Lamborghini Islero Reconstruction

Updated on Feb 27. 2004


Recorded history for my Islero started in 1975 when my father bought the car in Toronto.  At the time it was painted green, and was in fairly good condition.  It lived in his garage and was driven on-and-off for about 10 years.  It was then moved to my brother Adam's in the Brockville/Prescott area where it was also driven on-and-off for a few years.  The last 5 or so were entirely off, as its condition had deteriorated beyond drivability.

In 1997 I was given the hulk, and it became my quest to restore it.

The first problem was where to store it.  We already had two cars, and a two car garage.  In Canada, we actually use a garage to park our cars overnight, to allow for snow removal and to protect our cars from the elements!  The problem was solved by installing a two-post lift in the garage.  The Lambo could live up on the lift, and my Maxima could park underneath.  There was enough height in the garage, but the garage door needed re-rigging (thanks to Dave and Hugh from Ace Garage Door).  Michael Smith from Capital Automotive Inc. (friendly neighbourhood Rotary Lift dealer) was very helpful and for about $5000 a lift appeared in the garage.  I love it.  After living with it for a few years, I would now prefer a 4 post lift.  Although mine is solidly mounted and professionally installed, it still bothers me slightly to depend on the strength of the concrete floor to keep it from tipping over.


My initial hope was that I could restore the Lambo slowly bit-by-bit over about three or four years.  I started by removing the transmission, which was having some problems in the synchro department.  It went to my basement for the winter where I replaced the synchro rings and a few other bits.  I enjoyed that.

Next came the engine.  That was a two year job. Most of the work was done in the spring and fall, since the engine is too heavy to take to the basement, and my garage is not heated.  The major challenge in the engine was a cam bearing which was totally munched.

The cams in the Lambo (four of them) run naked in the aluminum heads.  Some local oil starvation had allowed one of the bearings to run dry, with very ugly results.  My Dad came to the rescue, and bored out the bearing on his lathe and fashioned an oilite insert.  We fabricated valve-end spacers to adjust the valve clearances, since I was too cheap to order factory ones.  I hardened them by heating them cherry-red and then quenching them.  Any Lambo experts care to tell me this is a bad idea?  It's not too late to change them out, so let me know soon!   Update: I subsequently (Rob, actually) installed factory ones.

The rest of the engine was in pretty decent shape, so only rings and big-end bearings were replaced, this time with the help of my father-in-law, Dale Johnston from Watson, Saskatchewan.  The big-end bearing shells had big chunks torn out of them.  Sitting for a few years and then starting the engine wasn't good for them I guess.  The mains looked good, so I didn't change them.  I might need an excuse to take the engine out in a few years.

The engine now runs, and sounds beautiful.

I realized that at the pace I was going, the three or four year job would take ten years unless I found some help with the bodywork.  I found it, in the form of the Miniman (Rob and Company).  He and his crew have a multitude of Rovers, Jags, MGs, Land Rovers and even the odd Ferrari, Aston-Martin, deLorean and a Lambo 400 GT under their belts, so I knew my Islero is in good hands.  Rob ended up doing the last of the engine work, and lots of bits and pieces.  I recommend him highly for this kind of work, since he is so flexible.  He is happy to do as much or as little as the client wishes.

The interior had suffered badly from mouse damage, but the worst problem was the headliner.  This was replaced by Larry, and a lot of work it was.  He also did some new carpets and quite a bit of work restoring the existing leather.


This is the Lambo as it looked back in 1976.  The paint was still not too bad, the body sound, interior good and no mouse nests!  It did have a hot starting problem that was never solved.  I hope that the engine rebuild and a bunch of new electrics will solve this. I bought an Accel multi-spark ignition controller to improve spark performance, particularly while cranking.  On the bench it looks great, with a really hot looking series of sparks down to about 7 volts.  With the engine installed and running, and a huge battery cable installed, the engine still has some starting issues due to poor spark.  The Accel ignition hasn't been installed yet, but I guess I will need to.

What is keeping the engine from coming out?  Oops, the choke cable is still connected!


