18 January 2013
1969 Lamborghini Miura P400S 'SV Specification'
Sold for $781,000
- Chassis no. 3952
- Engine no. 2871
• Considered to be the world’s first supercar; now in its ultimate form
• Factory ‘S’ model meticulously upgraded to SV specification
• Fully and freshly restored by marque experts Bobileff Motorcars
• Numbers matching
As the crow flies, Enzo “Il Commendatore” Ferrari and Ferruccio Lamborghini worked only 17 miles apart, but their respective approaches to building sophisticated GT sports cars might have been conceived from different planets. Enzo Ferrari was essentially conservative from an engineering standpoint, so his 365GTB/4 Daytona was conventionally configured with a front engine and rear-wheel drive. Ferrari always said that the horse belongs in front of the chariot. The car drove like a traditional Ferrari, with wonderful mechanical noises from the V-12 ahead of you, a tall shift lever in its trademark metal gate, and when you punched the throttle, you were pulled along by powerful forces. With the attainment of speed, you sensed you were in the last car of a roller coaster.
Ferruccio Lamborghini was a former Ferrari owner who, as legend has it, complained to Il Commendatore about his cars and was ignominiously rebuffed in his attempt to offer suggestions for improvement. So offended, the bull-headed tractor manufacturer became determined to trump the master car builder, and he got a head start by contracting Giotto Bizzarrini, “the godfather of the 250GTO,” to design the engine for his cars. Such was the acrimony of this competition that, according to some accounts, Lamborghini paid Bizzarrini a bonus for every horsepower over what Ferrari's V-12 could produce.
Just two years after Lamborghini introduced its first car, the 350GT, itself a worthy contender that effectively challenged Ferrari’s GT dominance, Ferruccio Lamborghini approved the production of what was to quickly become his tour de force, the Miura.
To say that the Lamborghini Miura astonished the motoring world is an understatement. First shown as an un-named bare chassis at the November 1965 Turin Show, the Miura concept awed competitors, the press, and the public alike with its radical, transverse mid-mounted, quad-cam V-12. Inspired by racing technology, this application to a road car ushered into the automotive lexicon as the world’s first, true notion of what a supercar should be.
The idea to display the bare chassis was Ferruccio Lamborghini’s. At first, he was excited by the mechanical configuration, and it was important to him that engineering was understood to be paramount. So it was to his delight that the introduction of the chassis itself became headline material.
Lamborghini further astounded the masses when it showed the complete car at Geneva the following March. Here was a machine straight out of the future with sensuous yet aggressive styling by Marcello Gandini, from the styling studio of Bertone, of Turin. Gandini, while still in his early twenties, was to become the de-facto chief designer at Bertone following the departure of Giorgetto Giugiario, who left to launch Ital Design. This was the first time the new car bore the name Miura; it was inspired by Ferruccio Lamborghini’s birth sign, Taurus, as well as the name given to a brilliantly fearsome and courageous strain of fighting bull bred by one Don Miura.
Standing a mere 3 feet 6 inches tall, the Miura chassis features a steel box-section monocoque tub, with deep longitudinal members providing strength, and it was considerably lightened with extensive holes drilled. Two forked radius rods that connected the rear chassis members with the firewall of the passenger area provided additional stiffness. Suspension is a classic setup, featuring unequal-length A-arms and coil springs at each wheel, along with thick anti-roll bars in the front and rear. Braking is by Girling four-wheel discs, and the steering is rack-and-pinion, as one would expect of advanced cars in this league.
Following Geneva, the Miura made perhaps its most significant introductory appearance at the Monaco Grand Prix in May 1966, when Lamborghini Development Engineer Bob Wallace and a mechanic drove the prototype car to join the lineup of exotics parked outside the Casino Monte-Carlo on the eve of the famous race. It completely overshadowed the other cars and, once again, convincingly suggested that the ambitious young engineering team behind the progressive thinking of the Miura would make an indelible mark on the automotive world.
The Lamborghini Miura and the aforementioned Ferrari Daytona (arriving on the market one year later) are two vastly different propositions. “Such different racehorses from basically the same breeding grounds,” says John Lamm in his book, The Supercar: An Evolution of Speed.
The Daytona, with its timelessly elegant shape, courtesy of Pininfarina, was to be the last of the conventional, front engine berlinettas of the “Enzo era.” The Miura, on the other hand, proved to be the harbinger of supercar design for decades to come. It is lithe, sensuous, and extremely beautiful, while also barely concealing its brutal intent. This sexy shape, today considered a masterpiece of Bertone design, retained more than a hint of concept car exoticism, and its stretching over the mechanicals is every bit as seductive. Some 46 years later, the Miura is as visually and aurally appealing as it was the day it was introduced. Few vehicles can make that claim, even among the rarified ranks of the top performance GTs of this expressive period.
