I recently wrote a review of the Lamborghini Espada, which I called the weirdest Lamborghini ever made. But I think I was wrong: The Lamborghini Jarama is, quite honestly, even weirder, and today I’m going to show you exactly what I mean. See the used Lamborghini models for sale near you
To start, I reviewed this Jarama courtesy of Tomini Classics in Dubai, which has an amazing inventory of exotic and vintage cars. They offered me the chance to drive basically anything in their inventory, and I chose the Espada and Jarama because, quite simply … I’ve always wanted to know. And now I know.
Specifically, I know that the Jarama is almost radically ugly. From the outside, it looks like any other 1970s hatchback, but I truly believe that if you asked any random observer what brand created this vehicle, not one single person would ever guess it’s a Lamborghini. Ever. The hatchback shape, the oddly short wheelbase, the huge rear overhang — it just doesn’t scream Lamborghini. None of it does.
And yet, this Lamborghini screams. I’ve driven a lot of exciting exotic cars over the years, but few sounded as magical as the Jarama. It truly sounds like the thing is qualifying for LeMans, even if you’re just going 20 miles per hour, even if you’re just sitting at idle. It’s almost too loud to carry on a conversation inside. But unlike in a Jeep, where that’s the case due to wind noise, in the Jarama it’s because you’re too busy listening to that glorious engine note.
So, fine, it’s ugly but it sounds great. What about the rest of it? Well, the rest of it is absolutely crazy. It almost seems like it was designed by people who had never previously been in an automobile.
Some examples: The car is absolutely filled with cryptic buttons and switches, some of which truly make no sense to me; you’ll have to watch the video to see what I mean, but one button appears to show a warm cup of soup, and another shows a heating coil inside a bottle, which sort of seems like the rear defroster, except there isn’t one. There’s also a randomly placed dial that displays a music clef and note, and the window switches don’t show what they do; there’s just an arrow pointing to whichever window they control. In between the window switches, there’s another cryptic switch with arrows pointing up and down.
The entire interior layout makes no sense, too. The radio is not in the center control stack, but rather in the center console, and it doesn’t face the driver; the driver instead must basically turn around to look at it. Many of the switches and controls for the vehicle are placed between the steering wheel and the gauges. Many controls are unlabeled and appear to have no function.
And yet, in spite of all these bizarre placements and layouts, the button for the windshield washer fluid simply says “PRESS FOR WASHER.” And, even stranger, the button for the hazard lights doesn’t use a symbol — even though every other button does, and even though there’s a well-known symbol for hazard lights — but rather it says “EMERGENCY FLASHERS”… upside down.
But, anyway, the driving experience. Driving the Jarama was surprisingly difficult, because — even though it was intended to be sort of a practical, 4-seater Lamborghini — the driving position is a huge challenge. I barely fit inside the car, with no room to turn the steering wheel past my thighs. A panic swerve wouldn’t have ended well.
Otherwise, the Jarama felt much like you’d probably expect a 1970s Lamborghini to feel: It felt like it would’ve been fast for its time; it felt like it would’ve handled reasonably well for its time; and it felt like it would’ve been a hoot to drive for its time. In today’s world, it would probably be outgunned by a V6-powered Toyota Camry.
But never mind all that, because the Jarama has one huge benefit over the Camry — namely, the engine sound. It’s just unendingly amazing. I mentioned it before, but when you’re covering the driving experience, it’s worth another mention, simply because it’s such a huge part of the Jarama experience when you’re behind the wheel — or when you’re behind the Jarama. It’s so loud and so aggressive and so angry; it sounds like the kind of engine noise they dub in to race cars in 1970s movies to show how fast they’re going.
In the end, the Jarama is, quite possibly, the most bizarre and ridiculous Lamborghini ever made. Nothing about it makes sense: It was built when Lamborghini was already making a V12-powered 4-seater, the Espada, and yet they just … made another one. But it’s less practical and less comfortable. It’s faster than the Espada, but the interior was apparently arranged with the logic of airplane crash debris. Nothing makes sense. And this is sort of why I love it: The world is well aware of the Lamborghini Miura and the Countach and the Diablo, but few know the Jarama. It’s the Isuzu VehiCROSS of Lamborghinis — the GMC Envoy XUV of 1970s vintage Italian cars. And to me, that gives it a leg up over the “regular” stuff. Find a used Lamborghini for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.