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Most know Lamborghini for its mid-engine, fire-spitting V12 supercars. But when the Bologna-based company set to build a car better than Ferrari, they began with sporty but comfortable grand tourers. Although the company shifted its sights over the years, front-engine Lambos were the cream of the crop for Europe’s jet-set crowd. The street cred was even higher if they had an ultra-rare model like the little-known Lamborghini Islero.

When was the Lamborghini Islero released?

To replace the outgoing 400GT, Lamborghini called on design house Carrozzeria Marazzi to draw up a model. Taking the sweeping lines from the GT series, Mario Marazzi came back with his creation. It had a long hood and a fastback rear end, standing out elegantly in a sea of pint-sized mid-60s runabouts. The grand tourer drew the crowd’s attention at the 1968 Geneva Auto Show, alongside the Espada, as a worthy successor for the young Italian automaker.

Although it was a bit more subdued than its 400GT and 350GT predecessors, it earned an aggressive title. The sports coupe was just the second in Lamborghini’s history to be named after a bull. It was dubbed Islero after a famous Miura-bred bull that killed matador Manuel “Manolete” Rodriguez in a Córdoba ring in 1947.

The Islero went on sale in 1968, and only 155 examples were made. But it was yet another model to help company boss Ferruccio cement his reputation as a manufacturer of high-performance vehicles. In 1969, however, favor for the old Lamborghini fell off, and the company began focusing on performance models. Just 70 Isleros were sold that year, ending production at just 225 units so the company could introduce the Lamborghini Jarama.

What’s under the hood of the old Lamborghini?

The Islero was powered by a 4.0-liter V12 engine, which produced 325 horsepower and was mated to a five-speed manual transmission. In fact, it was the same engine, albeit smaller, that powered each Lamborghini flagship car through the Murciélago. The powerplant aspirated through “sextet of Weber twin-choke carbs,” Hagerty says. It had a top speed of 154 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. But that was the standard Islero; the old Lamborghini came in a sportier spec.

The Islero S model had a few different engine components, including bigger carburetors. That punched the power up to 350 ponies. Whereas the standard Islero was a two-seater, the Islero S was a 2+2 coupe, despite hardly anyone being small enough to sit in the back. Nevertheless, each model rode on classy Campagnolo alloys.

How much is a Lamborghini Islero?

The old Lamborghini Islero is a little-known grand tourer
1969 Lamborghini Islero | Swingandamiss, Bring a Trailer

Given that you’ll unlikely ever see one, the Islero is expectedly expensive. Yet, the Islero typically doesn’t go for more at auctions than the famous Miura built at the same time. says the current market value for the standard Islero places it nearing the $300,000 mark. But the range-topping S has decreased in value, now just south of $275,000. One of the easiest ways to tell the two Isleros apart is that the S variant has non-functional air gills on the side of the front quarter panels, and the standard model doesn’t. But onlookers could just use the S badge on the back as a point of identification. 

Overall, the Lamborghini Islero is a highly sought-after classic collector’s car today. It has rarity, passionate performance, and distinctive Italian styling. Although it’s one of a few Lambos that have fallen between the couch cushions of history, it’s a jaw-dropping sight to see, even if you don’t know what it is.


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