Cancelled Cars: Lamborghini P140

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In this installment of Cancelled Cars, we’ll be discussing the planned Lamborghini P140 supercar.

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The year is 1987. Lamborghini’s supercar portfolio consists of two, ageing models: the 13-year-old flagship Countach and 6-year-old entry-level Jalpa. With a replacement for the former already well in development, work commenced on a successor to the brand’s cheapest model.

Codenamed P140, the new model would need to perform similarly to the Jalpa on paper, but boast a bolder look that allows it to stand out from the supercar crowd.

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The task of designing the Jalpa successor was handed over to Marcello Gandini, the renowned Italian designer responsible for the DeTomaso Pantera, Ferrari Dino and Lamborghini Miura. He created a classically-1980s wedge-shaped two-seater, with pop-up headlights, angular body lines and a full-width rear taillight.

Inside, the cabin was a big step up over the Jalpa. Gone were the blocky instruments and upright dash – it was notably more modern, with circular dials, contemporary radio unit and light switches located on the center control stack.

Mounted behind the passengers was an all-new naturally aspirated petrol-fired V10 – a first for the Italian marque. Measuring 4.0 litres in displacement, the electronic fuel-injected unit produced 272kW of power – drive was sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, enabling a sub-5-second 0-100km/h sprint time.

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However, the global economic downturn in the early 1990s led Chrysler executives to cancel the project (similarly to the BMW M8 featured last fornight), as releasing a new exotic car would not be economically viable.

Three prototypes of the P140 were ever built. The first, painted orange, was the only one tested out on the road, and famously hit a speed of 295km/h on the Nardo Ring in Italy. The second example was painted red, but remained a rolling chassis (without an engine) for the entirety of its life. The third prototype, finished in white, did have a complete powertrain, but crashed during testing – however, it was later restored, and now is on display in Lamborghini’s official museum in Sant’Agata.

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The lost red P140.

 

The P140’s spirit and V10 engine lived on in the 1995 Cala concept, also designed by Marcello Gandini, that was shown at the 1995 Geneva motor show.

Fortunately, Lamborghini did go on to build more entry-level models, in the form of the 2003 Gallardo and 2014 Huracan. It’s a shame the P140 never made production – we could have had another modern classic on our hands.

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Above: 1995 Cala concept.

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