A proud me having just removed the engine.

Islero on the lift.  My daily driver fits underneath very comfortably.


Lambo prior to departure for bodywork.


The cockpit sans dashboard.

Inside the Miniman's shop.  Most of the paint stripped and doors off.

The engine in my garage, pretty much ready for installation.   I did most of the work on it, but Rob helped out with a few issues at the end.


Car is painted (temporarily? black).  This shows the rear quarter which had to be hand-beaten into the compound curve you see.  The Miniman man who does this (Robin) uses a soft-face hammer backed by a leather pad  and a hard-faced hammer on an anvil to do the forming.  It makes a true hammertone finish which must be seen to be appreciated.  Maybe I should clearcoat it so all can enjoy it?

Here it is in the shop with paint applied.  I took it home wearing this temporary paint and put all the mechanicals back on, scuffing the finish in the process as expected.  It then returned to the Miniman for its final topcoat.


New chrome on the Knockoffs, newly coated wheel.  The picture is so big because I like it so much.  Sorry about the bandwidth. What rubber should I get?

The Stebro Exhaust is finished, and looks great. All MIGed and TIGed 409 and 304 type stainless steel.  Thanks Dan and Andy and company, you did a great job.  Using my old system as a pattern, they now offer Islero systems to that great untapped market out there.  See their page here .

Islero's Bad Day
I had a very bad day awhile ago.  While being transported by truck to the Miniman, the hood blew off my Islero and was run over by an 18-wheeler.  Needless to say, this setback was not appreciated, particularly since the hood had been restored to pristine condition.
Things I learned, and fellow Lambo owners might take note:
Don't have the car transported facing backwards.
Consider insurance to cover such incidents (I did not).
Don't transport on very windy days.
Pay the driver extra to drive slowly.  They usually like to go fast.
Find a driver who is interested in the car.  I subsequently did, and feel much more comfortible having the Lambo moved.  Thanks, Danno, from Vic's towing.

Here is a picture of the unfortunate hood.

What now?

The Lambo bill has been paid, its pretty much restored.  Now all I need to do is complete the last wiring bits, tune it up and drive it.  It is too cold to work in my garage, until about April.  I'm busy seeking employment, since my job ended a few weeks ago.
It has been over 6 years of effort and expense.  Often taking one step forward and two steps back.  Has it been worth it?  I will reserve judgement on that until I drive it. 
Here are a few more bandwidth hogging pictures.


Luigi's Islero Page

Glen Kohut's Lamborghini Registry

My Brother Adam's Page

Other Projects

Dec 25, 2000 eclipse.  Pictures taken with my Olympus 2020Z with the
filter supplied in Astronomy mag stuck in front of the lens.
Could have used a bit more magnification, but surprisingly good results
considering the amount of prep and study beforehand, i.e. none.

This is my windmill.  It was an "impulse-buy-of-the-week" award winner.  I toured the factory when I was out west, visiting my in-laws Dale and Ellen.  I was so impressed I had to buy one.  It rode home on the roof of my minivan, neatly packed in three boxes.  If I don't have the only full-sized windmill in the City of Ottawa, I'd like to know about it!

**UPDATE I saw another windmill, not a Koenders, at the grounds of the Museum of Science and Tech.

Mine is a Koenders "freeair" windmill, designed to last for many decades on the prairies and for the purpose of aerating dugout ponds.  I have often been asked why I have it.  "Because I like it" doesn't seem to be a good enough answer for most people.  I now answer "Its to de-eutrophy my pond that I might put in someday" to the question.  The real answer is that I find it a very pleasing thing to look at, especially in motion.  Naturally, I want another one.  Deb says no.


Ideal conditions for astronomy.  Martini is not visible in this shot.
This is my new Meade LX200, definitely not an impulse buy.  I have been thinking about this one for 20 years.  I waited 3 months for delivery.
I like it.  Should I have waited and gotten the GPS version?


Read about my visit to the Geocache at 45N 75W with Steve at



Email me if you have any comment on my endeavours.

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