Jez Spinks takes a tour of the Italian countryside in a Lamborghini Miura, once considered one of the most beautiful cars in the world.
The Lamborghini Miura had long been replaced by the time car posters popularised bedroom walls in the 1980s, but for many it remains one of the ultimate pin-ups.
Omnipresent in countless Top 10 lists of the most beautiful cars in the world, the Miura first slackened jaws at the 1966 Geneva motor show with its compact and curvaceous bodywork. It was the mechanicals underneath, however, that would set the common template for future supercars: a two-seater cockpit with an engine (V12 in this case) positioned immediately behind it.
As a car that also technically trumped Ferrarisat the time (it also featured double-wishbone front and rear independent suspension), it’s understandable Lamborghini wasn’t going to let the 50th anniversary pass without some form of celebration.
Cue the Miura Tour – a 500km, three-day drive around northern Italy featuring 21 of the 760-odd Miuras that were ever built. Two of them are owned by Lamborghini; the rest have been brought along by a multitude of multi-national owners.
‘Our’ Miura is the third and final version – the 1971 SV that benefited from a range of updates including increased power for the V12, and easily distinguished from the original and 1969 S versions by the surrounds for the pop-up headlamps: they were smooth where the others featured ‘eyelashes’.
Beyond being the world’s first mid-engined road car, the Miura is the antecedent to a long lineage of evocatively titled, wedge-shaped Lamborghinis such as the Countach, Diablo, Murcielago and Aventador. So we’re conscious of the car’s place in automotive history as we stoop below the remarkably low roofline to climb into the cockpit.
That means we forgive the slightly awkward driving position that forces splayed knees, though the ribbed-leather seat is nothing less than comfortable. Everything’s analogue on the dash, of course, with two large dials for the speedometer and tachometer immediately ahead of the driver. A cluster of Jaeger gauges on the centre stack add some sporty elegance to the visuals.
The unassisted steering is bicep-achingly heavy at slow speed but lightens as the V12 starts to work harder. The engine is enjoyable torquey though also more than willing to be revved out, with the V12’s soundtrack increasing in pitch as it does so. The five-speed gearbox is also requires a Gold’s Gym membership, requiring a fair amount of arm power to move the lever between the exposed-metal gates. Yet as the shifter clanks into a chosen gear, it’s still a more rewarding action than simply pulling a paddle as you do on modern-day Lamborghinis. There’s also a suppler ride than you experience in the Aventador, though the latter-day V12 Lambo is far sharper in the bends and also less prone to being upset by mid-corner bumps.
As the Miura Tour completes its passage from Lamborghini’s Sant’Agata base, near Bologna, to Florence, via the picturesque coastal town of Porto Venere, the tight, cobbled streets highlight the Miura’s awful vision. While the view forward is aided by thin A-pillars that wouldn’t survive today’s crash-test standards, judging the space on the passenger side is hindered by the absence of a side-view mirror. Even the one on the driver’s side is so small it may as well be missing, too.
It doesn’t spoil the experience of driving the original supercar, however. Driving the Miura is very much all about looking in the past.