Lamborghini Marzal Concept

“A Bertone design so fresh that everything else looks old fashioned,” was Road & Track’s opening comment in its July 1967 report on the stunning Lamborghini Marzal show car. Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show four months earlier, the P200 Marzal was the result of a close collaboration between Bertone and Lamborghini. In fact, it was the materialisation of a common ambition shared by Nuccio Bertone and Ferruccio Lamborghini: to give birth to a true GT with comfortable seating for four, offering high performance and redefining the very concept of grand touring.

Suitably named after a strain of fighting bull, the Marzal featured a unique prototype engine developed by Lamborghini that would never see production. It was a transversally mounted in-line six-cylinder which was essentially a rear bank of a Miura’s 3,929-cc V-12, fed by horizontal Weber carburettors and mated to the standard five-speed transmission. The engine was turned 180 degrees compared to the Miura’s layout so that it was behind the rear axle, therefore making it more of a rear- than mid-engined layout. This obviously freed up interior space so that four passengers could sit comfortably. The radiator was fitted right at the rear, which meant the passengers could take some luggage too, as the long front bonnet housed 11 cubic feet of loading space, along with a 21-gallon fuel tank.

The chassis was based on a much-modified Miura chassis, its wheelbase extended by 120 mm to accommodate those extra two passengers. As the overall length was still relatively compact, Marcello Gandini elected to use a pair of long gullwing doors rather than a constrained four-door layout. This enabled him to fit large windows which, combined with a lightly smoked glass roof, helped create a very airy feeling inside the cabin. Bertone helped engineer the air-conditioning system made mandatory by such a large amount of glass surfacing, which totalled 4.5 square metres (48.4 sq. ft.) and was supplied by Belgian company, Glaverbel.

Famously, Ferruccio Lamborghini objected to those doors, in particular the lower windows mounted below the waistline which would “offer no privacy: a lady’s legs would be there for all to see.” Supporting the weight of those hefty gullwing doors when open were a pair of long transverse springs at the rear of the engine bay operated by a pulley and shaft system which relied in part on cleverly-recycled steering column components. The one-piece rear engine cover was hinged at the bottom rear, and for all the glass employed in the cabin there was no rear screen, replaced as it was by a panel made of aluminium slats riveted together. The assembly allowed for rear visibility as well as air circulation to help with engine cooling.

The interior was highly futuristic, with a hexagonal honeycomb theme on the dashboard and centre console housing most instruments and controls. The hexagon theme was carried over even in the general shape of the seat’s cushions and backrests, whilst their trim literally stood out with a highly reflective finish. This space-age arrangement may even have inspired the great French-American designer Raymond Loewy, whose designs for the Skylab space station, developed from 1967 onwards, would rely heavily on hexagonal patterns.

It must be noted that the interior underwent some variations in period, presumably both before and after the car’s unveiling, as elements such as the steering wheel, gear knob, instruments and the trim itself were modified in stages. The configuration of the car as it stands now still dates back to the 1960s.

The Campagnolo magnesium wheels of the Marzal – complete with gorgeous three-eared spinners – were a true masterpiece in themselves, their elaborate, sporting design echoing that of the Miura’s wheels only with added elegance. Even the form of the holes was a continuation of the hexagonal theme seen throughout the interior and on the rear window slats.

The slender nose featured six Marchal quartz-iodine headlamps, likely the smallest available at the time, to fit between the lip of the bonnet and the innovative black rubber bumper. The body was made of steel, with the massive front bonnet crafted in aluminium, presumably to make it more manageable to lift. Styling-wise, the car was full of detail touches which converged to make the shape more dynamic. Note the polished metal sills running the length of the car to make the body appear even slimmer and the perceived proportions even more dramatic. Clever surface sculpting is evident throughout, such as in the way the upper wing’s edge, although interrupted by the large side window, is picked up again above the rear wheel arch, adding just the right amount of volume over the rear wheel and creating a subtle housing for a cleverly-concealed side intake feeding the engine. The lip of the front wheel arch peaked right at the edge of the bonnet, contributing once again to its very slim look. Four years later, Bertone’s chief stylist Marcello Gandini would have the lip overlap on the bonnet altogether for an even more pronounced effect on the Stratos Stradale.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2011 at the Spazio Villa Erba, Cernobbio, Como.

175 bhp, 1964 cc six-cylinder in-line engine, three Weber 40DCOE carburettors, five-speed gearbox, independent front and rear suspension with triangular wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bars, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,620 mm (103.1")

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Tom Wood

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