Rarely has a car defined a category as much as Lamborghini has defined the supercar. The stunning Miura paved the way in 1966, and the 1973 Countach set the template for all supercars to come. For Ferruccio Lamborghini, founder of the car company that bears his name, those mid-engine legends weren't really his style. In fact, his favorite Lamborghini is probably the most obscure car to come from Sant'Agata Bolognese.
In a with Thoroughbred & Classic Car, Lamborghini revealed that his favorite car was the Jarama, the front-engine 2+2 Lamborghini built from 1970 to 1976. You'd be forgiven if you forgot this car existed because only 328 examples were built, which is rare even by Lamborghini standards. Lamborghini then explained why the Jarama of all the cars to wear his name was his favorite:
"I preferred the Jarama to all the others, because it is the perfect compromise between the Miura and the Espada. The Miura is a sports car for the young at heart who want to go like hell and love to be seen. Myself, I considered the Miura too extroverted after a while. In turn, the Espada was my Rolls-Royce: still quite fast, but also large and comfortable. The Jarama is the perfect car if you just want to have one car."
If you know about Lamborghini's story, his reason for preferring the Jarama shouldn't be too surprising. After having made his fortune in tractor building, Lamborghini in 1963 after being repeatedly ignored by Enzo Ferrari. Lamborghini felt Ferrari's cars were too unrefined for road use–and indeed, Enzo is known to have built road cars simply to finance his racing ambitions–so he set out to make a true luxury grand tourer.
Lamborghini's first car, the 350GT, reflected his sensibility perfectly. It was a refined, comfortable cruiser with a powerful V12 designed by Giotto Bizzarini, a former Ferrari engineer. The Miura, the car that arguably put Lamborghini on the map, was for Bizzarini and chassis engineer Gian Paolo Dallara. Ferruccio because he thought it'd be a good halo for the brand, but he didn't think it would sell more than 50 examples.
Of course, the Miura and its successor, the legendary Countach, came to define the brand to this day. Those cars share a badge and an engine with Lamborghini's early grand tourers, but they sort of represent everything Ferruccio didn't want to build.
Lamborghini still continued building big GT cars until 1978, six years after Ferruccio left the company. The Jarama was the successor to the Islero, which was the sportier alternative to the big Espada. It used a 4.0-liter version of Bizzarini's V12 that produced a very potent 350 horsepower in the standard Jarama and 365 horses in the later Jarama S. The chassis is based on the Espada but 10.7 inches, and styling was done by Marcello Gandini, who also designed the Miura and Countach.
Like the 350GT/400GT and the Islero before it, the Jarama was a comfortable, well-appointed 2+2, with enough power to hang with real sports cars. Disc brakes, independent suspension, and a five-speed gearbox came standard, though an automatic was an option. Top speed is said to be around 160 mph, a respectable figure for the day. Of the 328 built, 176 are the standard Jarama, and 152 are the Jarama S.
For one reason or another, the bigger Espada, which could comfortably seat four, vastly outsold the Jarama, with the latter being relegated to obscurity compared with Lamborghini's famous mid-engine cars. It's funny to think that the cars Lamborghini is known for–raucous mid-engine supercars–are almost the opposite of the cars Ferruccio himself wanted.
So even though the Countach is Lamborghini defined, the Jarama was the one that had Ferruccio's heart.