Lamborghini concepts are rarely dull and the Lamborghini Calà, Italdesign’s curvaceous yellow wedge, was never designed to be subtle. With a V10 screaming out between 370 and 400bhp (depending on who you ask) it had a fair helping of power for the early 90s, but not industry-leading.
Bear in mind the suit-wearing Wokingers were putting together the McLaren F1 with over 50% more power in those days, it’s easy to assume the lello Lambo was more of crowd-maker at motorshows than racetracks.
However, with a pair of rear seats it turns out the excuse behind its creation was to replace the aging Jalpa, something which actually took a further ten years and the introduction of the best-selling Gallardo for Lamborghini to achieve. Indeed the designers themselves describe the Calà as ‘a high-performing sporty saloon designed for daily use and created for standard production’. I guess that, then, is what the Gallardo did in its own way.
The Gallardo went on to be the best selling car Lamborghini ever made, but maybe its association with VW group and the subsequent build quality and reliability improvements (plus a tamer 4wd layout) helped much more than the way it looked. Dare I say that although the Gallardo was quite a plain design compared to the Calà, it offers much more of that sense of solidity that an every day car needs? You decide.
So why was the Calà designed to be so flamboyant? Despite the need for usability Italdesign’s big name designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro, knew that it needed to be exciting and that it’d be the flamboyance of the Calà design rather than the drag coefficent or specific displacement that was going to make headlines, and headlines were the aim of the day. And boy did he do a great job. Even if Lamborghini never sold an example of the Calà it certainly helped keep flamboyant Italians in the right place – on the walls and shelves of young petrolheads, and that’s what attracted VW after all.
This design is now 20 years old, and maybe starting to show its age. But at the time it looked like something from the future. Could the same be said of modern Lamborghinis?