Ferruccio Lamborghini’s first sports car was based on a chassis design by the young Gian Paolo Dallara, who had apprenticed under Carlo Chiti at Ferrari before moving on to Maserati under the direction of Giulio Alfieri. This impressive résumé brought tremendous technical expertise and imagination to the innovative designer’s capabilities, and the first Lamborghini’s chassis appropriately featured a race car-like frame of steel tubing. Specifications were inspired by racing machines and included independent front and rear suspension and four-wheel disc brakes.
The new car was clothed in a body penned by Franco Scaglione and debuted at the Turin Motor Show in 1965. Just two examples of this 350 GTV prototype were produced before Lamborghini realized a few tweaks would be required for sales success. The V-12 was slightly detuned, and the top-feeding racing carburetors were relocated in favor of sidedraft Webers, which significantly lowered the hood profile. Touring of Milan was commissioned to create new aluminum coachwork, and the company built a masterpiece of Italian GT design in their Superleggera construction technique, with a long front hood and short rear deck meeting in a small fastback cockpit that was swathed in the finest interior amenities.
Introduced at the 1964 Geneva Salon, the 350 GT was both aesthetically arresting and mechanically powerful, capable of a top speed of 165 mph. The high degree of luxury and finishing immediately prompted customer interest, and Lamborghini began selling cars to some of Italy’s most well-heeled motoring sportsmen. Just 131 examples of the 350 GT were built at the new Lamborghini factory in Sant’Agata over the next three years, before the model was phased out in favor of the mildly redesigned 400 GT. Several of the later 350 GT examples were upgraded to 4-liter specifications early in their lives, giving them a deceptive amount of power and slightly blurring the delineation between the two models.