The Lamborghini Miura is a sports car built in Italy by Lamborghini between 1966 and 1973. A mid-engined layout had been used successfully in competition, including by the Ford GT40 and Ferrari 250 LM at Le Mans. De Tomaso had produced a road car with this layout, the Vallelunga, but otherwise cars designed for the road were almost uniformly front-engined, rear drive vehicles. The Miura was a trendsetter, the one that made the mid-engined layout de rigueur among two-seater high performance supercars. It is named after the Spanish ranch Miura, whose bulls have a proverbial attack instinct.
Inspired by the Ford GT40, the Miura astonished showgoers at the 1965 Turin Motor Show where only the chassis was shown, with multiple orders being placed despite the lack of an actual body. Later, Marcello Gandini from Bertone, who would later go on to design almost all of Lamborghini's cars, was chosen to design the body. Both body and chassis were launched five months later at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show. It was a sensation, with its flamboyant bodywork and unusual engine and clam-shell opening hoods on both the front and rear of the car. There was a small trunk located in the very rear of the tail behind the engine.
Early Miuras, known internally as P400s, were powered by a 3.9 L version of the famous Lamborghini V12 engine mounted transversely and producing 350 hp (260 kW). 275 P400s were produced between 1966 and 1969, a success for Lamborghini despite its then-steep $20,000 USD price (approx. $114,000 in today's terms). The original Miura engines had the gearbox in the sump of the engine, and the gearbox shared the engine oil for lubrication. This necessitated frequent and consistent oil changes.
The P400S Miura, also known as the Miura S, made its introduction at the Turin Motorshow in Novermber 1968, where the original chassis was introduced 3 years earlier. It was slightly revised from the P400 with its newly added power windows, bright chrome trim around external windows, new overhead inline console with new rocker switches, minor revision engine internals, notched trunk end panels(allowing for slightly more luggage space). Engine changes were good for an additional 20bhp. Other revisions were limited to creature comforts, such as glove box door, reversed position of cigarette lighter and windshield wiper switch and single release handles for front and rear body sections. 338 P400S Miuras were produced between Dec 1968 and March 1971....
The last and most famous Miura, the P400SV or Miura SV featured different cam timing, bigger valves and altered carbs, which increased fuel consumption so much that the factory offered a larger 110 litre fuel tank as an option. These gave the engine an additional 15 bhp, to 385. The engine also had a split sump, in that the gearbox now had its lubrication system separate from the engine, which allowed the use of the appropriate types of oil for the gearbox and the engine. The SV can be distinguished from its predecessors from its lack of "eyebrows" over the headlights and wider fenders to accommodate the new 9-inch wheels and Pirelli Cinturato tires. 150 SVs were produced, including one that was owned by Frank Sinatra.
This one-off Miura (#747) was the development of Lamborghini Development Driver Bob Wallace in 1972, and only one was built initially as a powerful test mule for future Miuras. Lamborghini were forced to sell this car off due to financial problems in the late seventies. In 1980, upon delivery, the driver and a passenger totalled this particular model and survived without any injuries. Lamborghini has since built a replica of this car.
Once customers heard about the Jota, they requested their own "Jota" Miura called the SVJ, and so only 5 were built, all of which still exist.
One of the most high profile model was the Metallic Red Burgundy model (#4934), former property to that of the one of the company's best customer, HIH the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, he stored this car under armed guard with another SV in Royal Palace in Tehran.
Later, as he fled the country during the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the car with many others were seized by the Iranian government and was later sold into Dubai in 1995. In 1997 this car was sold via a Brooks auction to Nicholas Cage, at US$490,000, becoming the marque's highest ever price sold in an auction. Cage has since sold the car in 2002.
Another one-off, the Miura Roadster (actually more of a targa-model, but without any removable roof) was built as a publicity stunt. After having been exhibited at several auto salons the car was sold to a group of companies in the metal business who turned it into a display-vehicle showcasing the possibilities of using their various metal alloys in cars. The car still exists today and has been frequently replicated.
P400 SVJ Spider
This version of the Miura was actually displayed in 1981 at the Geneva Motor Show by Lamborghini, shortly after the new CEO Patrick Mimran took over the factory. The car was actually the yellow Miura S presented at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, reconstructed in 1980 in Spider by the Swiss Lamborghini Importer, Lambomotor AG. The Miura SVJ Spider was displayed on the Lamborghini stand with the other 1981 new models (Jalpa and LM002), equipped with wide wheels and a rear wing, in the context of the marque's revival, it was considered as a prototype for a possible limited series of Miura Spider.
Early Miuras were notorious for being a fire hazard. The problem was caused by Lamborghini's decision to use Weber 40 IDL 3C1 carburetors which were designed exclusively for racing applications and weren't suitable for road use. The problem occurred when the car sat idling (e.g. at a stoplight), the area above the throttles filled with fuel which often ignited when the car accelerated away from the stop. One of Lamborghini's engineers devised a modification for the carburetors which created a fuel-return. Ferrari, who used these same carburetors in one of their cars, and suffered the same problems, were able to use Lamborghini's modification to solve it.
Some other interesting details: the position of the fuel tank is at the front causing the vehicle to have less weight at the front as the fuel tank gets lighter (closer to empty), thus making the car more difficult to handle at 150+ MPH. Another detail is that the doors resemble a bull's horns when it is opened wide (Lamborghini's logo itself depicts a raging bull).
In 2004, Sports Car International named this car number four on both the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s and Top Sports Cars of the 1970s. The car was ranked number four on the list of the Top Sports Car of All Time.
Configuration: 60 degree V12, DOHC
Top speed: 288 km/h (179 mph)