It’s difficult to know what the future might hold for the no-holds-barred classic supercars of the past, but surely it’s impossible for the “safety” experts to turn their noses up if they ever come face to face with the Lamborghini Miura. The name “Miura” comes from a breed of Spanish fighting bull, and the equally wild Lamborghini with its 350-horsepower, V-12 engine mounted transversely in the rear, is so bold, individualistic and unconventional that it’s hard to imagine it fitting into anybody’s arbitrary standards – safety or otherwise.
Before there was a specific definition in the dictionary for the word “supercar”, there was one one car that in itself was the definition: the Lamborghini Miura. The Miura is far more than just a glamorous / powerful or expensive car; for many this is considered THE car, and is not to be confused with mere Ferraris, Porsches or Maseratis.
Originally, Ferruccio Lamborghini made his fortune building tractors, and legend has it that when he complained to Enzo Ferrari that his Prancing Horses came with a noisy, agricultural gearbox, Enzo told Lamborghini to stick to tractors and let him worry about sports cars. It was this that supposedly drove Lamborghini to respond with the Miura – and what a response.
Lamborghini was initially sceptical about building a fast car, seeing it only as a marketing exercise to add a bit of flash to the launch of his new range of saloons. His team of very young engineers created this mesmerising design in their free time, and was reportedly bullish in his suggestion that they would “never sell more than 50”. Little did he realise at the time that the name “Miura” would become synonymous with one of the most exciting cars of all time, but upon seeing Bertone’s drawings his first words were simply “build it”.
The Miura is widely considered the first supercar of the modern era, but even that moniker doesn’t do justice to what must have been sheer jaw-dropping astonishment on arrival in 1966. The Shah of Persia kept his pair of Lamborghini Miura under armed guard and orders were placed when it was little more than a naked chassis when Bertone had not yet finished penning the smooth lines of its body.
This was the first mid-engined road car, and what an engine it was. The original ‘P400’ 3.9 L Lamborghini V12 put down 350hp which – according to the August 1970 edition of Autocar – was good for 172mph; with the Miura S, an extra 10 horsepower was added thanks to engine intake manifolds made 2 mm larger and different camshaft profiles. With upper and lower wishbones, coil springs, and stabilising bars on all four corners, the suspension rendered certain rigid rear-axled Ferraris antiquated.
As far as driving a Lamborghini Miura S is concerned, it’s certainly a challenge. The steering and clutch are fairly heavy and there are likely light-armoured tanks with better turning circles – oh, and forget the privilege of any real rear visibility (not that this matters because you’ll rarely care what’s behind you). The panorama, drama and admiring glances are all on show through the fine wrap-round windscreen that shows off the bonnet’s sensual curves.
Driving down swooping Cotswold roads on one of the first genuinely warm, sunny days of the year, this particular bright green Miura drew attention at virtually every junction – many turning their heads to take note of the sound before they even knew what was about to come around the corner. The roar of four camshafts and six double-barrel carburettors is simply an unforgettable crescendo that really comes alive once you hit the rev-band.
Lamborghini’s “Certifcato d’oringine” for this particular car declares that the vehicle was produced at Lamborghini’s workships in the year 1968, and was finished in Verde (Green) with Senape (Mustard) interior. After leaving the factory, this Miura found a number of homes in Italy before going to Switzerland. There it received a light recommissioning before being sold to its current owner in 2004. Under the careful watch of its current owner, it was sent to GTC Engineering for a full restoration which took over two years to complete. During this time the interior was also painstakingly refurbished in blue Italian leather, which feels absolutely perfectly suited to the loud exterior hue.
Simply put, few other cars have ever been quite so extravagantly exotic as the Lamborghini Miura. The opening sequence of The Italian Job – a blast along cliff-top roads to the sound of ‘On Days Like These’ – could only have ever featured a Miura. After the car’s launch an employee was sent to Casino Square in Monte Carlo and instructed to simply rev the engine loudly; he came away with 17 orders, which I guess says it all.
The combination of mid-engine layout, screaming 8000 RPM V12 putting out over 100hp/L, excellent weight distribution, gorgeous low slung body and great high speed cruising/handling is an undeniable package that made it the fastest production road car in the world when released, though it only held that title for a year.
Currently for sale through Cotswold Collectors Cars at The Hub, this Lamborghini Miura S is a true collectible and a turn key example, complete with history file and Lamborghini Certificate of origin. Pictured above alongside the Miura is one of six Lamborghini Design 90 superbikes, built by French bike specialist, ‘Boxer’ in 1986.