Motoring Trailblazers - Lamborghini Miura

Sun 30th Sep 2018

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Lamborghini Miura
Legend has it that the Lamborghini’s influential company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini was not a huge fan of the traditional sporty-race car models which were in vogue at the likes of Ferrari in the early 1960s. Ferruccio favoured sedate grand touring cars over the sexier and speedier motors of his rivals.

So what did the engineering team do? They produced the Miura against his wishes, and in doing so created a classic of both the era and genre.

The Miura is regarded by many as the first supercar ever, but will be more widely remembered as setting the standard for high-performance sports and supercars with the pioneering two-seat mid-engine design. By mounting an engine in the middle instead of the front of a vehicle, the car has more weight over the rear tyres, which gives more traction and acceleration, giving all wheel drive benefits, without the complexity of all wheel drive components.

The Miura put these benefits to good use, when it finally reached production it was the fastest road car available.

But the Miura wasn’t just noted for its speed out of the blocks, being Italian it had certain design credentials to meet and the sleek styling of Bertone’s Marcello Gandini ensured that this was a car which would turn heads, both for its power and looks. Gandini is regarded as one of the most influential motor designers of the 20th century and it was is Miura designs which possibly got his nominated for the Car Designer of the Century.

Feted by the motoring press and public, the Miura was soon put into production with the P400. The name Miura comes from a famous Spanish fighting bull breeder of the time, and the bull would form an iconic element of the Lamborghini brand when it was adopted as the company’s new badge, though that was also in part due to the fact that Ferruccio Lamborghini was born under the sign of the bull, Taurus.

Though an instant classic, the Miura had a very limited production run, only 275 of the P400 were made, 338 of the P400S and the later P400SV which was the last run from 1971-73 saw just 150 built. The Miura did find stardom on the silver screen when it was chosen for the opening sequences of The Italian Job. It also features heavily in pop culture as it was a car owned by Frank Sinatra, was infamously crashed by Miles Davis while high on cocaine (breaking both his ankles), and can be heard revving up in the Van Halen song Panama, as Eddie Van Halen owns one. The Miura is also one of the classic cars revitalised for the video game Gran Turismo.

Thirty-two years after the last production run of the Miura, a concept came along in 2006 which got many enthusiasts hopeful that the legendary motor would be returning to the roads, but thought was soon shot down by CEO Stean Winkelmann when he said: “The Miura was a celebration of our history, but Lamborghini is about the future. Retro design is not what we are here for. So we won’t do the Miura.”