine for a full strip to find out. This generation of Lamborghini engine is magnificent to behold, with its quad cam-covers, tubular manifolds, all-alloy construction and delicately finned aluminium sump. It’s also a bitch to extract from the engine bay because a) the front oil pump housing hits the front chassis member, and b) the gearbox needs to stay attached, and that includes the chromed gear-lever that constantly gets fouled on the transmission tunnel. Fortunately, Iain has been doing this for over 35 years and makes it look relatively easy. About three hours later he had the engine out, on the bench and ready to strip. Next month, I’ll let you know what we found.

    From top Harry’s Espada rests up during the 50th Anniversary tour in 2018; at speed, in between top-ups with coolant; engine out for stripdown at Iain Tyrrell’s workshop.
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  •   Harry Metcalfe reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    For the fortunate few. #Lamborghini

    This is the #Lamborghini-Espada , one of the finest automobiles in the world. It is owned by very few ... the fortunate few. Because not everyone understands the perfect unity of a finely crafted machine with the ultimate in luxurious coachwork.

    We invite you to own the 4 seater Espada, the lightning 2 seater Miura S, or the all new Jarama 2 + 2. All three, fitted with the world famous Lamborghini V12, are styled and hand crafted by Bertone.

    If you desire quality performance, power and luxury, see Lamborghini’s Big Three. And become one of the fortunate few.

    Contact distributors below for Lamborghini dealership nearest you. Dan Morgan, General Manager Alberto’s & Alfredo’s . Ltd. N.Y. 10019 Bob Estes’ Lamborghini West, Inc
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  •   Harry Metcalfe reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    CAR #Lamborghini-Espada-SIII / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini /

    Run by Martin Buckley
    Owned since November 2012
    Total mileage c34,000
    Miles since February report hardly any
    Latest costs mounting


    EXOTIC ITALIAN BLOWS IT STOP

    There is a cautionary tale here. In a weak moment, I loaned the Lambo to a friend who had dribbled over it for some time. The man in question – Steve Cook – owned a Fulvia Zagato so he was conversant with the foibles of older Italian cars.

    What ensued was a maelstrom of problems and embarrassing scenarios. The Espada got grumpy with Steve behind the wheel and, despite various upbeat conversations and ecstatic text messages, over the weekend of his ownership it began to emerge that the car was not proving entirely dependable. It was spotted broken down all over Stroud, in fact, and, when the time came to hand it back on the Sunday, Steve was ominously late.

    In the end, I found myself alone on a BP forecourt at 2am with the realisation that the car had blown a head gasket. Then there had to be an earnest chat about responsibility.

    Steve pointed out that the water was low when he checked it and that the gasket was probably on the way out anyway. I took the view that it was loaned on a ‘you bend it you mend it’ basis. Being a gent, Steve concurred and we agreed that Jonathan Wills’ engine man Mike Connor would tackle the job. As a gesture of goodwill, I would pay for the gaskets, which I regretted because they appeared to be an obscene amount of cash. And we’d obviously have to do both banks. Connor found that one side had blown and the other wasn’t far off.

    He has since pressure-tested and skimmed one head – it was warped eight thou – ready for rebuild but reports that the rest of the unit looks excellent. Mike found some reasonably priced gaskets, too, so I’ve not entirely stitched myself up.

    An amusing aside is the Bank Holiday weekend that Steve and I spent trying to repair the head with a magic potion called Steel Seal. It is the definition of excessive optimism to think that some gloop in a plastic bottle is going to fix a quadcam V12. But nonetheless we tried, dutifully adding gallons of water, warming it up and watching the engine spew its load and send a river of oily mess down Steve’s driveway to annoy his rustic neighbours. Oh well, it was worth a try. I’m obviously not totally cynical.

