The Real Story Behind the Orange Lamborghini Miura in The Italian Job
Found after decades in an underground vault, is this really the car from the movie?
You know the iconic Lamborghini Miura from The Italian Job. Pulled from the factory, driven on-camera for a weekend, and then spirited away. The stuff of legend, lost for the ages. Now, an orange over white 1968 Miura is up for sale in England. Everyone thinks it’s the movie car, but even the factory can’t verify its authenticity. Will we ever know for sure?
The car’s star-making turn came early. In the opening minutes of the movie, a tangerine Lamborghini Miura zooms over an Italian viaduct—the cinematography from The Shining, punched up with the world’s first supercar. A Sixties swinger type, with long silver sideburns, sunglasses and a cigarette, mats the accelerator and roars into a dark tunnel, to emerge shortly after as a corpse in a crumpled Lamborghini coffin. The mafia, as is its wont, had murderously hidden a bulldozer inside the pass.
That scene depicts a human tragedy, but for car lovers, the bigger twinge comes with the apparent destruction of one of the most beautiful cars of all time. The sight of crumpled steel in Arancio Miura is more painful than listening to Michael Caine, a fellow star, vocalize How many handsome house-guests are having halibut instead of hamburgers? in cloud of cockney spittle.
It took two cars to make that heartbreak: one perfect Miura P400S, one previously-wrecked Miura shell. The latter, aftering tumbling down half an Italian mountain and into a river, was never seen again—members of the film crew assume some conniving local saw the crash and retrieved the wreck from the riverbed after nightfall.
That leaves the driving car, assumed to be chassis number 3586, now for sale from Cheshire Motorcars. While some factories might be able to produce detailed logs for every car they’ve built, Lamborghini, now in the midst of a reorganization of its archive, cannot. So, absent surefire verification, it’s impossible to know that this orange car is the car from the film. Some old Lamborghini employees and esteemed Italian historians deny as much, flatly. Still, here is why Octanemagazine, Cheshire Motors and the internet at large believes this car, 3586, has a legitimate claim to fame.
In The Italian Job, the movie car’s exterior and interior are visible: orange over white. Only one 1968 Miura bore such a combination. Originally, 3586’s birth certificate specified red paint and a black leather interior. However, handmade corrections to the build sheet read “white leather” and an additional sales department memo requests Arancio Miura. That’s a match.
There’s also the matter of dates. The first scene of The Italian Job was filmed in the Great St. Bernard Pass on the last week of June, 1968. Records show that car 3586 was delivered to the distributor on June second, leaving a perfect window in which to disconnect the odometer, drive the car up the pass, film the requisite action shots and return the car to the lot.
Lastly, there’s a matter of stitches. In the sixties, Lamborghini employed a team of mostly older women to stitch all the leathers in the canvas by hand. As good as those fingers were, the handmade nature of the project meant every car was a little different: seams were less than flush, perforations were uneven, and the leather had divots. The crack journalists at Octane did the photographic forensics and found this: every loose stitch, hole, and crack visible in stills from the movie appears in car 3586, the Lamborghini Miura P400S now up for sale. Like a fingerprint, the the whorls of the car’s leather interior and its errant stitches are unlike any other in the world. To replicate such minutiae would be near impossible.
For all the detective work done to track down this car, and the hoards who contest its legitimacy, there’s the solid fact that regardless of its pedigree, this car is a pristine example of a second-series P400 with 12,000 original miles. Is it the “Italian Job Miura”? Probably. Would a potential owner mind much to find that this weren’t the case? Would he grimace as he wound the V12 to 6500 revs, stroked the chalky white leather and caught a glimpse of the world framed through vintage Lamborghini louvers? Probably not.