When the Lamborghini Espada launched in 1968, it was a true gentleman’s express. With a crisp, elongated body styled by Marcello Gandini at Bertone (and inspired by the same designer’s Lamborghini Marzal concept), four seats, and a 3.9-liter V-12 engine up front, the Espada was a high-speed touring machine, capable of crossing continents at triple-digit speeds while cosseting its occupants in a comfortable cabin lined with elegant leather, wood, and metal. This 1968 Lamborghini Espada CHD has a slightly different ethos.
A collaboration by French car enthusiasts Hervé Castagno, the owner of Carrosserie Hervé, and Alexandre Danton, proprietor of Danton Arts Kustoms, this Espada was given a rather unconventional treatment to celebrate the model’s 50th anniversary in 2018. Danton purchased a 1968 Espada donor car and working from their own drawings, the pair went to work creating a one-off customized Lamborghini with plenty of American hot-rod style. The “CHD” designation essentially stands for Carrosserie Hervé Danton, representing the collaboration between the two car artists.
Modern Lamborghini touches are also found throughout this almost Mad Max-style Espada, with genuine Lamborghini Reventón side scoops and a flip-up starter-button cover, as found in the brand’s contemporary offerings. Exposed rivets, satin gray paint, and wild G67 Rumi wheels shod in Michelin tires, along with Alcantara-covered bucket seats and a three-spoke steering wheel, are clever touches. We also like the use of the original Espada speedometer, mounted within a tricolore element on the dashboard. The original tachometer is mounted on the car’s ceiling along with a swath of red, white, and green switchgear. The Espada CHD measures more than eight feet wide, which may make it a bit of a challenge on your typical winding backroads.
True to Ferruccio Lamborghini’s habit of naming cars with bullfighting references, Espada means “sword” in Spanish, and the French builders decided on a reworked rear fender badge design that incorporates a bullfighter’s sword piercing the car’s name.
The Lamborghini Espada was the brand’s most successful model until the Countach (we recently drove one, check it out), selling 1,200 examples between 1968 and 1978, when the final third series car rolled out the doors of the Sant’Agata factory. A market underdog for decades, well-kept Espadas now fetch into the low six-figure range at auction. This wild take on the species could be yours: It’s going up for auction at Mecum’s Kissimmee sale this Saturday. Mecum’s estimate for this one-off custom—which made an appearance at the 2019 SEMA show—is $200,000 to $250,000 or roughly double what a very good stock example would commonly bring.
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