If you ask someone to describe a Lamborghini most likely you’ll get a description of the dramatic, ultra-high performance cars from Sant’Agatha, like the Miura, Countach, and more recently the Aventador and Huracan, they only offer – sometimes even barely enough – space for two. But keep in mind Ferruccio Lamborghini didn’t start by building these exotic legends, he actually wanted to build cars like a 400 GT 2+2, a smooth-running, easy to drive Gran Turismo.
The Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 qualified both of these criteria, easy to drive, high performance and still offer luxury and comfort combined with a frightening high top speed, the 400 GT 2+2 evolution of the 350 GT was first shown to the public during the March 1966 Geneva Auto Show, the show car was chassis number #0403 … the 400 GT 2+2 prototype in fact.
At first glance the Lamborghini 350 GT and the 400 GT 2+2 might look very much alike, but upon closer inspection you will notice quite a lot of differences, actually almost no body panel can be interchanged between these two models, mostly because the 400 GT 2+2 had an all-steel body while the 350 GT came with an aluminum body. While all of the 350 GT were built by Carrozzeria Touring, during the production of the 400 GT 2+2 they went out of business and production was taken over by Marazzi in 1967, most likely from chassis number #1030 on.
To make room for the two additional seats in the rear the Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 was 65 mm taller than the 350 GT and had a different rear window and modified luggage compartment cover, while some consider the 2+2 less exciting looking as the 350 GT, the 400 GT 2+2 was produced in greater numbers (224 2+2 against 100 350 GT), still a rare sight. The initial difference you’ll notice are the quad sealed-beam headlights replacing the special looking oval units, and which were needed to comply with the U.S. Safety Laws.
From the 400 GT 2+2 on, Lamborghini built its own transmission and differential designed by Dallara, this way Ferruccio could assure himself of almost all the pieces he needed to build ‘his’ cars, some of the 400 GT Interim cars still used the Salisbury unit while others already received the official Lamborghini unit.
There has been a lot of talk about the dual and single windshield wipers, some state only the 350 GT came with the single wiper while the 400 GT 2+2 always had dual wipers, but many 2+2 have been seen with only one wiper too … rumor has it the customer could select either one or two wipers, it wasn’t an option nor was it related to the model itself.
On the inside the 400 GT 2+2 naturally offered two more seats in the rear (do note that a very rare 2+1 configuration on the 350 GT was available), but also the dashboard was slightly modified … on the 350 GT the dials were often set on brushed aluminum bezels while on the 400 GT 2+2 a wood imitation plate was used, some sources even state the number of switches on the central console was different.
If you look at the Lamborghini 350 GT and 400 GT 2+2 side by side you will notice the 2-seater rides lower at the rear, to cope with the additional weight of two more passengers the rear suspension on the 400 GT 2+2 has been raised.
The Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 was the first model from Sant’Agata to be available in RHD, all of the 350 GT were LHD, but from mid 1968 on a total of 5 factory built RHD left the gates, #01354 was sold to New Zealand, #01243 and #01297 were shipped to Australia while #01342 and #01345 came to the UK … six more 400 GT 2+2 have been converted to RHD outside of the factory.
The Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2 became a success, totaling at 224 units it outsold the 350 by more than 100 units, however the two extra seats cost about $ 500 each, a rather stiff fare in 1966. If you look for an early Lamborghini, try the 400 GT 2+2, it will be easier to find, and, thanks to the steel body, cheaper and easier to restore, some body parts are actually still available, but don’t expect it to be cheap … prices on the 400 GT 2+2 have been rising over the last years.
If you really want a Touring built 400 GT 2+2 instead of the later Marazzi ones there are a few items to keep in mind, as already mentioned it is believed from chassis #1030 on Marazzi built these cars, but also check the Touring Wing crest on the body … none of the Marazzi should have those while the Superleggera script on the engine cover was omitted on the last cars too. The Touring wings and Superleggera script on the luggage compartment cover is more difficult to distinguish as the early Marazzi units came with this, only the last cars didn’t receive these logos … naturally during a restoration the owner might have added these items anyway, so nothing is certain at first glance.