    THANKS TO

    Jonathan Wills at Cotswold Classic
    Car Restorations:01793752195

    From top: head gasket on this bank was on the way out, too; new gaskets with blown old one; warped head has been skimmed.
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  •   Harry Metcalfe reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini / #Lamborghini-Espada-Series-III /

    Never let an argument drag on and on – that should be the lesson we all learn from the fate of a late Series III Lamborghini Espada recently retrieved from abandonment in Switzerland. The car was used on Lamborghini’s stand at the Geneva Motor Show in #1978 , then resprayed and used at another show elsewhere in Europe. After that it found a buyer in Hamburg.

    Michael Gross of ChromeCars.de, the ‘automotive archaeologists’ from Jena in eastern Germany who recently retrieved the Espada, explains what happened next. ‘The first owner had never had a 12-cylinder Italian car before and he didn’t treat it properly – he would drive it away quickly, before it had warmed up, and in only 8000km the cams failed. The engine was repaired but there was a lawsuit, which went on and on while the car waited at a garage in Switzerland. Eventually it was moved outside and it was left there for many years, unfortunately with one of the back windows open.’

    ChromeCars got a call about the Espada last year, and having checked the story and found a large amount of documentation to support it, they bought the car. It turns out to be the youngest Espada left, as the two SIII cars built after this one are no longer extant. Gross and his colleagues brought it to Techno Classica at Essen in the spring in untouched condition, but it didn’t quite stay untouched.

    ‘Some people walked up to it and picked off bits of paint with their fingernails. I said, “What the hell are you doing?” and they said they wanted to find out if it was really an untouched rusty car or a fake.’ ChromeCars has also recently sourced and bought the third-ever production Espada and an engineless Series II, to complete the set. The fate of this one? ‘We want to restore it back to original condition, and it will certainly happen sometime. At the moment we think it’s very sexy as it is,’ says Gross.

    LAMBORGHINI ESPADA covered just 8000km before its first owner made the engine go pop. Legal complications meant it was left unloved for many years before it was bought last year.

    Nigel Boothman on a dust-enhanced Espada, a 911 uncovered in Trinidad and some Jowetts in rusty slumber.

    BARN FINDS

    Dashboard has held up to 30 years of neglect fairly well Bodywork seems to have survived time in the wilderness Just in case you didn’t think its barn find status was real.
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  •   Harry Metcalfe reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Andy Everett uploaded a new video
    After 30 years of ownership and one mechanical rebuild, Jay gives his 1969 #Lamborghini Espada a cosmetic restoration and is ready to show you why this car was once known as the Italian Rolls Royce. / #1969 #Lamborghini-Espada / #1969 #Lamborghini-Espada-Series-I
    1969 Lamborghini Espada - Jay Leno's Garage
    After 30 years of ownership and one mechanical rebuild, Jay gives his 1969 Lamborghini Espada a cosmetic restoration and is ready to show you why this car wa...
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  •   Harry Metcalfe reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    STAFF AND CONTRIBUTORS Farewell, my lovely

    / #1970 / #Lamborghini-Espada / Mark Dixon / #Lamborghini

    It’s gone. The beautiful Lamborghini that good mate Richard Heseltine and I bought together, about two-and-a-half years ago, has a new owner. And since he already has a number of classic Lotuses, he’s the perfect guy to take on the responsibility of running an old Lambo.

    Not that the Espada was ever unreliable. It always irked me when acquaintances, on hearing of what we’d bought, would shake their heads sadly and make comments along the lines of ‘You’re a braver man than I am!’ Fact is, the Espada is not temperamental, unlike some exotics. Don’t forget that Ferruccio started out making tractors. No, if Richard and I have any regrets, it’s simply that we didn’t get to use the car enough. The Espada spent ages waiting for work to be done at Cheshire Classic Cars – and, to be fair, I didn’t hassle them, because it was quite handy having it in their nice dry storage unit – and then, just when it was all ready to go, someone came along and made a decent offer… Bugger.

