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P140 Concept
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  Lamborghini P140 Concept      

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1989
Numbers built:1
Designed by:Marcello Gandini
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 11, 2008
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Click here to download printer friendly versionLamborghini's line-up consisted of just one model for nearly two decades after the V8-engined Jalpa was cancelled in 1988. The void in the Italian manufacturer's range was finally filled in March of 2003 when the Gallardo was launched. It could have been very different as at least twice prototypes were constructed for a 'small' Lamborghini. For various reasons like a poor economy and new ownership, these never got beyond the prototype state.

The first serious effort to replace the Jalpa was made immediately after its production ceased. It was a busy time in the company's R&D department; the range topping Countach was also due a replacement. Much emphasis was placed on the styling of both new cars and Lamborghini asked various companies to pitch ideas. Eventually the services of Marcello Gandini were selected for both new cars. That was hardly a surprise as Gandini had a long standing relationship with the company and while at Bertone penned most of Lamborghini's most iconic models.

Manufacturers from other countries had bridged the performance gap to the Italians in the 1980s. For Lamborghini to distinguish themselves, they believed they had to combine advanced engineering with superior styling. For the smaller model, Gandini combined influences from the angular Jalpa and its predecessors with the new curvaceous shapes he penned for the Countach replacement; the Diablo. Although not very obvious, the combination of curves and straight lines worked remarkably. Among the more striking features are the shapes of the wheel wells, which follow the lines of the triangular side air-intakes.

Under the carbon fibre body panels the new Lamborghini was even more impressive. The chassis was constructed from bonded aluminium sections, providing both rigidity and light weight. Suspension was by double wishbones all around. The really interesting part was the brand new V10 engine. It was based on the V8 from the Jalpa. Developed in a mere seven months, it displaced just under four litres, had twin overhead camshafts and was equipped with four valves per cylinder. The all aluminium unit put out a very competitive 372 bhp, which placed it well ahead of engines used in similar Ferrraris and Porsches at the time.

During 1989 one example was constructed with the code name 'P140.' The new 'baby Lambo' was not shown anywhere as Lamborghini concentrated all efforts on the debut of the top of the range Diablo. By the time the Diablo roll-out was completed the market had hit a slum and expanding (or completing) the line-up did not seem like a good idea. In 1995 the P140 made a much delayed debut, now clothed in a brand new body designed by Giorgietto Giugiaro. Dubbed the 'Cala,' it remains as one of the most beautiful Lamborghinis ever built. Sadly production was again postponed. This was the end of the P140 project, which deserved so much more. The V10 engine in the Gallardo bares no relation with the V10 in the P140 / Cala.

Today all that remains of the original P140 is a 1:1 styling mock-up. In 2008 it was brought from the Sant'Agata, Italy based factory to California for the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where Lamborghini was the featured marque. Nearly 20 years after its inception, this was the very first and possibly also the last opportunity for the public to admire its lines. There was just one conclusion to draw; the P140 or Cala would have been a welcome addition to the Lamborghini and a most worthy competitor for its contemporaries like the Ferrari 348 or the Porsche 911.

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