The Bond Street Sale / 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400S Coupé Chassis no. 4256 Engine no. 30421
Sold for £1,067,800 inc. premium
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"But step back for a minute and work out what makes the Miura so special. In 1966 there was nothing like it. Only racing cars and the obscure little French Bonnet/Matra Djet had mid-mounted engines. Ferrari's road-going mainstay was the traditional front-engined 275 GTB. So when tractor magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini stole the attention of the Geneva Salon crowd with the Miura, people were shocked as much by its audacious mechanical layout as they were by its era-defining and stunningly gorgeous styling." – Classic Cars, July 2004.
Ferruccio Lamborghini's bold challenge to Ferrari had begun in 1964 with the 350GT but it was the arrival of the Miura - arguably the founder of the supercar class - that established Lamborghini as a major manufacturer of luxury sporting cars. Prior to the model's official debut at the 1966 Geneva Salon, Lamborghini cars were respected for their impressive mechanical specifications but they somehow lacked a distinctive persona. All this changed with the arrival of the Miura, named after Don Eduardo Miura, a famous breeder of fighting bulls. The Miura project first surfaced as a rolling chassis displayed at the 1965 Turin Motor Show but was not expected to become a production reality. Nevertheless, by the time of the Geneva Salon the following year, the first completed car was ready for unveiling to an awe-struck press and public.
Writing in his book, Lamborghini (1985), Jean-Marc Sorel had this to say about the Miura's significance: "Thanks to the Miura, Lamborghini made a breakthrough unsurpassed in automotive annals, even reaching the point of worrying Ferrari and Maserati on their own territory, its two powerful neighbours..."
The car's technical specification was breathtaking in its sophistication and complexity. Designed by Gianpaolo Dallara, the Miura carried its transversely mounted engine amidships in a box-section platform chassis, the latter clothed in stunning coupé coachwork styled by Bertone's Marcello Gandini. Like the contemporary 400GT, the Miura used the 4.0-litre version of Lamborghini's Giotto Bizzarrini-designed four-cam V12. With 350bhp available, the Miura was capable of shattering performance, a top speed of 180mph (290km/h) being claimed. Production examples were independently tested at more than 170mph, confirming that the Miura was the world's fastest production car. Perhaps surprisingly, Lamborghini's assessment of demand for its new baby would prove to be way out: instead of the 20 sales expected for the first year of production (1967), they ended up delivering 108 cars.
Early in 1968, after the 125th car had been completed, the steel used in the chassis was increased from 0.9 to 1mm in thickness, while from April that year customers could specify a leather interior. They also had a wide choice of eyeball-popping exterior colours that would be unthinkable on a Ferrari, Maserati or – heaven forbid – an Aston Martin. It all helped to cement the Miura's reputation as the brash new kid on the block.
Initial development had concentrated on chassis strengthening, these improvements being consolidated in the more powerful Miura 'S', for spinto (tuned), introduced at the Turin Motor Show in 1968. Produced from January 1969, the Miura P400S featured a more-powerful (370bhp) engine and was outwardly distinguishable from the preceding model by its wider tyres. Other improvements included a quieter transmission, electric windows, better quality interior fittings, leather trim and a re-routed exhaust system that left room for a larger luggage compartment. Later, Series II examples benefited from ventilated brake discs that markedly reduced fade. Around 140 were built before the introduction of the SV version in 1971. Production of the original P400 effectively ended when the successor 'S' version was introduced, by which time a little over 470 of these wonderful cars had been produced. The 'S' would not be so numerous, only 140 examples leaving the factory between 1969 and 1971.
Bertone build number '409', the Miura S we offer was delivered on 8th October 1969 in left-hand drive configuration. The car was originally finished in red with black interior and equipped with air conditioning. Hand-written notes on file and the factory records state that the Miura was purchased new by a Mr Drummond. According to the notes, this was playboy George Drummond, one-time racing team patron, who owned the Lamborghini until HMRC impounded the car for legal reasons. The Miura was retained until 1974 before being sold.
