Our classic car tribute continues this time with a more upscale and exclusive sportscar, Lamborghini’s first ever production model, the 350 GT / 400 GT. Story has it that back in the early 1960s, Feruccio Lamborghini was so disgruntled with his personal Ferraris that he decided to build his own line of supercars. At the time, most thought that Lamborghini was foolish to even think that he could rival Ferrari but the strong-willed Italian who had amassed a large fortune through his successful Lamborghini-branded tractors as well as from other businesses, was to prove them wrong.
For the development of the company’s first project Lamborghini hired Giotto Bizzarini who had designed some of Ferrari’s most recent engines along with two young but extremely talented engineers, Giampaolo Dallara and Giampaolo Stanzini. As for the vehicle’s styling, the vote went to ex-Bertone designer, Franco Scaglione who had was responsible for many Italian masterpieces such as the Alfa Romeo B.A.T.s and the Giulietta Sprint.
The combined efforts of this talented team of petrol-heads lead to the creation of the Lamborghini 350 GTV concept car that made its world debut at the Turin Auto Show in November of 1963. The two-door, two seater prototype with its seductive lines featured a Bizzarini designed 343HP 3.5-liter V12 engine mounted on the front axle that sent power to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox.
At the Geneva Salon in March 1964, Lamborghini presented a near production variant called 350 GT with the final version following a few months later at the 1964 Paris Auto Show. Compared to the 350 GTV prototype, the production 350 GT’s styling was toned down by Carrozzeria Touring of Milano which was also responsible for building the car.
The most notable change on Scaglione’s original design was the overhauled front-end that lost its shark-like nose and pop-up headlights. Seeing the two cars today, we reckon that Lamborghini should have left Scaglione’s work intact.
Underneath its elongated hood, the 350 GT featured the same 3.5-liter four-cam V12 engine as the prototype tuned to deliver an output of 280HP at 6,500 rpm or 320HP at 7,000 rpm on special demand, and 325Nm or 241-lbs/ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. According to Lamborghini’s official figures, the 320HP 350GT could accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h (62mph) in 6.8 sec, to 160 km/h (100mph) in 16.3 sec and go on to a top speed of 250km/h or 155mph.
From 1964 to 1966, Carrozzeria Touring had built a total 120 cars, 23 of which were updated with Lamborghini’s revised version of the V12 engine sporting a displacement of 4.0-liters with the same output but more torque (385Nm instead of 325Nm). For those that like details, the Italians also built two drop-top Spyder versions of the 350 GT.
1966 saw Lamborghini presenting the 350 GTs replacement called 400 GT. As you may have already guessed, it featured the updated 4.0-liter V12 with 320HP at 6,500 rpm and 375Nm or 276-lbs/ft of torque at 4,500 rpm, as well as a new five-speed gearbox designed in-house by Lamborghini.
But those weren’t the only change as the 400 GT featured a different body from the 350 GT with a longer wheelbase that helped add another two seats behind the front passengers making it a 2+2 seater.
A quick look at Lamborghini’s books reveals that the 400 GT accelerated from zero to 100km/h (62mph) in 7.5 seconds and to 160km/h (160mph) in 17.8 sec while achieving a top speed of 270 km/h or 168mph. Production of the 400 GT stopped in the summer 1968 with a total ‘output’ of 250 models.
Even though the 350 GT and 400 GT didn’t quite manage to bash Ferrari, they did create a name for Lamborghini and ultimately, paved the way for the creation of one of the most exotic and sought after supercars of all time, the 1969 Miura which established the firm as an exotic supercar maker.
Lamborghini 350 GTV Prototype
Lamborghini 350 GT
Lamborghini 400 GT