    Even so, we put enough miles on the car to prove its usability, particularly on a road trip to Le Mans Classic in 2014. Despite some horrendous traffic jams en route – when will I ever learn to avoid Rouen? – it never overheated, and the only problem we had was with a couple of wheel spinners working loose. Le Mans winner Andy Wallace lent us the jack from his daily-driver Audi so that we could get home safely.

    After 27 years as a classic car journalist, I was regularly surprised at how much attention the Espada attracted on the road. Stuck in three lanes of gridlock on the M40 one evening, I was distracted by a young American woman who dodged through the lines of stationary traffic to knock on the driver’s window and ask ‘What is this car? I just have to know! It’s so beautiful!’ And, to my slight embarrassment, I was once approached at a petrol station by a schoolgirl who said she had a passion for Lamborghinis… Such is the Espada owner’s lot.

    What sweetened the pill of the Espada’s sale was that Richard and I roughly doubled our investment in just two years. Now, we didn’t buy it to make money, we bought it because we loved (and still love) the car – but it did vindicate the gamble I made in extending my mortgage to do so. At about that time, a Government minister made a quip about people cashing in their pensions to buy Lamborghinis; maybe that wasn’t such a daft idea after all.

    Left, above and right Few cars can match an Espada in full flight for drama; its new owner having his tentative first drive off the delivery truck; Mark, Richard and Andy Wallace (pointing) in Le Mans car park wheel-tightening episode.
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  •   Harry Metcalfe reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    CAR #1970-Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini / #1970

    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.
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  •   Harry Metcalfe reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    In for a spot of sword sharpening

    CAR: #1970-Lamborghini-Espada / #Lamborghini-Espada / #1970 / #Lamborghini /

    OWNER: MARK DIXON

    There aren’t many car restoration shops in the UK where you can find not one or two or three, but four Lamborghini Espadas in for work. That’s how many I counted at Cheshire Classic Cars when I popped up recently to check progress on the car I share with friend and colleague Richard Heseltine. There were about the same number of Miuras, too; proprietor Iain Tyrrell knows these V12 Lamborghinis intimately and it was his company that restored the famous Italian Job Miura that was our cover car in #Drive-My .

    Besides being a Lamborghini expert, Iain is a thoroughly nice bloke, so choosing his company to sort a few jobs on our Espada – which is the silver car on the ramp, above; the gold ex-Australian RHD example has just been sold to a customer – was a no-brainer. There’s nothing majorly wrong (we hope!) but there are a number of minor defects, including a couple that came to light during our trip to Le Mans Classic in 2014.

    Among the most serious faults are the rubbish front dampers. The car would ‘porpoise’ at speed on a motorway yet, should you hit a pothole, the relevant damper would seize solid and send a most appalling crash through the car’s structure. It was so bad that we were afraid it would crack the windscreen.

    Then there’s the exhaust system. The centre boxes are genuine Lamborghini and may have been on the car since new – it has covered less than 70,000km since 1970 – so they’ve started to perforate, while the pipes aft of them have been badly crushed by clumsy jacking. It’s amazing the car has been performing as well as it did, considering the restriction in gas flow. We’ve asked Iain to replace the centre boxes with straight pipes, partly for cost reasons but mainly because we’d like to liberate some more #V12 howl – the Espada sounds just a bit too refined.

    Structurally, the car is in amazingly good condition. It’s had one repaint, probably in the early ’90s, to a very high standard, but there are a couple of rust bubbles on wheelarch lips that need catching now before they get any worse. It appears to be perfect underneath, as the picture, right, of the nearside front inner arch shows, and Iain assures us that it is an extremely good example.

    And that is causing us some heartache. Do we keep the car a while longer or sell it now, in the hope of realising a return on what we paid for it two years ago? Both Richard and I are contemplating house moves this year – different houses; we’re not that good friends! – and money is tight. On the other hand, we’d really like to do a proper European road trip and live the dream.

    Whatever the outcome, it will be a tough decision, because we’re both still utterly besotted with this sexy, fabulous, underrated machine.
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