1966 Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 CoupéCoachwork by Touring
Ferruccio Lamborghini's first production car, the Touring-styled 350GT, debuted at the 1964 Geneva Motor Show. The work of two of Italy's most illustrious automobile designers, the 350GT featured a glorious 3.5-litre, four-cam V12 designed by Giotto Bizzarrini fitted in a chassis penned by Giampaolo Dallara. The 350GT's four camshafts and all-independent suspension meant that it upstaged the best which Ferrari offered at the time, but to compete with his Maranello rival's larger models, Lamborghini needed a four-seater, and the 400GT 2+2 duly appeared in 1966. A development of the 350GT, the newcomer used an enlarged - to 3,929cc - V12 engine and featured occasional rear seating together with various detail revisions to the coachwork.
Despite its novice status as an automobile manufacturer, Lamborghini soon dispelled any lingering doubts about its ability to compete with the world’s best Grand Tourers. Reviewing the 400GT 2+2 in 1967, Autocar magazine voted it "better than all the equivalent exotic and home-bred machinery in this glamorous corner of the fast-car market." The relaxed manner of its long-legged performance was reckoned the finest quality of the Lamborghini, whose V12 engine was judged to have the broadest range of smooth torque of any unit the testers had experienced. It was quiet too: "The engine is so smooth and so nearly silent that it is hard to believe that 12 pistons and 24 valves are shuttling up and down just ahead of one's feet." The gearchange, handling, ride and interior comfort were all found to maintain the high standards set by the car's wonderful engine, and Autocar concluded by stating: "To achieve this level of performance without noise, fuss, temperament or drama is an achievement; in the time taken for development, it is nothing short of sensational."
This 400GT 2+2 has a colourful and interesting history which has only recently been unraveled by marque historian Marcel Wallenburg in Holland, whom we thank for volunteering his research.
It has long been believed that this car was sold new to a Middle Eastern buyer, in itself unusual at a time when Lamborghini was virtually unknown outside Europe and the USA. When Kidston SA first consigned this car for sale, enthusiasts noted the existence of a second 400GT numbered '0415', an earlier two seater version, in a US collection. Mr Wallenburg speculated that at some stage an owner might have used the papers of the other car to import this one into his home country without paying taxes. Sure enough, a check in Mr Wallenburg's files revealed that the Touring body number of the car we offer- '18998'- corresponded to chassis '0634' which was bought new in 1966...by the same Iraqi gentleman who already owned '0415'.
It was common practice for Lamborghini- and others- at the time to accomodate buyers wanting to avoid import dues in high taxation countries; several new Miuras were supplied, for example, using the chassis numbers of cars already owned by the buyer and imported into his home country. We do not know if '0634' was re-numbered by the factory before delivery or by the first owner, but we do know that it was already identified as '0415' when imported to France in 1969 and owned by Mr Perez Sotto, an Argentinean gentleman living in Paris. At the time the car was painted light metallic blue (Azzurro Fiat no. A25227) with mustard leather upholstery. The next owner was a Mr Bothorel, followed on 19th August 1981 by a Mr Dumas who registered it '3967 KD 92' and had it repainted in a dark metallic grey, with mechanical restoration entrusted to veteran French Lamborghini guru (and former importer) Edmond Ciclet. On 22nd July 1985 the car was acquired by Dr Philippe Poitout, who re-registered it as '3763 XG 77' and had Mr Ciclet perform further work between 1985 and 1988. This included replacement alternator (80 Amp version); radiator overhaul; adding relays on ignition and lighting circuits; replacement rear suspension arms with improved Miura S versions; fitting seatbelts; refreshing the upholstery and fitting a battery cut-out.
Dr Poitout drove the car until 1997, when its roadworthiness test showed 84,834km. In 2000, after Dr Poitout's passing, his son Vincent fitted a stainless steel exhaust and carried out further work. In August 2000 Mr Jacques Raynal acquired the car (now registered 400 TF 03) and from him, on 26th July 2007 at 87,300km, it was purchased by specialist dealer Autodrome of Cannes, who commissioned an overhaul to include attention to the steering, valves, carburettors, gearbox and electric windows. On 1st November 2007 the car was purchased from Autodrome by the current Swiss collector and Edmond Ciclet was again entrusted to perform a complete check-over: the engine and gearbox were removed; the clutch and head gaskets replaced; electrical system, starter motor and alternator overhauled; chassis re-jigged and reinforced and various other tasks attended to. This work required 15 days of labour and €4,509 in parts.
Following importation to Switzerland (all local taxes being paid!) the car was finally entrusted to Carrosserie Binggeli of Nyon for a complete repaint in a period shade of metallic Amaranto which perfectly compliments the natural leather interior. The Lamborghini has seen minimal use since purchase but, in common with all the cars in the collection, is cared for by a team of full-time specialist mechanics to ensure each and every car is ready at immediate notice when the owner decides to take one out.
This very handsome 400GT is now Swiss registered and offered with a current roadworthiness certificate, history file (containing maintenance invoices) and original factory colour sales brochure. The epitome of stylish Sixties motoring.