The first owner recorded on DVLA scans of old logbooks is a Craig Dent of Derby, then a Mark Denton of Sheffield followed by an Alastair Laurie on 31st March 1976 (in Dalbeattie). Previous owner Mel Farrar recalls purchasing the car from Mr Laurie and driving it back from Scotland in the snow! In his ownership the engine was rebuilt, and he believed that the car was converted from left- to right-hand drive while in Scotland. The Miura was acquired by the late Malcolm Bishop in 1995, since when it has been registered in his name and that of his companies, and has been driven sparingly (see minor invoices for parts on file).
Marque specialist Iain Tyrrell inspected '4256' in November 2022 and Bonhams would like to thank him for preparing the accompanying condition report, a summary of which is as follows:
This car's body/chassis could be described as a solid but typical 'pre-restoration' Miura. All visible chassis areas are sound but covered in non-factory paint and surface rust. The front floor section, ahead of the bulkhead, has been replaced with a new welded-in section at some time, either due to rust or light damage (over a small bump for example). There is an extra plate welded under the chassis rear cross-member, probably to cover dents; quite usual, as this is where Miuras are commonly jacked-up without proper care. The chassis and structure's visible areas again show no appreciable signs of accident damage/repair. This is reinforced by the Bertone build number (always 100 more than the actual factory build number) '509' being still stamped with the correct font on all areas, including doors, front and rear clams, bulkhead and rear slats. The paintwork and chrome are aged. The boot floor has some cardboard covering up a small aluminium section that is missing. The rear light surrounds and other sundry items are missing from the body.
The front and rear suspension have been cosmetically restored, albeit not with correct finishes. There is play in virtually all the front ball-joints, and the R/H/R road spring is rubbing against the damper. It should be noted that the front hubs require immediate attention having been inadvertently exchanged left to right during the previous front suspension repainting. This is a serious but easily rectified safety issue, but currently the wheel spinners undo rather than self-tighten when the car is driven. All five wheels are the original magnesium-alloy Campagnolos. They all have paint reaction/poor paint issues. The tubeless tyres have been fitted with tubes and no protective valve sleeves.
The original matching-numbers engine is in good order, with good oil pressure and acceptable cylinder leak-down readings (list available). It is very likely that a proper service and tune-up will lower these readings still further. The carburettors are out of adjustment. The cylinder head mating surfaces are showing very slight erosion. Antifreeze/corrosion inhibitor is in the cooling system, protected down to -15°C. The dipstick pull has come adrift, and the upper exhaust heat shield has been modified. The gearbox is excellent, with good synchromesh, no undue noises and a comparatively (for a Miura) easy change action. There are a couple of small engine oil leaks. All air conditioning apparatus has been removed, probably during the car's conversion to right-hand drive.
The door trims and headlining are almost certainly factory original. The seats and centre console have been re-trimmed in red/black leather to replace the original 'skai' (vinyl). The instrument bezels have been chromed, which is non-original, and various parts of the dashboard have been fabricated to non-original design to facilitate the conversion to RHD. The L/H door drop glass is scratched. The electrics had various faults at time of test, including erratic rear lights (most likely caused by a poor earth) and erratic front indicators.
I can confirm that this car started life as a LHD example. This is borne-out by the following:
Fuel tank re-profiled from LHD to accept RHD steering column
Both front and rear clamshell releases orientated for LHD
Evidence of brake and clutch master cylinders having been fitted on L/H side
Some dashboard parts fabricated from scratch to non-original design when converted
My overall conclusion is that this is a very sound restoration project. Bearing in mind the very small numbers of RHD Miuras built, it might be just as well to keep this car in its present RHD configuration. It was converted early in its life, and consequently has been like this for many years. Alternatively, it could be returned to factory-original LHD should the next owner so wish. This car is fully matching-numbers, which is another benefit. Altogether an interesting and worthwhile basis from which to work.