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This Week, I Have Another Italian Beauty For You. It’s…

The Lamborghini Miura 1966 -1973

The¬†Miura, produced by¬†Lamborghini, was the first road-going supercar with a mid-engine, 2-seat layout which later became the standard for high-performance sports cars and supercars. Upon its release it was the fastest production road car in the world with w 6.3 second 0-100 Km/h (62 MPH) and a top speed of 280 Km/h (174 MPH) and represented a seismic shift in the world of high-performance exotic cars.¬†Lamborghini’s¬†top three engineers, Gianpaolo Dallara, who also designed racing chassis for the early¬†Williams Formula One¬†cars and several¬†Indycars¬†as well as the chassis for the¬†BMW¬†M1, Paolo Stanzani and Bob Wallace worked at night to develop a road racer that could be driven on the street. They hoped to persuade company founder Ferrucio Lamborghini to produce the car. He finally saw the car as a valuable marketing tool if nothing else and green-lighted the project.

P400 1966-1967

The original¬†Miura¬†was designated¬†P400¬†(for Posteriore 4 litri) and featured a transverse mid-engine layout, improving weight distribution and more importantly, handling. In addition to being an unusual layout for the time, the 3.9 liter, 4-cam 350 HP V-12 engine also merged with the transmission and differential to form one unit, resulting in a tight design suited to the limited confines of the engine compartment. Named¬†Miura¬†after a famous Spanish fighting bull breeder, it as well as the fact that Ferrucio Lamborghini was born under the zodiac sign Taurus, spawned the raging bull logo which became synonymous with future¬†Lamborghinis¬†as well. The prototype chassis and engine were displayed at the Turin Auto Show in 1965, and impressed show-goers placed orders for the chassis despite having no body. The following year at the Geneva Motor Show the chassis and the swooping body, designed by Marcello Gandini from the famed Italian auto styling house¬†Bertone¬†and delivered only days before, was the hit of the show and greatly boosted Gandini’s reputation. However, there was no time to see if the body would actually fit over the engine, so the engine compartment was filled with ballast and locked, and the salespeople were forced to turn away members of the motoring press who wanted to see the power plant. The cars had steel frames and doors, and aluminum front and rear body sections to reduce weight, these were both hinged and opened clamshell-style. An unverified claim says that the first 125¬†Miuras were produced with lighter steel to reduce weight even further.

Ferrari 275GTB

The sensuous curves of the body immediately made anything else on the road look outdated, including rival¬†Ferrari‘s¬†250GT¬†and¬†275GTB. The pop-up headlights had distinctive black “eyebrow” surrounds as well. If you open both doors, the vertical extensions on the rear edge of the doors resemble the horns of a bull, more reference to its namesake.

475¬†P400s were produced, a pretty good one-year run for¬†Lamborghini¬†despite the¬†Miura‘s $20,000 (over $167,000 today) price tag. For comparison, that’s 45 more¬†Miuras in 1 year than¬†BMW¬†produced¬†M1s (July’s featured car) in 3 years and 72 more¬†Miuras than¬†Iso¬†produced¬†Grifos (June’s featured car) in 11 years.

P400 S 1968-1970

Miura was upgraded in 1968 inside, but kept the same stunning shape outside. Power windows and optional A/C came to the car as well as a locking glove box. The engine received upgrades as well too, with new intake manifolds and camshafts good for an additional 20 HP. This dropped the 0-100 Km/h to 5.5 seconds.

P400 SV 1971-1973

The SV was a major update, with a new rear suspension, new wishbones and a wider rear end that also added 1.5 inches in length. Larger cast magnesium wheels with larger tires worked with the suspension to greatly improve the already great handling of the¬†P400¬†and¬†P400S. The headlight surrounds were made smooth, as opposed to the “eyebrow” look of its predecessor’s headlights. Better integrated front turn signals and rear lights from the¬†Fiat Dino Spyder¬†were also added. They didn’t forget the engine, which bumped up to 385 HP.

P400 Jota 1970-1971

Ferrucio Lamborghini never signed off on racing the Miura, however test driver Bob Wallace helped design the P400 Jota, a racing version with a body and chassis made entirely of aluminum that would conform to FIA racing regulations. This and other lightening measures resulted in a car that weighed 800 lbs. less than a production Miura, already a light 2, 400 lb. car. The engine was tuned to produce 400 HP and run at nearly 9,000 RPM. This car had a front spoiler, fixed front headlights with fairings and significant suspension modifications. Lamborghini did not enter the car in competition but a wealthy Lamborghini client did, where it crashed and burned to the ground.

P400 SV/J 1971

Word got out about the factory hot rod and six customers ordered cars in the Jota spirit, called SV/J from the factory. Several others were later modified into non-factory SV/Js.

Roadster 1968

A one-off¬†Miura Roadster, actually a¬†Targa-top without the silver¬†Targa¬†roll bar, was built in 1971. This car was shown at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2013.

Miura Concept 2006

In 2006 a¬†Miura Concept¬†car, looking remarkably like the¬†Jota, but updated for the 21st¬†Century, was presented at the¬†American Museum of Television & Radio¬†and debuted at the¬†North American International Auto Show¬†two weeks later. This 40th¬†Anniversary concept was the first car to be drawn by current¬†Lamborghini¬†Chief Designer Walter de’Silva. Lamborghini CEO Stefan Winkelmann has denied the car will go into production, stating “The¬†Miura¬†was a celebration of our history, but¬†Lamborghini¬†is about the future. Retro design is not what we are here for. So we won’t do the¬†Miura.”

A total of 764 Miuras were built, and they remain one of the most beautiful and collectible cars today, with excellent examples fetching anywhere from 1 to 3 million dollars at auction. ✪

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It’s President Jeff D. Boofer