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Miura P400

Miura P400

By Mark Smeyers on January 28. 2011 in Miura.

After only three years of production, during which Ferruccio built the very nice 350 GT and later the 400 GT, he stunned the world by showing an innovative rolling chassis at the 1965 Turin Auto Show.
This chassis showed a transversely mid-mounted, compact V12 engine, something the world had only seen in pure bred race cars before, but never on a road going exotic.

With this new design, Lamborghini was years ahead of the competition, which laughed at him, they stated he would never be able to put this into production ... they couldn't have been more wrong.

It still took the small firm several months, but with the help of Bertone and the genius of Marcello Gandini, who's name was linked to the amazing design of this new Lamborghini, Ferruccio was able to show a finished show car by the 1966 Geneva Auto Salon in March.

Granted, this was still a prototype, using 0.8mm sheet steel and bearing chassis number 0509 with a wheelbase of 2460mm ... note that the prototype chassis was rolling on genuine Borrani wire wheels, but now the Miura was riding on specifically designed Campagnolo wheels.

Still the overall design was set for the production model, however the chassis would be made from 0.9mm steel and the wheelbase a bit longer at 2500mm to improve interior space for the driver and passenger.

Avid customers and designers from the competition nearly fell over each other to get a glimpse of this brand new super exotic car. Ferruccio Lamborghini intended to build only a handful of these, all on special order, but soon demand grew beyond his wildest dreams.

Automobili Lamborghini still had a lot of work to do on the Miura, a name taken from the ferocious Spanish fighting bulls which would be a suitable name for their latest P400 creation.

The initial 'Geneva' prototype used a glass engine cover, but that soon proved totally useless to draw hot air out of the engine bay. They even made additional holes in the glass and an extra air intake into the roof to draw fresh air into the cockpit.

Bob Wallace would perform most of not all on road testing with this new super car, but the cooling of the engine remained an issue on this car, so Automobili Lamborghini went to work on a second prototype, this time with louvres on the engine cover.

At that time using louvres on a super car was yet unseen, because of their angle they both allowed decent rearward vision for the driver and pulled hot air out of the engine bay, hence keeping the engine cool ... note that this kind of louvres would be installed on lots of cars later on as a 'tuning' item.

In total Lamborghini built three pre-production prototypes, chassis numbers 0706, 0862 and 0961 before the first Miura was delivered on December 29th 1966 to Lambocar, the Milan dealership. Continuing customer deliveries started in 1967 with actual production Miura having a 10mm higher roof and seats lowered into the chassis by 10mm to further improve creature comfort inside this amazing exotic.

Chassis number 3312 marked another major modification in the Miura production, this was the 125th P400 made and now used a full 1 mm steel for the chassis ... customers complained about chassis flexing under hard cornering, so they made the sheet steel used thicker to stiffen up the underpinnings of the Miura, many owners would have their Miura modified on the end to counteract any flexing on early chassis.

Note however that vision from the interior rear view mirror was restricted by a quad setup of triple Weber carburetors, a magnificent sight in itself, anyway, those driving behind you would never be able to keep up anyway. The official top speed of the original Lamborghini Miura was set at 280 Km/h (174 Mph) and acceleration figures of 6.7 seconds to reach 100 Km/h while the 100 Mph was obtained in only 14.3 seconds.

All this from a very compact V12 engine that delivered no less than 350 Bhp at 7000 rpm and sat inches behind your ears when seated behind the steering wheel, with a special Visarm glass to keep noise bearable, which didn't work in the end, the cockpit could become very hot ... and a climate control system wouldn't be available until years later.

With a very sensual styling the Miura became an instant hit, but it had some items that required constant attention from the lucky owner ... riding at only 1055 high with a ground clearance of a mere 130mm the sidewalk suddenly becomes a very expensive problem, also those magnesium wheels look stunning, but don't dent them ... another very expensive mistake these days.

A Lamborghini Miura looked fast, and with that much power on hand it was fast ... but it could suffer from a severe front lift towards the 280 Km/h top speed, so many owners reverted to installing chin spoilers or small fins on the front corners to keep the nose down at high speeds.

Still the Lamborghini Miura P400 was a masterpiece in automotive history, people still regard this car as one of the most innovative models ever to be built in Italy, let alone in Sant'Agata by a company that was founded a few years earlier ... the Miura P400 model was built in 475 units before an even wilder version, the P400 S was introduced.

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