Welcome to the 9th semi-annual all Lamborghini Islero newsletter. This issue features Bill Spohn's recent acquisition, Islero #6576, a mid-series "S" car, the 193rd Islero built. It was completed September 25, 1969 and sold to its original owner by the Lamborghini concessionaire in Rome, S.E.A. Automobili. In the '70s it was acquired and imported to California by a new owner, and since this spring, #6576 now lives in Canada. Also, as part of this feature, Bill shares with us his initial experiences with his car and getting it set up in good, running condition.
At least 7 Isleros have changed hands over the past 6 months. Many are being restored at this time and many others are being enjoyed in good running condition. I haven't seen this much Islero activity and enthusiasm since the late '80s just prior to the investors getting involved and the ensuing financial fiasco. Passion for many Italian cars was subsequently dead for years. But now collectors and enthusiasts are re-discovering how great these old V-12s are.
Included here are pictures from my archives of some of the cars that went to new owners this season and a bit about their history. Many people write asking about manuals for the Islero -- be sure to contact Jim Kaminski (address and phone below) as he has reprints of manuals, wiring diagrams, and parts books for sale. Another great source of information is Roman Galysh's Lamborghini List (http://www.lamborghinilist.com/). Also check out the links at the bottom of this newsletter for other clubs, web sites, and services.
As I am trying to maintain this web page for the benefit of all, please keep the info coming. E-mail me at mailto:LuigiDVM@aol.com
P.S.-- To send pictures or information by regular mail, please send them to me at:
This early Islero, #6036, was the twelfth car built. It was completed in April, 1968, and may have been the Geneva show car. It has been reported that Ferruccio Lamborghini gave the car to Bridget Bardott to use. It then went to opera singer Luigi Sutera in Rome. From there, it went to Monaco and finally to England where it is now with a new owner who is maintaining and enjoying it.
#6057 is a another very early series I Islero (the 23rd one built), that was originally sold in Milano, Italy, and then lived in the Boston area for many years. Since 1990, it has been in California and has recently been sold to a new owner in San Francisco. It is black with a black leather interior.
Often pictured in Lamborghini books and distinguished by an unusual air vent behind the front wheels, #6198 has spent most of its life near Detroit. Recently it has been sold to a collector in California. This car won "Best Lamborghini" at the Italian Happening Italian car festival in 1998 and also 20 years earlier in 1978.
Many Isleros were originally sold in Switzerland and many are still there. This one, #6243, is shown as imported from Switzerland to California a year ago, and has now been sold to a new owner in Ohio. It has the standard Miura wheels and factory air conditioning.
Until recently this was a ONE-owner car. It was one of the rare Isleros originally sold in North America, and lived with its original owner in California from 1969 until 1998. This is #6315, a series I car with the original Borrani wire wheels that were an option on the first series cars. Today this Islero is being enjoyed by its new owner in Texas.
Here we have Islero #6342 as it was newly imported into the USA from Spain in the mid-'80s. It still had the wooden blocks taped to the pedals so that the owner, a small Spanish lady of nobility, could reach them. It was reported to have very low mileage when it arrived here by 747, and here is shown in dark blue. Recently #6342, now black, has been sold to a new owner in California.
"Early in 2001, I purchased my first Italian automobile, a 1969 Lamborghini Islero S that has 49,000 km on it. According to the register, it was sold in Rome when new and from what I can gather ended up in California sitting in dry storage since the late '70s. I, therefore, had to 'wake' the car up after its long hibernation. Although I have owned probably 70-80 British cars, and build and race double over-head cam engines, the Islero was an interesting departure for me.
The carburetion had already been reworked sufficiently to allow the car to run, and the gas tank had been cleaned, so we had some of the work done. The car was still sitting on what were probably its' second set of tires, and I had to find new rubber with a 'V' rating, at least, of a size that matched as closely as possible the original GR 70 15s. I ended up with 215/70 x 15 P4000 Pirellis.
