Admitted, this advice is probably a little late coming, as prices of the Lamborghini Jalpa have already taken off. But I believe there is more to come.
In most ways, when writing about classic cars, the story being up-to-date and current is of no relevance. After all, history isn’t going to change. The exception is of course when attempting to hand out advice on the state of the market and which cars could prove a financially sound purchase. That’s when you can’t sit on your hands for too long – the prices change constantly and sometimes remarkably rapidly too.
As is the case for the Jalpa. I actually wrote about this Italian sportscar of the eighties already two years ago, but that was over on ViaRETRO’s Danish site. The market has of course seen a few changes since then and I now feel that I really must repeat in English before it really is too late.
For what seemed like forever, it was the forgotten Lamborghini – living in the shadows of the truly classic GT-Lamborghini’s with front-mounted engines, where none any longer reside in the sub £100k bracket. The all-time star among the mid-engined cars has of course always been the Miura, where prices went ballistic a long time ago. And that of course pulled the equally sexy wedge of the Countach with it up the price ladder. The front engined Espada and Jarama were late to the party, but when they finally arrived they did so with bravado. Now all 12-cylinder Lamborghinis are well beyond the reach of most classic car enthusiasts today.
Some may ask: Is there any other type of Lamborghini than those out of reach? Of course there is! The Urraco was Lamborghini’s 8-cylinder rival for the likes of the Ferrari 308 and the Maserati Merak. In a class just below those hard-hitting exotics, but a proper mid-engined sportscar nonetheless. With the Urraco’s crisp Bertone design, it too has experienced increasing popularity during the last handful of years, which has of course influenced Urraco prices northbound.
And then there’s the Jalpa. It’s basically just a reinterpretation of the Urraco executed in the caricatured style of the later Countach with vast wheel arch extensions. The Jalpa was in production from 1981 to 1988 and there’s no denying that it simply screams 1980s in every way. Subtle it most certainly is not!
While there was really nothing wrong with the little sportscar as such (at least nothing which other Lamborghini’s didn’t suffer from too…), that image seemed to limit the Jalpa’s appeal as a classic car. But as we all know, the Eighties have seen a resurrection now. Yet, even without that trend, the huge increase in value experienced by virtually every other classic Lamborghini, would have probably been enough in its own right to pull the little Jalpa from the shadows.
The combination of these two factors have certainly aided the Jalpa in its very sudden rise on the classic car market. The Jalpa has been noted for a mind-boggling increase in value of approximately 140% from 2012 to 2017, during which it doubled in value in 2017 alone (source: Classic Data).
That’s a huge leap, but don’t forget just how rare the Jalpa is: Lamborghini produced only approximately 400 Jalpas, which makes it significantly rarer than its big brother Countach of which we were blessed with more than 2,000 examples. For years, I would never see any Jalpas at all, but at least the recent price hike seems to have brought them out of hiding, as I have come across a few during the past two years of visiting various European classic car exhibitions. Prices seem to be hovering around the £80,000 mark (or just below Euro 100,000), which a quick check with Hagerty’s Valuation Tool confirms should buy you an excellent – but not concours – Jalpa.
Okay, so it’s still hardly flooding the classic car market. With such few Jalpas changing hands, there will always be an element of fault or ambiguity in the statistics. For starters, asking prices certainly aren’t always the same as selling prices. Furthermore, just one or two really well sold or really poorly sold cars can easily skew the numbers significantly when the statistics are based on such few sales in the first place. But the general tendency is quite clear and definitely upward going.
But what struck me as even more important last time I found myself admiring a Jalpa in the flesh, was just how excellent it presents today. The years have passed mercifully over the Jalpa’s design. Or maybe they haven’t, and instead it’s the Eighties that have suddenly become comme il faut, and the fact that its design language and many small details so clearly portray the era from which it was born is now suddenly a both important and cool aspect of the Jalpa.
Granted, that does not apply to the dashboard, which to my eye is both tacky and ugly. But the rest of the Jalpa really does work for me. While the general silhouette of the Jalpa is largely identical to the Urraco, those wide arch extensions lend it a much more masculine and muscular expression. I guess bodybuilding was more popular up through the Eighties as well… It all adds up to make the Jalpa a worthy little brother to the Countach, which I suppose was the whole objective of the exercise.
One could however argue that the Jalpa’s biggest shortcoming lies in its performance not really living up to those dramatic looks. Sure the Urraco’s V8 was bored up to 3.5-litres for the Jalpa, but it still only pushed out a virtually unchanged 250-odd horsepower. To add insult to injury, those wide arches made the Jalpa less aerodynamic while it was also a heavier car, so it’s actually slower than its predecessor. How’s that for progress? A top speed of 234 km/h or 145 mph must have been regarded as somewhat disappointing for a mid-engined V8 sportscar – even in 1981.
Yet now – viewed as a classic car – I can’t help but feel that the outright performance is of less significance. I certainly didn’t give it much thought as I stood there drooling over this Eighties budget-Lamborghini. As I hinted at in the beginning, the biggest issue probably lies in me sharing this tip just a tad late. The next big Lamborghini has already more than doubled in price. But share my views I will nonetheless, as I’m convinced the trend will continue with prices rising even further for the Jalpa in the years to come. It’s comparable with the ever popular Ferrari 308/328, but is much, much rarer. And no, it’s no Countach and it never will be, but it is indeed a real and proper Lamborghini, and the little V8 does in fact present its own virtues over its legendary big brother: It is both cheaper to purchase, and not least cheaper to maintain and service. If you’re planning on actually driving your Jalpa you’ll no doubt value this.
So that’s this week’s top tip: If you are among those with the financial means, find and buy your Jalpa before it’s too late. NOW! It’s already slightly too late – but not entirely.
In a final attempt to make this top tip thoroughly current and up-to-date anyway: This coming week, a Jalpa will actually come to the market when a 1984 example in bright red is being auctioned off in London. It’s LHD, the odometer reads 27,500 kilometers and this is supposedly backed by service invoices over the years. The auction house (not me!) describes it as being in “collector’s condition”, but what that precisely means is unclear. It could be a good ‘un though – and so is its estimate: 50,000-60,000 GBP. As I said: Maybe it’s not too late yet? See the full description here: Lot 116 – 1984 Lamborghini Jalpa
ViaRETRO-bonus information: True to form, I will enhance this top investor tip with an equally top enthusiast tip. Just in case the market value of the Jalpa doesn’t continue its reach for the stars, remember that you will still own a rare and delicious thoroughbred Lamborghini. Buy for the right reasons, and you should always find pleasure in owning and driving such a machine – regardless of value.