Fifty Years Ago, the First Miura Stormed the Gates of Monaco
On this day, half a century ago, a man named Bob had the best day at work ever.
Imagine yourself, bored in a toll booth in the Northwest of Italy. 1966. Not much traffic, just a few dawdling Fiats off for a weekend trip. Dreaming, maybe, about your date that Friday evening, a dark-haired beauty with flashing eyes and a mother fiercer than a three-headed bear. But then, off in the distance, a howl and a wail, unlike anything you'd ever heard before. Ferrari? No. Different. You snap your magazine closed, crane out of the window to see better. The screaming intensifies. A low, orange swell approaches. Here comes Bob.
Fifty years ago today, Bob Wallace threw his dufflebag into the trunk of the prototype Lamborghini Miura, filled the car with fuel from the pump in front of the factory, pointed that gorgeous nose at Monaco and went right foot down. He'd been responsible for getting the driving dynamics right on the first mid-engined supercar the world had ever seen. And, up to this point, the world had only seen the car, sitting on stage at the Geneva motorshow. Even standing still, the Miura was enough to make Enzo grind his teeth in frustration. They were about to see it run.
The names of the few men who created the Miura sound like Renaissance craftsmen. Gian Paolo Dallara and his team made the chassis. Marcello Gandini clothed it. And then there was Bob.
Bob Wallace was a New Zealand born racer and mechanic hired on to help out with the first Lamborghini, the softer 350GT. His talents behind the wheel and ability to communicate with the engineers soon led to him becoming chief test driver, and he was one of the team that worked on the Miura in the after hours.
Ferruccio Lamborghini had arranged for every toll booth and border crossing to be opened so the Miura didn't even need to slow its pace. The prototype car didn't have any rearview mirrors, but Wallace knew its dynamic limits - he'd honed them himself - and he simply drove flat out, all the way to a reserved parking spot in Monaco.
The Formula One circus was in town that day. James Garner was there to film Grand Prix. The glittering elite of the world clustered around to gawp at the arancia wonder from Sant'agata. Later, they'd watch it take to the circuit for demonstration runs, that V-12 howling through the tunnel as it revved to redline.
The most beautiful car in the world, perhaps never to be equaled. And, at the wheel, a guy named Bob having the best ever day at work, ever.
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