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Lamborghini Marzal to be driven in public for the first time in 51 years!

AutoClassics.com logo AutoClassics.com 10/05/2018 David Lillywhite
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The legendary 1967 Lamborghini Marzal concept car is to return to the Monaco Grand Prix track this weekend, the first time it will have been driven in public for 51 years.

The one-off Marzal was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1967. Just a few weeks later, on 7 May 1967, it was driven on the Monte Carlo track by His Serene Highness Prince Rainier III of Monaco, accompanied by his wife, Princess Grace.

It was tradition that Prince Ranieri did a lap of honour on the track just before the start of the Monaco Grand Prix. To the surprise of all present, the car he chose to drive the Marzal, which Ferruccio Lamborghini had brought to Monte Carlo to show during the Grand Prix weekend. That outing was to remain not just the first, but indeed the only time this Marzal appeared in action at a public event.

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Now the Marzal has been restored by Lamborghini’s in-house Polo Storico restoration department, and will make only its second public driving appearance in 51 years. It will go out twice on the Monaco circuit on each of the three days of the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique.

It will be joined by a Lamborghini-owned Espada (chassis 9090), which is thought to have been a company test car, never registered, with some unusual details including side markers for the American market that were most likely installed only for homologation tests before the production cars received them.

Its outing is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Espada, which was launched at Geneva in 1968.

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In some ways, the Espada owes its existence to the Marzal, though Ferrucio Lamborghini had already been planning both a cheaper model than the Miura (which became the Urraco) and a four-seater (the front-engined Espada, as it turned out) to follow on from the success of the Miura, which had been launched the previous year at Geneva.

It was coachbuilder Bertone that instigated the Marzal, again wanting a car that would follow the incredible reaction that the Miura had received – and there's no doubt that the styling of the Espada was influenced by the Marzal.

Marcello Gandini, head of Bertone, had wanted something that would become the star of the 1967 Geneva show, and decided early on that he wanted ‘a four-seater, with a lot of glass, gullwing doors, perfect opening for a four-seater, and a lot of scenic effect’. He consulted Lamborghini engineer Paolo Stanzani, and decided that what was needed was half a Miura engine, the V12 chopped in half and transversely mounted behind the passenger compartment, to allow room for four passengers.

© Autoclassics.com A 2-litre six-cylinder engine block was created – still the only six-cylinder ever produced by Lamborghini. The Miura also had a transversely mounted engine but to make the Marzal’s layout work, the engine had to be turned 180 degrees, which left the gearbox pattern back to front, first gear far away from the driver (remember, the Marzal is left-hand drive). The engine also had to be modified to turn in the opposite direction from the Miura’s.

The car was based on a lengthened Miura chassis, modified at either end, with the front section of a Miura chassis used back-to-front at the rear. It was given a new designation: Type P200 Marzal chassis 10001. The glass area, around four and a half square metres of it, was created by the Belgian company Glaverbel, and the huge gullwing doors made at Bertone, operated using springs, pulley and steel cables, cannibalising steering rack parts.

The new car was shown at Geneva in March 1967, and as was hoped, created a storm. The Marzal – named after a fighting bull incidentally – then made the trip to Monaco, where Ferrucio managed the incredible coup of persuading the Prince to drive it around the circuit.

© Autoclassics.com From Monaco it returned to the Lamborghini factory for evaluation, where legendary test driver and engineer Bob Wallace spent some time setting it up, and Gandini got the chance to drive it around the surrounding areas too. But it still felt long and ungainly to drive, and the six-cylinder engine wasn’t deemed appropriate for Lamborghini.

Still, it was shown on the Bertone stand in October 1967 at the Earls Court London Motor Show, and the following January at Brussels, Belgium – its last public appearance. It should then have been shipped to the USA but instead was impounded at the docks in Genoa, following problems with paperwork and a missing tax payment.

Criminally, it sat in the open air at the harbour for a year. Remember, this was a show car, never intended to be rainproof, and it filled with water – its problems compounded by the salty sea air.

© Autoclassics.com Finally it was moved to a warehouse, where it stayed for several years before Bertone decided to freshen it up to appear in the company museum. It was repainted and received a new steering wheel and gearknob, but it otherwise remained almost unchanged.

And that’s how it stayed until Carrozzeria Bertone was declared bankrupt and its cars sold off to recover debts. In 2011 the Marzal was sold along with other prototypes at the RM Auctions sale in Villa Erba, Como, bought by a European collector.

By this point the steel lower half of the Marzal was seriously corroded (only the bonnet/hood is aluminium). The silver leather upholstery had at some point been recovered and the mechanical parts untouched for around 30 years. It was delivered to Lamborghini for complete restoration.

© Autoclassics.com The restorers managed to find traces of original paint and leather, which helped to recreate the Marzal as close to its original specification as possible.

The bumpers, consisting of many tiny pieces of rubber and leatherette glued and screwed to the metal structures, provided one of the biggest challenges, but there were some wins too – including the discovery of unused Marchal lights to replace the corroded originals.

It was completed last year and went straight to the Lamborghini Concours held in Neuchatel, Switzerland, where it won the Best of the Best Trophy, and also exhibited at the March 2018 Geneva show. Now it is at Monaco, ready for its first public drive in 51 years.

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