Lamborghini Miura S
This was where it all started - the first production automobile to prove itself worthy of the ‘supercar’ tag. Prior to the Lamborghini Miura’s arrival in 1967 many sports cars had offered high levels of performance and handling. The Miura however was the first built around the criteria that define our modern concept of the supercar: massive speed, jaw-dropping design coupled with technical innovation – together with a wallet-wilting price tag to which only the wealthiest could aspire.
Sig. Ferruccio Lamborghini began his historic enterprise with the enlistment of Giotto Bizzarrini – the father of the legendary Ferrari GTO, and one of the engineers driven out of Ferrari during the ‘palace revolt’ of November, 1961 – to create an all-new four-cam V12 engine, initially displacing 3.5 liters. The debut Lamborghini model was the 350GT, which featured an unusual, ‘bubble top’ design by Carrozzeria Touring with ‘frog eye’ headlights. Viewed as an interesting exercise in exotica, it was a remarkably well balanced package, and the engine, in particular, received accolades from the motoring press.
By 1967 the latest version of this powerplant (by now enlarged to 4.0 liters) was used for an entirely new, even revolutionary new model – the iconic Lamborghini Miura. First shown to a stunned public in March 1966 at the Geneva Salon, the Miura was the brainchild of seven young engineers, working after hours at Lamborghini on this radical new sports car. In fact, credit for the design goes to Marcello Gandini at Bertone, who was only 22 at the time. Under the guidance of New Zealand engineer Bob Wallace, the Miura’s chassis was tuned to deliver the handling needed to contain and exploit the prodigious power available. With double wishbone suspension at each corner (in best racing tradition) it was very advanced for a road car. The mid-mounted engine was fitted transversely to allow for a more compact overall stance – an engineering solution inspired by none other than the Austin Mini. The original sketches also called for a glass engine cover and a three-seat layout with the driver in the middle and each of two passengers on either side. Although the latter feature never made it to the production Miuras, it re-emerged on future supercars, most notably on the McLaren F1.
The glass cover was also never used but the rear window louvers used in production were an industry first. As the engine was no longer front-mounted but rather ‘posteriore,’ the first generation of Miuras were named P400s. This turned out to be a sensational, trendsetting decision. Almost immediately the young Lamborghini marque leapfrogged to the head of the class, well ahead of both Ferrari and Maserati with this innovative mid-engine configuration.
The specifications are still impressive today: a lightweight frame, all independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and powered by that well-proven, wonderful sounding V12, breathing through four triple throat Webers. With 350 brake horsepower on tap, the car was capable of nearly 180 mph in the hands of the brave, which was more than a match for any other road going production car. All clothed by that unmistakable, heart-stopping shape, formed in aluminum, the stuff of dreams.
A process of evolution and improvement was maintained throughout the life of the Miura and in 1968, the ‘S,’ for spinto (or, tuned) version appeared, boasting 370 bhp, updated brakes and numerous other enhancements. Faster, more luxuriously appointed and more stable with better braking, it was a large step forward from its already magnificent forebear. The Miura S was capable of reaching 60mph from a standing start in 5.5 seconds and 140mph in less than 30 seconds, with a top speed of 177mph.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona and in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
370bhp at 7,700 rpm, transverse mounted four-litre alloy V12 quad-cam engine, Weber carburetors, five-speed manual gearbox, sheet steel platform chassis with aluminum body panels, independent front and rear suspension with A-arms, coil springs with tubular shocks and anti-roll bars, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 98.4"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel