The Silhouette and Jalpa were conceived by Lamborghini’s new mid 1970s owners to tackle the big selling Ferrari 308 GTS head on. They weren’t new cars, instead they borrowed from the Urraco Lamborghini’s baby super car of the early 1970s. But where the Urraco was simple and elegant, the Silhouette was muscular and aggressive; a Targa roofed two seater that was pure machismo. These squared off arches concealed fat Pirelli P7 rubber on flamboyant five hole telephone dial alloy wheels. The fast back of the Urraco was now a tunnel back, with filled in buttresses housing matt black air scoops to provide fussy visual relief where there had once been glass. Lamborghini rehashed the interior in a mixture of Alcantara, toweling and hide, with the usual hotch-potch of cheap switchgear, poorly placed. The engine and transmission were carried over from the Urraco a 3 liter, four camshaft, all alloy V8 mounted sideways ahead of the rear wheels, with the five speed gearbox mounted to the left of the engine in line with the crank. Yielding 250 bhp, it was 30 bhp up on the simpler single cam per bank P250 engine in the original troubled 2.5 liter Urraco.
The Silhouette was revived from the grave as the more powerful 3.5 liter Jalpa in 1981. Its engine was reworked to give 255 bhp and the vehicles had a much improved interior. Like its predecessors, it was a fine driver’s car with strong performance and impressive agility, but troubles at the factory never gave it a chance to succeed, despite a ten year production run. Just 192 were built, compared with 12,000 Ferrari 308s over the same period.