One of our other customers at Maltin’s was Dave Brown who had registration number D303 on a chocolate brown Lamborghini Espada. Dave had won the pools or something and purchased this car from Harrods of all places. He was a friend of Gerry Stonhill’s, another of our valued Porsche customers, who owed the George Pub in Dorchester on Thames.
Chris had come in to ask me if I thought we should take Dave’s Espada on at Maltin’s, as he was a good friend of Gerry’s. I said, “Yes, why not”, although looking back on it I wonder why.
The first job I remember looking into on this Lamborghini was a leaking plastic windscreen washer bottle. This was located in the front wing adjacent to the V12 engine. I told Chris to order up a new one as it was split and needed replacing. Upon investigation I could not work out how to remove this bottle? After an hour or so studying this I came to the conclusion that the only way to replace this bottle was to remove the engine! Chris did not believe me, so he came and looked for himself and concurred. He went away rubbing his hands together, probably thinking Dave would pay us to do this job. A while later he returned saying to leave it for now but we would need to sort that problem out when the car came in for it’s first major service.
A few weeks later, Chris told me one evening that the Espada had broken down in Oxfordshire which at that time had only done around 1,500 miles from new. We both went off to recover it that evening and upon investigation discovered a massive amount of oil all over the bottom of the engine and on the road where it had been parked up. We topped the oil up and checked the coolant, then started the engine up. It was running quite smoothly but making a light knocking sound. We stopped it and decided to tow the car back to the farm at Hawthorn Hill.
Upon investigation, I found a massive hole in one side of the crankcase and a connecting rod wedged in it! Checking the other side of the engine later on we found the adjacent connecting rod on the crankshaft has popped out the other side! Chris could not understand this on a brand new car and he called Lamborghini to find out if they knew of similar problems. Chris came and told me that they had a number of new V12 Lamborghini’s all with the same problem.
Chris went away to think on this for some time and came back after a week or so and said he thought petrol was siphoning from the carburettors into the engine causing the pistons to hydraulic lock. After being stopped for some time, the siphon effect would deposit fuel in the cylinder with the intake valve open and upon cranking the engine; each time hydraulically locking which bent the connecting rods little by little until they finally had let go. He tracked this siphon effect down to a failure of a valve in the base of the float chamber in the carburettors. Upon telling Lamborghini Great Britain about this and probably selling them his knowledge, he came back to say that they had recalled most of the latest new cars sold except for Paul McCartney’s. He apparently said if his blew up, he would just order another one.
It was after these episodes that we really appreciated Porsche engineering. The Italians made really eye catching and truly exotic cars in those days but they lacked the reliability and practicality for everyday use that came standard with Porsche.