The launch of the Lamborghini Miura at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show was the decade’s automotive sensation. Staggeringly beautiful, technically preeminent, and unbelievably quick, it was created by a triumvirate of engineering wizards all in their twenties. For the greater part of its production life the Miura was reckoned to be the most desirable car money could buy, combining drop-dead looks, awesome performance, and unerring stability, as well as an emotive top speed of 175 mph (282 km/h).
From its dramatic swooping lines—even Lamborghini thought it was too futuristic to sell—to its outrageously exotic colors, the Miura perfectly mirrored the middle Sixties. But, as the oil crises of the Seventies took hold, the Miura slipped into obscurity, replaced in 1973 by the not so lovely, and some say inferior, Countach.
In looks and layout the mid-engined Lambo owes much to the Ford GT40 but was engineered by Gianpaolo Dallara. At the core of the Miura is a steel platform chassis frame with outriggers front and rear to support the major mechanicals. The end-of-the-line SV was the most refined Miura, with more power, a stiffer chassis, and redesigned suspension.
The rear fender profile was different on the SV than on earlier models.
In an attempt to silence a violently loud engine, Lamborghini put 4 in (10 cm) of polystyrene insulation between engine and cabin.
Standard interior trim was unimpressive oatmeal vinyl.
Only 150 SVs were built. Very few had a “split sump” that had separate oil for the engine and gearbox.
Acceleration still compares well with modern supercars.
Long, low, and delicate, the Miura is still considered one of the most handsome automotive sculptures ever. The car was so low that headlights had to be “pop-up” to raise them high enough for adequate vision.
Standard Miura headlights were shared by the Fiat 850.
The Miura only came up to waist height— just 42 in (107 cm).
Because the Miura sits so low, it displays virtually zero body roll; therefore there is little warning before the tail slips away, which, with all that power, is likely to happen at high speeds.
The V12 4-liter engine was mid-mounted transversely to prevent the car’s wheelbase from being too long. The gearbox, final drive, and crankcase were all cast in one piece to save space. Beneath the pipery slumber 12 pistons, four chain-driven camshafts, 24 valves, and four carburettors.
Treacherous aerodynamics meant that approaching speeds of 170 mph (274 km/h) both of the Miura’s front wheels could actually lift off the ground.
The Miura has a very impressive power-to-weight ratio—it’s able to produce 385 bhp, yet it weighs only 2,646 lb (1,200 kg).
The gas filler hid under the hood slat.
The cockpit is basic but finely detailed, with a huge Jaeger speedo and tacho. Six minor gauges on the left of the console tell the mechanical story. The alloy gear-lever gate is a handmade work of art.
The gearbox was a disappointment, with a trucklike, sticky action that did not do the Miura’s gorgeous engine any justice.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Lamborghini Miura (1966–72)
PRODUCTION Approx 800
BODY STYLE Two-seater roadster.
CONSTRUCTION Steel platform chassis, light alloy and steel bodywork.
ENGINE Transverse V12 4.0 liter.
POWER OUTPUT P400, 350 bhp at 7000 rpm; P400S, 370 bhp at 7700 rpm; P400SV, 385 bhp at 7850 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Five-speed with trans axle.
SUSPENSION Independent front and rear.
BRAKES Four-wheel ventilated disc.
MAXIMUM SPEED 175 mph (282 km/h) (P400SV)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 6.7 sec
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 15.1 sec
A.F.C. 16 mpg (5.7 km/l)