Broken Dreams: LMX Sirex, the forgotten Italian muscle car
Automobile history is littered with the broken dreams of enthusiastic entrepreneurs whose ventures fizzled out after having built just a handful of cars. And that's very much the case for the LMX Sirex, the sexy Italian GT you've never known existed.
Our story begins at the fiftieth edition of the Turin motor show, held in November of 1968. Or rather, in its parking lot.
That's where a rather striking coupé built by a company in Milan called Limaplas made its first appearance, in a rather crude but certainly cost-effective experiment to assess its public appeal and sales potential.
Limaplas was founded a year earlier by Frenchman Michel Liprandi, an engineer with significant experience in fiberglass bodies, and the Italian entrepreneur Giovanni Mandelli. Their little experiment during the Turin motor show gathered enough positive attention to convince them to move forward, and by the summer of 1969, the LMX Sirex was ready for the market.
The LMX acronym allegedly stood for "Linea Milano Executive," but you'd be forgiven for thinking the Sirex came from Detroit rather than Italy's fashion capital.
While undeniably attractive, the LMX's butch, muscular lines do appear somewhat derivative, and the car has more than a hint of a period American pony car to it.
The design of the LMX Sirex has often been attributed to the late Franco Scaglione, one of Italy's greatest automobile designers who, in the period, worked as a freelancer. Although that is possible and even plausible, it must also be said that evidence of Scaglione's involvement in the project is only anecdotal and hasn't been verified.
Under the hood
If the fiberglass skin of the LMX Sirex has a touch of Americana to it, what lies under it would suggest a very British influence instead.
The car's very sturdy-looking steel backbone chassis and struts suspensions are very reminiscent of period Lotus practice. The running gear is all made from off-the-shelf Ford components, much like any stereotypical British kit car company would have done.
The engine was the same 2.3 liters iron-block "Cologne" V6 found on hi-spec period Capris: fed via a double-choke carburetor, it produced around 120 HP.
The Ford V6 was reliable and easily serviced throughout Europe, and, given the LMX's lightweight construction, performance must have been pretty interesting for the standards of the time.
However, Liprandi and Mandelli knew that LMX buyers were likely to demand more, so a French Constantin supercharger or even the pioneering turbo conversion that the Swiss racer and engineer Michael May had devised for the Ford V6 were also made available.
Construction of the fiberglass body and its fitment onto the chassis were delegated to Eurostyle, a Turinese firm founded almost contemporarily with the presentation of the LMX in 1968.
Unfortunately, the company's financial situation soon proved less than solid, and the slow sales of the LMX certainly didn't help: only around 35 cars had been completed by the time Eurostyle went bust, and a further 12 to 15 LMXs were built afterward from leftover parts by a second company, called Samas and based in Alba, around 50 Km from Turin.
That brings the total production tally up to an estimated 50 cars, of which about half are still known to exist.
Few people knew about the LMX Sirex even during the two years it's been on sale, so it quickly faded into complete obscurity. However, it's also because of the passion and dreams of such wannabe automakers that motoring history is the diverse and intriguing field it is.