The wheels had to be refinished as a safety measure and I had the center adaptors removed, everything mechanically stripped, repainted, and reassembled. This, of course, made the spinners seem shoddy, so I had to have them plated, and I fitted the new rubber, tubeless, though not without a little playing around to get bolt-in valves that sealed properly in the rather deep holes in the rims.
After much playing about with a sticking brake booster, and rebuilding the master cylinder, that system came on line properly.
The suspension was in rather decent shape, with no bushings worn out, and when Lou warned me to carefully inspect a notorious weak point, the lower rear suspension attachment at the hub carrier, I discovered to my delight that the Islero S, at least, had been modified by the factory to have grease nipples at that point, like the contemporary Espada.
Repacking front bearings and replacing seals got the other end going except for one thing. The tie-rod ends were all worn, and my choices boiled down to buying complete assemblies for an Espada, which weren't exactly cheap, and then throwing away the joining rod, which would be too long for use on the Islero, or coming up with something else that would work. After much browsing through borrowed suspension catalogs, I found some tie rods that were of the correct taper on the pin, and were one each, left and right hand thread, the thread was 17 mm, rather than the 18 mm of the Islero, but there was a joining link that needed only minor shortening to suit. The end with the LH thread only needed shortening a little, the one with the RH thread needed to be shortened much more, and the thread continued into an area that was not threaded on the part as purchased. You cannot use a die to do this - it should be done by a machinist with a lathe.
The net result was tie rod ends at about $10 each plus some machining, and as they are built to serve a Toyota truck of significantly more weight than the Islero, there should be no strength issue.
I added seat belts - it never had them, being an Italian-market car. Moss Motors MGB or TR-6 belts work well, and come with retractors.
The engine then needed 'going over'. The compression was excellent on all but one cylinder, and a leak-down test showed that rings rather than valves were at fault, so light oil and Rislone went in and I am still putting some miles on it to see if we can free things up. If the rings are simply stuck in the grooves, they may succumb to treatment. The alternatives are broken rings, or the more likely situation where rings corrode to the cylinder wall from sitting too long, and then the first time you turn it over, they tear free leaving a rough face on the ring that will likely never seal properly.
I wanted to rebuild both distributors, and sourced all the seals and bearings from GT Car Parts with no problem. One distributor looked like it was not original, and had the pins in the advance 'barrel' loose in the plate, so I had to take the good one to a friend who is a machinist and have him make up a plate that fit exactly inside the barrel, with holes that would align the loose pins so that they could be re-welded from below.
We also wanted to make sure the valve clearances were at 'spec', so we removed the cams and I took the cam followers home to resurface them. In these engines the followers are flat rather than convex, and they wear in a dish fashion, which makes the valve motion a bit uncertain. The solution is to refinish them, and you can do this with a sheet of 220 garnet paper on a piece of plate glass to ensure absolute flatness. It took 2 nights watching TV, and hands that were unbelievably black, but it is a simple job that is well worth doing. Setting the valves was then just a matter of checking the clearances with the newly surfaced followers, and sourcing more shims. As the early Alfa shim is interchangeable, and as local Alfa enthusiasts keep bunches of them, and are willing to swap yours for theirs, this went quickly.
A few other bits of routine maintenance, like rewiring, rebuilding the water pump, adding a newer style of temperature switch in place of the original Lucas item (we have been doing this for years on the British cars, and the adaptors to use an over-the-counter switch are available), and replacing the drive belt in the 8-track player got me back on the road again.
The car will need a few replacement synchros, and one spring in the shifter mechanism has gone AWOL, and while the rear suspension springs have been re-set successfully, the front ones have obstinately refused, so I am having new ones made up (I want at least the nominal 4.5-5" ground clearance - it makes me nervous to see that oil cooler skimming above speed bumps by so little!), but other than that it is a functioning and enjoyable car again."
The Lamborghini Owner's Club is a great source of information and news. Subscribing to Jim Kaminski's newsletter will certainly increase your enjoyment of your Islero experience. This is a great source for manuals, wiring diagrams, and other Isleromobilia. Jim also has original sales brochures for the Islero and Islero S.