Lamborghini proved it could make a luxury touring coupe that few would buy, not Ferrari with its first production car, the 350GT. Based on the practically undriveable 350GTV prototype, the 350GT eventually grew and matured into the very similar 400GT we showed last time.
When it debuted, the 400GT was just a 350GT with a bigger engine, as the planned roof modification to turn the 2+1 into a 2+2 wasn’t ready for production. Lamborghini advertises the 350, 400 and 400 2+2 as three separate models, which is an interesting interpretation of the truth. But after three variants of the original 350 design, it was time for some new designs. The replacement process was not without drama.
With the 400GT in the late stages of its short production run, Ferruccio looked for a replacement. The new car will be in the same front-engine V12 segment as its predecessor, and will serve as a healthy balance to the mid-engine Miura. Lamborghini thinks the Carrozzeria Touring deserves the design job because they’ve done a great job of turning the static-display 350GTZ into a functional car. Touring’s patented Superleggera construction method is important to Lamborghini because it reduces the nemesis of performance coupes: curb weight.
In 1966, Lamborghini contacted Touring for a new design. Touring was more than happy to accept that the company was in serious financial trouble. To save development time and cost, their new concept is based on the company’s current 400GT, which Touring simply stripped of its body.
Lamborghini asked for something new, Touring accepted the order Very seriously. In fact, they ditched the coupe body style very seriously in favor of vulgar shooting brakes. In the early ’70s, the body shape had sharp creases and sharp edges. Visual weight is in the middle and rear of the new car, as the shorter hood places the engine further aft in the chassis.
The largely smooth hood is narrowed by pleated fenders, which have a solid leading edge and an extra character line that results in a faded trapezoid-covered headlamp. Below is a smiling empty grille, adorned only by a thin strip of chrome on the bumper.
There are only a few details on the side of the new shooting brake, like the gills on the fenders near the fast A-pillars and the trim strips around the wheel wells that form the lower rocker panels. The thick B-pillars behind the doors are also adorned with gills, visually separating the passenger space from the large cargo.
From there, the roof slopes down and meets the side character line to form the lower edge of the tailgate. The hatch itself has two visible hinges on the roof, and is narrow overall as it doesn’t include the rear clip that holds the brake lights and bumper.
The hatch and rear clip are mostly unadorned, as a pair of simple rectangular (almost British) horizontal lights provide the needed illumination. A thin, wide bumper mirrors the front bumper, suspended above four sizable exhaust pipes.
The interior of the concept car differs from the production 400GT. He simplified the gauges to two large dials in front of the driver and moved the switch to a pod near the shifter for easier access. The 400GT’s switches are arranged in a center console that is almost flush with the dashboard.
Aside from the bold body and interior, the Touring’s design remains below the 400GT. It shares a 2+2 engine, transmission, suspension and brakes. The wheelbase is also the same, at 100.4 inches. The shooting brake shrinks the 400GT’s passenger area and hood, ending up nearly 4 inches shorter at 172.4 inches.
In the 400GT, it’s also slightly narrower, at 67.7 inches by 68 inches. With its faster profile, it’s also lower off the ground, at 47.2 inches, more than two inches shorter than the 400. Body form changes have also reduced weight, as the 400’s 3,245 pounds has been reduced to just 2,866 inches. Touring Concept. It should be noted that this is a fully functional vehicle.
Another reason the new wagon is lighter is its passenger capacity. Although the request was for a new luxury touring coupe, the sedan ditched the 2+2 configuration for a two-seater. Touring has a time-honored name for their new concept: Flying Star II. It’s a throwback to the company-designed sports cars of the 1930s, all written by Giuseppe Seregni and applied to the bare chassis of Alfa Romeo and Isotta Fraschini.
Perhaps Touring’s designers were inspired by Bertone’s bold Miura and wanted another exciting addition to Lamborghini’s lineup. But that wasn’t what Ferruccio was looking for in his 400GT replacement, and the design was immediately rejected. It became the final Touring design because the company that designed the Alfa Romeo 2600 and DB4, DB5 and DB6 for Aston Martin went bankrupt the same year. The brand was inactive from 1966 until its resurrection in 2006 and has remained active ever since.
Since the first replacement for the 400GT was banned, Lamborghini looked into the design of Neri & Bonacini. The bodybuilder built a 350GTV prototype, then built the 350GT’s tubular frame, to which Touring body panels were applied. Due to their familiarity with the 350GT chassis, they chose it as the basis for their design.
This one-off was mentioned at the end of our last article, and its history is a bit muddy. One source said the car was commissioned for an American customer who wanted to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but another source said it was Lamborghini who asked for the design as a potential replacement for the 400GT. In either case, the small company spent a lot of time designing the two-seater and hand-built the all-aluminum body in their bodies.
Neri & Bonacini’s design was very different from the 400GT and opted for a Ferrari-like approach. Wide fenders accentuate a slender hood that ends in a narrow wedge-shaped front end with large, round recessed headlights. The only bumpers are the chrome strips at each corner.
Two-seater, the Coupe has far softer character lines than the Touring design and focuses on the classic organic curves of the mid-’60s safely planted. The B-pillar slopes forward and covers the start of the C-pillar, with a strut on each side. Notably, an anti-roll bar is built into the chunky C-pillar. Between the buttresses is a large rear window that accommodates a spacious parcel shelf.
One result of the rear pillar design is the small trunk lid, which is only as wide as the rear window. Rounded fenders and curved buttresses meet at a nearly vertical rear end with a strong crease around it. The bumper is again split in two and wraps sharply around the rear fenders towards the rear tires.
Although it was on a 350GT chassis, construction began in 1966 and could use the 400’s 3.9-liter V8. A larger engine is used to provide the best performance for the racer design. Neri & Bonacini originally called their car the 400GT Neri & Bonacini, but since that didn’t quite stand out, it was renamed the 400GT Monza.
American customers who wanted to race Monza at Le Mans never received the car: apparently, there was a problem with its racing homologation. After losing its benefactor, the car was shown at the 1967 Barcelona Motor Show. Perhaps it was at this time that Neri & Bonacini free The Lamborghini design was an afterthought, not a direct request from Ferruccio himself.
Lamborghini didn’t like the Monza anyway, and the design was rejected. Just like Touring, their Lamborghini model will be one of the company’s last. Without much work or contracts (Lamborghini switched to another frame supplier with the 400GT), the company founder went his own way. In 1967, Bonacini left to work for De Tomaso and Neri opened a small shop called Motors-World-Machines.
After two rejected designs, Lamborghini thought it would be more productive to hire external designers and have them work directly with in-house staff on group projects.This is a project that will be modified and massaged into a 2.0 version, and this Become Islero. We’ll talk about this next time.
[Images: Lamborghini, YouTube]
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