The new Touring car was christened "Flying Star" after a previous Turin Show car from the firm. The original "Flying Star" took its bow at Turin in 1931, a body style shown in duplicate, based on both Alfa Romeo 1750GS and Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8 chassis. The 1966 Lamborghini-based car was thus officially titled "Flying Star II" and was one of the purest expressions yet of the Touring house style. Seen in side elevation, "Flying Star II" was a simple and elegant form whose hood and roof profile could more or less be drawn with three sweeps of a drawing pen. This was Touring at its best.
The front of the car came in for some unique treatment. The snout was extended downwards and the headlamps tucked behind huge glass covers of very elaborate compound curves. The silver-painted hand-formed aluminum coachwork shared no panels with the 400GT. Where the latter has rounded flanks, the Flying Star is fairly slab-sided and has a profiled rebate from the top of the front wheel arches, along the sills and up to the top of the rear arches.
The roofline slopes down in a gentle sweeping curve to the rear so that the tailgate, with its huge glass panel, is steeply raked. When open, this reveals a relatively shallow opening-not as practical as might be hoped for on a car supposed to carry luggage for two on a cross-continental journey. As if to emphasize this, the floor of the load area aft of the seats slopes upward to the rear to achieve a smooth line over the rear axle and fuel tank. Capacious inside the Flying Star II is not!
At its Turin Show debut in 1966, the car wore Borrani wire wheels and had a less than elegant exposed, round fuel-filler cap just behind the driver's door handle. It was not long before a set of Miura-style alloys was substituted, and much later in the car's life, when it was living with a French owner, the filler cap was reworked to be hidden away behind a proper flush-fitting flap.
If the outward appearance of the Flying Star II bore little resemblance to the Lamborghini 400GT, the interior was less dissimilar. The Lamborghini instruments were placed in exactly the same relationship to each other, but instead of the 300km/h speedometer, oil-pressure gauge and 8000-rpm rev counter being slightly recessed, they were brought out to sit flush with the instrument panel and given a binnacle to shield them from reflections.
The opposite was done with the bank of minor gauges on the center console. Instead of being shaded by a lip, the console was increased in depth and the instruments brought out flush with the leather-clad console. The round carpet-covered transmission tunnel of the 400GT was hidden under a larger squared-off console with lockable oddments compartment that integrated into the dashboard in form and material. Other distinctive differences were the leather-bound rather than wood-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel, dashtop-mounted air vents and rearview mirror. This was necessary because of the falling rear roofline that would have cut off the view of the normal roof lining-mounted rearview mirror.
Driving any classic Italian car from the 1960s is a treat, an early Lamborghini even more so because of the wonderful V12 engine installed in the long prow between you and the open road. Turn the ignition key and the electric fuel pump starts to rattle off like a machine gun. It is much louder than in a 400GT; the luggage space in the back acts as an echo chamber, amplifying the sound. Apply two firm prods on the throttle to prime the six Weber 40DCOEs nestled in the 60-degree vee of the engine, and turn the small, old-fashioned key to its furthest extreme. After a brief mechanical whirr, the pre-engaged starter kicks the 320 horses out of their peaceful slumber. The bark from the four ANSA tailpipes grabs your attention next, but before you are totally distracted, you realize that the throttle needs careful fettling to keep the cold engine from dying. Tap dancing on the throttle and then steady pressure is the technique required. No more than 2000 rpm on a cold engine, but this gentle persuasion is necessary for a couple of minutes. Then, as the cavallini get used to flexing their stiff muscles again, the big V12 settles down to a purposeful idle.
A couple of minutes later, the lumpiness has gone. The tach needle flicks restlessly, typical of early electronic units. Clutch down. It is not too heavy considering the power and torque it has to transmit, but it is still on the heavy side of medium weighted, as is the throttle. But, as they are close in weight, the overall balance is fine.
First gear. The lever is not butter-smooth in its action, but it is very positive. There should be no problems with gear selection. As is my normal habit, I try the brake pedal before moving off. Click, click. Interesting; you can hear the hydraulics at work behind your head, again a function of the on-board echo chamber!