In the timeline of groundbreaking icons and over-the-top designs, the understated 1970 Lamborghini Jarama gets glossed over. But it remains relevant for one reason: it doesn’t look pissed off.
The Lamborghini Jarama is not the company’s most famous car, nor its most successful, or fastest, or strangest. It’s not exactly a standout in the same way as the earlier Miura or Espada, and it’s the same story with the later Countach, Diablo, and on and on.
The Jarama is just a front-engine two-door grand tourer with the company’s legendary Bizzarrini V12, like you got in the Espada. The Espada is an eternally-funky shooting brake with room for four people and all their stuff.
The Jarama is the same but in a more normal-shaped body. A mechanic who works on cars of this era called it “generic Lamborghini” in its design, sharing parts down to the same suspension arms as you’d get on a Miura. The comedy of a “generic Lamborghini” meant the car had well over 300 horsepower and could do well over 150 miles per hour at a time when people were still buying brand-new Volkswagens with something around 50 HP. The Jarama is a quick car now; it was in the upper stratosphere of cars when it was new.
What’s funny again is that in spite of all of this performance, the general shape of the car is somewhat sedate. It almost looks like a slammed Buick Century aeroback. The only part of the car’s styling that’s a surprise is the face.
The draw is the four headlights, half-hidden under a set of retractable covers. They actually flip down to reveal the headlight, which is fun and weird. The earlier ’60s C2 Corvette has generally a similar face, but there the headlights were part of the complete flip-up mechanism. The Jarama’s is a bit more strange. Maybe simpler or easier to make.
The lesson in it is not that there’s some obsolete flip-light styling going on here. It’s that this is a high-performance sports car. What it is not is aggressive. Creased. Irate in any way.
It’s relaxed, low key.
In these days of hyper-aggro car and truck designs, it’s like a message washing up in a bottle, a recollection of a different place and time, a beam of light from a dead star.