1969 Lamborghini Islero
Year of manufacture1969
Number of seats2
1969 Lamborghini Islero S Coupé
Registration no. YLR 11G
Chassis no. 6432
Engine no. 2988
'This may well become the nicest to drive and the most consistent in behaviour of all Lambos.' - Car magazine on the Islero.
Launched at the Geneva Salon in 1968, the Islero was a development of the 400GT 2+2, which was itself derived from Ferruccio Lamborghini's first production car, the Touring-styled 350GT of 1964. Launched at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show, the 350GT was the work of two of Italy's most illustrious automobile designers, featuring a glorious 3.5-litre, four-cam V12 designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, which was housed in a tubular chassis penned by Gianpaolo Dallara. The 350GT's four camshafts and all-independent suspension meant that it up-staged the best that Ferrari offered at the time. After a slow start production soon picked up, 131 350GTs being completed before the arrival of the 400GT and 247 of the latter before it was superseded by the Islero.
The Islero's square-tube chassis was based on that of its predecessors, though with wider track to accommodate fatter rubber, while its elegantly understated coachwork was styled by ex-Touring personnel led by Mario Marazzi. The model was named after the legendary bull that killed Spain's best matador, 'Manolete'. Housed beneath an impressively low-slung bonnet, Lamborghini's 4.0-litre V12 engine was carried over from the 400GT and produced 320bhp initially, 350bhp in later Islero S form. The latter appeared in 1969 and could be distinguished by its flared wheelarches, vented front wings and a revised interior with more supportive seats and improved instruments and switch gear. Improvements were also made to the suspension and brakes.
Car magazine's test Islero achieved a true 157mph back in 1969, proving to be as quiet and stable at its maximum as at 130. It was also startlingly quick off the mark, hitting 60mph in 5.9 seconds and hurtling to 100mph in 13.7, outstanding figures even today. Around the Neapolitan back-roads the Islero demonstrated an agility and sureness of foot which belied its role as Grande Routière. Despite an impeccable pedigree, the Islero, 225 of which were manufactured between 1968 and 1969, is today the most overlooked of Lamborghini's early front-engined cars.
One of the 100 more powerful Islero S models built, this example was driven by Sir Roger Moore in the motion picture, 'The Man Who Haunted Himself'. A cult thriller released in 1970, it was Moore's last movie before taking over from Sean Connery as James Bond and is considered by many - Moore included - to be his best work. He played both Harold Pelham, a conventional city businessman, and his doppelganger, an urbane Bond-like individual. The latter drove this Islero, which served as a powerful representation of Pelham's alter ego throughout the film.
Reunited with 'his' Islero a few years ago, Sir Roger autographed the sun visor, the original driver's handbook and a special plaque, all of which come with the car. Also included in the sale is the original factory invoice, a photographic record of the restoration (see below) and a letter from Lamborghini's legendary test driver, Valentino Balboni, confirming that '6432' is the car used in the movie.
The factory invoiced right-hand drive chassis number '6432' on 31st March 1969, the build details showing that it was finished in Azzurro Blue metallic with grey Connolly leather interior. The UK sales invoice, dated 18th April 1969, was for £8,440, which included the 'S' engine and air conditioning. Registered 'YLR 11G', the Lamborghini was first owned by Clifford Johnson, who sold it to racing driver Paul Weldon shortly after the movie was completed. Its next owner, Phillip Richards, kept the car for 13 years.
In 1986, the Islero passed into the ownership of Brian Power, who despatched the car to Gantspeed Engineering where it underwent a no-expense-spared restoration at a cost of almost £100,000. Ferrucio Lamborghini had driven an Islero, and Mr Power decided to have his refinished in that car's colour scheme of silver with Burgundy leather trim. '6432' was next owned by a wealthy collector, who consigned the car to climate-controlled storage for some 20 years before selling it in 2007. Re-commissioned by Brian Classic, the Islero was test driven by Martin Buckley for Classic & Sports Car magazine (July 2008 edition), who proclaimed it 'the best Lambo of the lot.'
The current vendor purchased the Islero from Graeme Hunt in 2012 and has been looked after by Colin Clarke Engineering and wanted for nothing. The car remains in beautiful condition; the sumptuous leather interior is superb and still retains its original Blaupunkt Blue Spot radio in working order, while the provision of modern adjustable shock absorbers means that the ride is even better than when the car was new. Offered with assorted paperwork, V5C registration document and fresh MoT, '6432' represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire a matching-numbers example of one of these exclusive, limited-edition early Lamborghinis - driven by Sir Roger Moore - benefiting from a superb restoration.