The SEMA Show in Las Vegas is the “World Series” for custom car enthusiasts. Builders from all over the world bring their custom vehicles to the annual show, hoping to scoop up awards or recognition for pushing the custom automobile industry forward a little bit.
Within the custom car world are many different segments: street cars, drag cars, pro-touring/restomods, Exotics, original restorations, stanced/flush, VIP, Rustomods, hot rods/Kustoms, vintage racers, street trucks, lowriders, Overlanders, Jeeps and 4x4s, and many other classes of vehicles.
But every once in a while, a vehicle comes along that defies classification. At the 2019 SEMA Show, there was a car that I couldn’t quite make sense of.
Builders Herve Castagno and Alexandre Danton from France presented this 1969 Lamborghini Espada CHD Edition. Now you might be asking: who in their right mind would chop up and rat rod a Lamborghini Espada? I was wondering the same thing.
A sign in front of the car offered the following information:
- Built to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Espada
- The most expensive rat rod (insured for $750,000)
- The first ever Fabio Lamborghini inspired rat rod
- Custom built with real, numbers-matching Lamborghini body and chassis
- Custom G67 RUMI wheels by Govad Forged Wheels in Toronto, Canada
- Original V12 engine
- 8.2 feet wide
- Built by Danton Arts Kustoms in France
I can understand how Lamborghini purists would not like the car, as it goes in a very different direction from the car’s original intent as a luxury grand tourer. A car with no side windows, no engine cover and a very sparse interior seems too radical a change for a car that is supposed to be comfortable, fast, and elegant. It’s utterly impractical for anything other than short drives to car shows.
And what about the traditional rad rod enthusiast crowd? What would they make of this chopped and stretched Italian sports car? Rat rods are all about creativity – making a gas tank out of an old beer keg, or repurposing a vintage pump handle as a door latch. Using old pistons to make side mirrors – cool stuff like that. While this car has some rat rod elements – an extreme chopped roof and a wide stance, it is too polished, too perfect, too different from the “DIY aesthetic” that is at the center of rat rodding.
I am not sure that this car would fit in with the Vintage Lambo crowd or with the rat rod crowd. It’s kind of in between two very different segments of the car universe. I had the same mixed feelings about the 2009 Ford Mustang which received a Lamborghini Gallardo V10 engine swap, which I saw at Barrett-Jackson’s 2019 Scottsdale auction. I covered that car in my post Weird and Wonderful Custom Cars.
Don’t get me wrong – I think the Espada rat rod looks cool and it definitely showcases some expert level fabrication skills. But would I want to own the car? The answer is: no.
Not long after the SEMA Show, the car was offered for auction at Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida in January, 2020. While a high bid of $100,000 was received, this was far short of the estimate of $200,000 to $250,000. As far as I know, the car did not sell.
What do you think of the rat rod Lambo? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.