Off radar

The Fallen Stars
Baby Lamborghini

The spark of rebirth

Photo credit: Richard Owen, Supercars.net, Wheelsage

Lamborghini’s determination to survive even in the most difficult years can clearly be seen in two important projects, the P140 and the Calà. When the company was absorbed by Chrysler in the late 80s, Lee Iacocca himself asked for a mid-range model to accompany the now-ready Diablo. The completely in-house project was designed by Marcello Gandini, who penned a mid-engined, targa-top sports car with a removable roof, powered by a beautiful 10-cylinder engine. 

1988. Marcello Gandini’s style in the design of the P140 is easily recognizable. The small V10 from Sant’Agata Bolognese

This model, in 1:1 scale, was put into competition with two prototypes, one built by Chrysler and the other by Bertone. Needless to say, it was Gandini’s instantly recognizable hand that prevailed, with its sober lines that were nevertheless deeply connected to the Lamborghini image in those years. Just as everything seemed ready for production, Chrysler sold the company to an Indonesian Group in 1994, which had other ideas and focused all the company’s commercial efforts on the Diablo. 

One of three examples of the P140 exhibited at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2008

But it was not enough, the numbers were too small. The idea of the “small” Lambo resurfaced once again, and Giugiaro was invited to propose a new style on the P140 platform. The Calà was born. Ready for production. The look of the car, which was very different from Lamborghini’s, was nevertheless extremely interesting and very well received. But, once again Lamborghini’s will to survive was thwarted by yet another change of ownership. 

The beautiful 3,961cc V10 engine by the engineer Marmiroli, entirely designed and built in Sant’Agata

Fortunately, this time it was the right one. Audi arrived and from the ashes of the 140 project, the marque’s revival could finally begin. In 2003, the Gallardo was introduced, the car that heralded the rebirth of the car maker.

1995. The mechanics of the P140 reinterpreted by Giugiaro with the car named Calà. Only one was ever produced
Fixed rear wing, generous air intakes and the extension of the windshield up onto the removable roof that transformed the Calà into a targa
Full leather interior, but nevertheless very sporty and well matched to the exterior lines
Harmonious and compact. At just over 4 metres in length, the Calà cleverly concealed the prodigious power of its 400hp, 3,961cc V10 engine
2003. Lamborghini finally has its V10: The Gallardo was launched after the arrival of Audi, while the Calà was destined to become an unexpressed memory of the Indonesian management