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Coachwork by Marazzi
Formerly the Property of Ferruccio Lamborghini
The Islero By 1968, Lamborghini faced a number of challenges. While the dramatic Miura and groundbreaking four-seat Espada had captured the attention of the world, the company needed a successor for the 400 GT 2+2. Carrozzeria Touring, who built them, had gone into receivership. Lamborghini turned to Carlo Marazzi, a former Touring manager who had taken over the company’s assets. Together, they redesigned the 400 GT with updated styling which had the added benefit of being less expensive to build. The result was the Islero. With the four-liter, 320 hp V-12 and its elegant, simple, clean styling, it was exactly the kind of “businessman’s express” closest to Ferruccio Lamborghini’s heart.
This Car In early 1970, Edward Scott of Sun Valley, Idaho, visited Italy and made an inquiry about the potential purchase of a works demonstrator car at the Lamborghini factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese. One can only imagine his surprise on learning that a 1968 Islero, with 4,000 km then on the clock, could be his and that it happened to have been the personal transport of Ferruccio Lamborghini. Mr. Lamborghini’s special connection with the Islero makes it unsurprising that he would choose one as his personal car.
Without benefit of a test drive, but with a personal letter from Ferruccio himself wishing him pleasurable driving, Scott bought the Islero and had it shipped to the US in May, 1970. In a memo, Scott recollects the purchase and recounts his drives in the Lamborghini during the last days of unlimited speed driving in some Western states. “It cruised easily across Nevada at 130 (mph), in 1970, on about 1/2 or 1/3 throttle” he writes, further saying “…you’ll find dead-accurate, zero-play, almost hands-off steering. A sheer delight.”
Scott sold the Islero to Tim Bushnell of California through Claudio Zampolli in 1979. Four years later, the Islero found a new owner, Kenneth Jones of Houston, Texas, who retained the car in his care for a year before selling it to Jim Simpson of Spring, Texas. Simpson carried out a restoration of the Islero in 1989, during which time the color was changed to silver and the interior re-trimmed in red leather. In 1998, Simpson transferred the car to his business partner Vince Whitehead, who sold it in the early 2000s to Paul von Heeder of Houston, Texas. The current owner purchased this very special Lamborghini in early 2009.
The beneficiary of a recent restoration by noted marque specialist Gary Bobileff of Southern California, this Islero presents itself brilliantly. The panel fit and gaps are almost certainly superior to those seen when the car was first delivered and the Celeste Azzurro paint and bright trim is virtually flawless. Inside, the car boasts a unique quilted trim pattern on the seats, central tunnel, and door panels. Only the lightest traces of wear are visible on the soft, supple tan leather surfaces, which seem to invite you in for a fast yet comfortable drive. Under the hood, the finishes appear as impressive as on the outside, with the legendary four-cam V-12 with its six dual-barrel carburetors capped with dramatic red wrinkle-finished cam covers as a dashing accent.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that this engine has seen the benefit of special tuning by the factory to produce even more potent performance than the already more than impressive stock unit. No conclusive evidence has been found to quantify this; however, various previous owners have noted the power and flexibility of this car’s engine compared to other Isleros they have driven.
This Islero comes with the original Italian factory warranty card, original Italian brochure, and an original Italian owner’s manual with an accompanying spiral-bound English translation. Only 125 Isleros were ever built, making them one of the rarest Lamborghinis. Its subtle charms may have been overlooked in years past but anyone who has spent even the shortest time with one today understands exactly what Ferruccio Lamborghini aimed for, and achieved, in this beautiful, capable, and rapid Grand Tourer.