Sports & Classics of Monterey
12 - 14 August 2010
1971 Lamborghini Miura SV
Sold for $825,000
- Chassis no. 4942
- One of 150 Miura SVs (Spinto Veloce) built between 1971-73
- Yellow, black leather interior, designed by Marcello Gandini
- 385 hp, 3,929 cc DOHC transverse V12 engine
- Superb photo documented restoration
- The world’s first “supercar”
When the 1971 Geneva Auto Show opened, the vaunted Lamborghini Miura was five years old, and the SV, the final and best version, bowed. The chassis was stiffened, and in the coming months a split sump oil system would be introduced to separate the engine and gearbox fluids, to the benefit of both.
Most visibly, headlight “eyebrows” disappeared, the rear track was widened and the fenders flared. The rear suspension wishbones were extended 1.5 inches and moved to the top of the frame instead of beneath it. In addition, the rear tires grew from seven inches to nine inches wide, and the wider fenders covered them.
With horsepower bumped to 385, the suspension changes also made the Miura more stable, and at 179.8 mph, it could claim to be the fastest production car in the world. Unfortunately, perhaps, the revolutionary Countach was also introduced at the Geneva show, so the Miura’s achievements were somewhat overshadowed.
Nevertheless, anybody who bought a Miura SV then can rejoice in the decision today. It is not only very rare but also extremely valuable. There was – and still is – something of a glow over the Miura. It was such an emotional project, a vehicle of passion, so to speak. The three designers who brought it to life in 1966, Giampaolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzini and Bob Wallace, were all in their 20s. Dallara and Stanzini were recent engineering graduates, while Wallace was an expert Maserati mechanic. They were also fans of Colin Chapman and his lightweight unitized bodies and fascinated by Eric Broadley’s Lola, which had evolved into the enormously successful Ford GT 40.
What they brought to the mid-engined GT concept was an Italian sensibility and the ability to take something already small and make it even smaller and more sophisticated. For example, turning Giotto Bizzarini’s engine sideways in the frame created a complex problem: how to position the clutch and transmission behind the block in such tight quarters?
The answer was to create a single casting directly anchored to the engine and an integral part of it. The chassis was aircraft-quality construction, with two side-rail boxes connected to a broad central tunnel and boxed trapezoid arms stretching out to the suspension. Look at a diagram – it’s still mighty impressive.
The last part of the puzzle was the body, and after dismissing Pininfarina because of its ties to Ferrari, Lamborghini hired Bertone and 25-year-old Marcello Gandini got the job. His sinuous design was both menacing and exciting, and both front and rear “clamshells” opened to illustrate just how brilliantly compact the whole design was. By the way, the Miura name came from a savage race of fighting bulls raised in Spain for the bullring by Don Eduardo Miura – the equivalent of rodeo stock contractors the Christensen Brothers in the US.
The Lamborghini Miura was immediately THE supercar to have, and 465 P400s were sold between 1966 and ’69, many to the rich and famous. The first car was sent to the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix and planted in front of Monte Carlo’s Hotel de Paris the night before the race. Late at night, Ferruccio Lamborghini had to push through a crowd to start the orange car to show a friend, at which point the crowd multiplied ten-fold. When Bob Wallace drove GP legend Louis Chiron around the track before the race, the triumph was complete.
A further 138 “S” models followed in 1969-71, with better brakes, stiffer frames and more efficient cooling (for the passengers). There were 148 “SVs” built between 1971 and ’73, although one was reportedly constructed for Canadian multi-millionaire Walter Wolf as late as 1975. Not bad for a car that was seen as a publicity project that might sell 50 units…
Road & Track magazine road-tested a Miura “S” in April 1970, recording 168 mph and .85 g on the skid-pad, their highest number yet. They also couldn’t resist a chortle: “we were cruising along at a sedate 120, enjoying the scenery, when all of a sudden there was a Porsche 911S behind us, flashing its headlights and telling us to get out of the way. Normally, polite souls that we are, we’d do just that. But not in the Miura S; instead we shifted down two gears and left the 140 mph Porsche a speck in the rear view mirror.” That brief example told the readers a lot about the Miura, and R&T also included the usual technical and performance statistics.
Our subject car, #4942, was built on October 6th, 1971 and delivered new to German importer H. Hahn in yellow with a black leather interior. It is believed to have gone directly to Japan, where it was featured in the Japanese magazine Supercars’ tracking testing in 2004. While the number of owners in Japan is unknown, it’s clear #4942 was always a running car and not left to mummify in an air-conditioned mausoleum.
Sometime after the magazine article (in which, by the way, #4942 appears to be an incorrect pale yellow), the Miura was sold to a new owner who wanted it restored. The engine and gearbox were removed, and the yellow paint was stripped. The car was painted orange but covered with plastic before it had cured properly, and the finish was ruined. The restoration was halted at that point, and the car was sold to a Rancho Santa Fe collector “as is” in 2007.
The car was found to be extremely sound, with a mostly original interior, black leather seats with blue inserts and a black vinyl dash. The paint was what might be described in England as a “curate’s egg” – very good in parts. When the body was stripped, the original color was found in the door jambs, and it is in that correct deep yellow that the car has been repainted. The trim was all there, though some had been removed and was in boxes, along with the engine and transmission.
On the basis that nobody wants a partially restored 180 mph supercar, the Miura was stripped to its constituent parts and completely rebuilt. More than 400 photos documented the restoration, which took more than a year. The chassis was restored and found to be rust-free. The engine numbers are correct and original to the car, and the engine was rebuilt from the ground up, as was the ZF five-speed transmission and limited-slip differential, Girling ventilated disc brakes, and suspension.
The electric system was replaced with new components. The interior was restored and has been upgraded to be full leather – not just the seats – which was an option when the car was new. The car sits on its original Campagnolo magnesium wheels, shod in Avon tires.
The restoration of this car was performed to better-than-new standards and without regard to cost. The head restorer aimed for a 100-point car, but concedes it is a couple of original hardware pieces away from that, which would be worth tracking down. Nevertheless, the car won Best in Class at the 2009 The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, a very competitive class and thus a superb result that speaks for itself.
Since its restoration, this Lamborghini P400 SV Miura has been driven only 788 trouble-free kilometers. Many thousands lie ahead of it.
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