Is the Lamborghini Miura the Most Beautiful Car Ever?
In which we wish happy 50th birthday to a sultry legend.
This month, Lamborghini is throwing a wild party to celebrate the Miura’s 50th birthday. Miura owners from all over the globe will gather to drive from the factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese to Florence, the “cradle of the Renaissance,” via Cinque Terre, across some of the most spectacular roads on earth. The company’s new in-house heritage studio, PoloStorico, has completed its first full restoration to celebrate the 50th—the car being the first Miura SV, shown at the Geneva Auto Show in 1971, in Verde Metallizata (metallic green). Lines will form outside the official Lambo museum near the factory, with its rare Miuras inside.
If this all feels like an awesome party that you’re not invited to, you’re not alone. We’re not invited either! So we’re throwing a party of our own. If we were to give a toast at the Miura’s birthday party, here’s what our cue cards would look like….
*When the Miura first appeared at the 1966 Geneva Auto Show, it shocked the auto world. It was the world’s fastest production car, built by an Italian company most had never heard of. Top speed was over 170 mph.
*As a company, Lamborghini was less than three years old, and had produced only a few models. Ferruccio Lamborghini was a wealthy builder of tractors and air-conditioners before launching his first car, in 1963. Few Americans knew how to pronounce the word Lamborghini in 1966. Fewer still could pronounce Miura. That would soon change.
*The car was revolutionary. Lamborghini engineers came up with the idea for a racing car on the road, with a unique chassis. It would be the first mid-engine road-going supercar, with a transverse-mounted 4-liter V12 throbbing behind the driver and a five-speed gearbox. But what would the body look like? That’s when famed coach builder Nuccio Bertone comes in.
*As legend has it, Bertone, based in Turin, told Ferruccio, “I’m the one who can make the shoe to fit your boot.” The two shook hands, and work began. Bertone designer Marcello Gandini is most credited with the car’s gorgeous shape. It took just four months to turn an experimental chassis into the road car that debuted at Geneva.
*Soon after the Geneva show, Ferruccio took the Miura to the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. Parked in front of the Hotel de Paris, it drew crowds of oglers. Perhaps that’s when he knew he was onto something big.
*According to Lamborghini, Ferruccio never disclosed the exact reasons why he named this car after a famous Spanish fighting bull. But the name captured the essence of the vehicle beautifully. The great David E. Davis wrote a year after the car appeared: “‘Miura’ is the name of the meanest, wildest bull there is, and old man Lamborghini didn’t call it that for nothing.”
*Today, the original Miura’s zero to 60 time of 6.7 seconds seems laughably slow for a supercar; to be clear, a base Ford F-150 off the lot will make the sprint in almost a half second faster. But in 1966, when the Miura was new, it was racecar quick.
*Ferruccio himself never believed the car would sell more than 50 examples. He was wrong. The Miura became not just a supercar or a fighting bull, but the Trojan horse that put Lambo on the map as an international builder of smoking hot cars. Celebrity Miura owners included Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, the Shah of Iran, among others.
*The Miura had its moment of big screen stardom. Wisely, the camera puts you, the viewer, in the driver’s seat. Take a roaring ride through pristine mountain roads in a Miura in the opening scenes of The Italian Job (1969). Just remember to get out of the car before it goes launching off a cliff…
*Lambo built 470 350-horsepower Miuras from 1966 to 1969. The Miura S came next, with 370 thoroughbreds, and the SV, with 385. Total production: about 760 from 1966 to 1973. The flagship Lambo that succeeded the Miura was a style departure, but did much to continue the growing supercar manufacturer’s street cred. It was called Countach.
*A decade ago, to celebrate the Miura’s 40th, Lamborghini built a new concept Miura. Today it sits in the Lambo museum—which, by the way, is a fascinating place, with a Lamborghini helicopter and Lamborghini Pope mobile…well worth the journey.
*For years, the Miura has scored high on just about every “most beautiful cars” list in existence. One CNN story ranked it #1. The London Independent put it #5, while Popular Mechanics placed it at #8. Where does it belong on your list? Let us know in the comments below.
*Hagerty, the insurer of classic cars, notes that values of Miuras are skyrocketing. If you owned a 1969 Miura in September 2013, the car’s value would have well-more than doubled since that time. What stock could beat that? And what stock could you drive at 170 mph? Even a fair condition example will fetch around $730,000, today. Hagerty sums up the Miura’s mystique eloquently: “Few cars achieve legendary status, while even fewer continue to live up to it by every accepted measure more than four decades after their introduction, but the Lamborghini Miura is just such a car.”
*Happy birthday, old buddy. Let’s spend more time together, no?