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Front-engined Lamborghinis are a thing again, thanks to the Urus SUV. For decades, the company built nothing but mid-engined vehicles, perhaps for a good reason. But 50 years ago, Lamborghini introduced two cruisers with front-mounted V12s, and to commemorate the anniversary, the company's historical Polo Storico division has now restored examples of both.

Before the era of Diablos, Murcielagos and Gallardos, the Espada was the strongest seller in the Lamborghini stable. Between 1968 and 1978, Lamborghini built 1,226 Espadas, all of them with a 4-liter V12, and some of them with an automatic transmission — a Lamborghini first. Depending on the version, the Espada's power output ranged from 325 hp to 350, and it could exceed 150 mph while seating four. Taking its cues from earlier concept cars, the Espada's Gandini design can be remembered from the near-horizontal rear deck, and the 47-inch tall cars are very low for four-seaters.

What about the Islero? For Lamborghini, it was a more conventional approach to a GT, as it was a further development of the earlier 400GT — itself a continuation of Lamborghini's first production car, the 350GT. A handy way to tell the cars apart is that the Islero has hidden headlights, unlike the two earlier models. Compared to the Espada, the Islero's production run was markedly shorter: It was built for only two model years, with a total of 225 cars. The engine was the same V12 as in the Espada, but while the Islero S also had 350 hp, it was notably faster, and able to reach 161 mph.

Lamborghini's Espada/Islero celebrations include a special tour of the Umbria region in early September. There's a 400-mile tour of central Italy Sept. 7-11 for Lamborghini enthusiasts, arranged by Lamborghini Polo Storico.

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