The Miura driving dynamic experience was also decidedly different. It looked, handled, and ran like something that could win Le Mans with its unabashedly race-inspired design. The mid-engine layout of the Miura afforded its low nose, which offered an excitingly widescreen view of the road. Front and rear clips were hinged to tilt up for accessibility to drivetrain components, evocative of the Ford GT40. Yet it remained a two-seat grand tourer that offered amazing engine flexibility from its 350 horsepower V-12. The difficulty in fitting the long V-12 into a mid-engine layout was ingeniously solved by mounting the engine transversely and integrating the gearbox behind it, effectively providing the sensation of propelling the driver ahead. You were now finally in the roller coaster’s front car!
The press was smitten. The Miura immediately became the symbol of success combined with good taste. According to Bertone S.p.A., a well-known European magazine, after having described its technological merits of absolute excellence, dubbed it “the most provocative Italian in the world after Sofia Loren.” And road tests in all the buff books came to the same basic conclusion: the Miura was fast. Autocar and Motor cleared 170 mph with 0–60 in less than 6 seconds and 0–100 in 13.4. Road & Track called it “the most glamorous, exciting, and prestigious sports car in the world.”
In total, Lamborghini built 764 Miuras (although some sources indicate 760 or 765) in three variations from 1966–1972. The original Miura, dubbed the P400 (posteriori, or rear, four-liter) accounted for 474 units through 1969. In 1968, the company introduced the improved P400S, which had a slightly greater power output of 370 horsepower, mainly as the result of new camshafts. A stiffer chassis was part of the upgraded specifications. Another 140 were built through 1971. Finally, Lamborghini announced the ultimate Miura at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. Dubbed the P400SV, it offered still stronger performance and improved handling. Horsepower was now 385, with separate lubrication for the engine and gearbox. A limited slip differential, completely revised suspension, and a leather interior were added. The rear track, now five inches wider to accommodate wider wheels, necessitated the flaring of the rear body panels. The distinctive, laid-back headlamps lost their “eyelashes” in favor of plain black surrounds. The upgraded horsepower enabled top speeds approaching 180 mph! Approximately 150 SVs were completed prior to the end of Miura production.
This Miura P400S, chassis 3952, is a superlative example in every respect, especially with its faithful upgrade to top SV specification. First, it is important to note that 3952 is incorrectly indicated in the Coltrin/Marchet book Lamborghini Miura as an original delivery in right-hand drive. Rather, it is an original left-hand drive car supplied to Italian dealer Lamborauto in Turin, as confirmed by the original factory production register. Today, it is liveried as it was delivered new, in iconic Verde Miura (lime green), with Skai Beige (a rich caramel color leatherette) seats and door panels, and a Testa diMoro (dark brown) dashboard and center console. Bearing production number 337, it was completed on March 6, 1969. As a numbers-matching example, it is equipped with the correct, original engine, numbered 2871.
As evidenced by historical documents, this Miura was owned by race car driver Ted Titmus from Southern California in the early-1980s. It was brought to Bill DeCar, of Bill’s Body Shop in the Los Angeles area, for a complete restoration at that time. During this period, DeCar was asked to fabricate a GT40-style nose treatment, which was installed, as well as to fit a racing suspension and brakes, dramatically improving the handling, adjustability, and stopping power of the car. But, after a time, the car languished in his shop and, years later, Bill DeCar bought the car for himself. Alas, once again, the car was never completely finished during his ownership.
Enter marque authority and expert restorer Gary Bobileff, of Bobileff Motorcar Company of San Diego, California. In 2009, he purchased the Miura from DeCar and began a comprehensive re-restoration to bring the car back to its original configuration. While in progress, Bobileff sold the car to its current owner, who contracted Bobileff for the completion of the restoration and later requested that the car be further upgraded to P400SV specification. Bobileff Motorcars flared the rear fenders to the precise dimensions of the SV to accommodate the wider SV-spec wheels. The mechanicals have been rebuilt, including the split sump dividing the engine and transmission lubrication systems employed on the SV. The engine features handmade, nickel-plated velocity stacks to aid breathing and incidentally portray an even more aggressive look. And to completely fulfill his consummate vision, the owner commissioned a correctly modified nose, with new front and rear bumpers installed, in addition to new taillights and front lamps, all per SV specification. The car was refinished in its more than striking original colors of Verde Miura with a caramel/tobacco interior (now done in supple, genuine leather).
Since the exacting, comprehensive restoration, the car has been driven fewer than 100 miles. This superb example of a correctly and tastefully upgraded factory Miura ‘S’ is available for a fraction of the cost of a factory SV. Bobileff Motorcars execution is typically and virtually flawless, with remarkable attention to detail and superior drivability. The quality of this car cannot be overstated, and it invites close inspection.
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