Back in 2004, I had a tough decision to make. I wanted to add the first Italian to my sports car collection and couldn’t decide between an unrestored Lamborghini Miura, and an unrestored 275GTB/4 formerly owned by Miles Davis. Both of them needed A LOT of work. Both of the cars have easily appreciated 10-15 times, although the Ferrari was, and still is, about twice as expensive. I got hung up over $20,000 on the 4-cam Ferrari, where the seller wanted $250K and I only wanted to spend $230K. That’s a rounding error at today’s prices.
So, I bought the Miura, and it’s been a terrific choice.
One of the unintended by-products of owning vintage sports cars is that the factories have awakened to the marketing value of showing off their now half-century old design and engineering prowess. So, there is basically a “50th Anniversary of Something” happening every week this summer. The factories love using our passion to help them move new iron.
I’m nearly always happy to oblige. Besides, these events look fabulous on your car’s resume, typically adding far more value than the (expensive) price of admission.
A small group of hand-picked Miura owners have just completed the “50th Anniversary of the Lamborghini Miura Tour” that started in Bologna, and finished in Florence. Along the way, we received a private factory tour at the car’s birthplace in Sant Agata, watched the opening of the new Lamborghini Museum, dined with the CEO of Lamborghini and his Board, and met many of the original team that built the car, such as Valentino Balboni (test driver), Paulo Stanzani the chief engineer of the Miura, and toured the wind tunnel/simulator/design/engineering plant of Dallara, the original Miura chassis designer. And that was just day one!
There were spectacularly historic Miuras at the event including Frank Sinatra’s custom made Miura painted in orange metal flake, complete with orange shag carpet and wild boar interior, all to match his corporate jet. There was the Miura used in the (original) movie, The Italian Job, and there was the one-of-one Jota race car. Of course there were P400s, Miura “S” models, and several SVs. It was, at today’s values, a rolling $50 million parade in every dashing color of the Sixties.
We spent the next several days touring the beautiful and ancient villages and countryside in central Italy. Twenty Miuras from around the world made the grid. Several more of them were invited, but they had been sitting in museums for several years and were not road worthy due to lack of use. I remember commenting to the organizers, “I sure hope the factory is planning to send a cavalry of experienced mechanics and parts to follow this group.” And it’s not because Miuras are not great road-worthy cars. But let’s just say a combination of slow crawling traffic down narrow cobblestone streets, high heat and humidity, old tech radiators and fans, and 50 year-old V-12s can create some “issues.”
Several of us decided to christen it the “rolling thunder” tour. Miuras have a loud, stock exhaust. Few owners keep them that way since one of the great joys of Miura ownership is wracking it off for the kids. But there are loud, fantastically loud, and obnoxiously loud exhaust systems, all of which could be heard wailing away in every tunnel, and bouncing off every narrow building in the medieval villages.
And then there was the fellow who just said “screw the mufflers” and ran open pipes with megaphones. There are actually popular YouTube videos of this guy wailing away at ear bleed levels. His only rival among all of the Miuras combined was the special flyover of four Eurofighter Typhoons that buzzed us at the Lamborghini factory.
Let’s see, one Miura caught fire at a gas stop. This was compounded by the fact that the broker who sold the car was also on the tour. That certainly made for interesting international relations, since the poor fellow had bought the car just a few weeks earlier specifically for the event. By the end of the trip it looked like Sweden was once again talking to the UK about staying in the EU.
But the most entertaining moment may have been a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off story for the ages. There were several father-son teams on the tour, and one of them loudly announced “Texas” whenever questioned about their home country. You know the type, kind of cross between Jett Rink and ZZ Top.
Anyway, it was obvious to everyone in the group that the father spent more time on the Concours circuit than he did driving his Miura, but he was quite proud of the fact that he maintained the car himself. He quickly got to know the mechanics when one of his Lucas fans stopped working. You know, Lucas electrics famous for three switch settings–SMOKE, SMOLDER and IGNITE…imagine that!
The fearsome Texas twosome started having real problems on day two with a bad misfire. They theorized that with all of the empty and thirsty Miura’s lined up at the village gas station it was inevitable that someone would get some bad gas from the bottom of the gasoline reservoir. And he may have been right since several other owners’ experienced similar problems that were (easily?) corrected with a plug change, and a full tank of fresh high-test.
Did I mention that his 18 year old son had only received his driver’s license four weeks earlier? Apparently Lamborghini didn’t get that memo, either. So when they were on the side of the road with that cavalry of mechanics I mentioned digging in for a long plug change on the V12, they suggested to the dad that the two of them take the Aventedor to the hotel. And the chief mechanic pointed to the son and said, “He can drive.”
A 2016 Lamborghini Aventedor retails for $400,000, has 700 horse power, weighs 3,400 lbs., and can reach a top speed of 217 mph. It is an incredible instrument of modern technology, made all the more impressive after having watched them being lovingly manufactured only days earlier.
But it didn’t have a “nanny cam.” It should have been so equipped.
With comments circulating among the group like, “launch control may be better than sex,” “150 mph comes up quickly,” and “the brakes on this thing are so strong it will tear your face off,” one can imagine that this was no ordinary test drive. Upon arrival the father was shaken and ashen, and the son grinning from ear to ear.
But leave it to Lamborghini to deliver on what has to be the greatest automotive parties, the finest accommodations, the most beautiful cars, and the best customer service in the world. This two minute video, produced by Lamborghini, is absolute proof that you can have a world class experience in a 50 year-old sports car.
The Miura is a timeless automobile, with its place in history as the “World’s First Super Car” richly deserved. The massive crowd of picture-taking spectators that met us at every stop proved that the world still cares. About 18 of the Miura’s finished the tour, too, a surprising number considering the sometimes harsh conditions over 500 kilometers thanks to an outstanding group of mechanics and support personnel.
One decade from now, I’m sure Lamborghini will be celebrating the “60th Anniversary of the Miura.” However, they may really want to consider nanny cams, particularly on the loaner supercars.
The Mysterious Mr. X