At the end of World War II Ferruccio Lamborghini satisfied his desire for fast cars by running the cars made by Fiat. Mr. Lamborghini himself ran a small machine shop at the time but gradually turned to the manufacture of tractors as the major effort and occupation of his enterprise and efforts. Business went so went with the tractor trade and industrial empire that by the age of 60 Lamborghini turned his attention to his real love – building a car himself. It seemed that Lamborghini thought that with his talents he could design, develop and build a better automotive product that either Maserati or Ferrari.
The chassis was multi-tubular, the front mounted engine a 3.5 liter V12 with four overhead camshafts and six authentic Weber carburetors ; driving through the ubiquitous ZG five speed into a limited-slip rear-end it produced 360 horse power and a coil and wishbone independent suspension meant that all power was indeed usable.
The bodywork was a closed coupe designed by the famous Paolo Dallara and featuring retractable headlamps at the leading edge of the now typical flat curve of the Italian sports car. One must remember that this all occurred in 1963, 20 years before anything built in the U.S. – that is other than the Chevrolet Corvette – featured similarly clean aerodynamic lines.
But the first Lamborghini was a one-off for the men who built tractors, and although he went on to build about 200 of these cars over the next two years; it was by no means accepted as a super car, at the time. Indeed it took until 1965, at the world famous Turin Motor Show, that Lamborghini himself crossed the dividing line between the rich man’s toy and the specialist motorcar maker. Originally a Dallara inspired spyder, the Miura T400 which went into production for the coming 1966model year was a mid-engined coupe with a slightly larger, four liter version of the ohc V12 slung transversely behind the two seats, driving the rear wheels by spur gears. This time Lamborghini built his own gearboxes and rear axles, the frame was a box section affair beneath the monococque body. The whole lot, in the end, weighed in at 2700 lbs.
The V12 gave a mighty 385 bhp. Top speed of this little coupe indeed coupe could top even 180 miles per hour and made it one of the fastest road cars ever – certainly enough to place along the best that wore the prancing horse of the neighboring Ferrari factory.
It was no wonder that the Lamborghini Miura was instantly accepted into the super car league and remains to be said to be one of the best looking and most attractive vehicles that Lamborghini ever gave his name to. Certainly the Miura was most uncompromising and might easily have been for designed for endurance racing at Le Mans rather than for road use. It has been said by critics of the marquee that this is reflected in the high levels of cockpit noise created as all the elegant and powerful precision machinery whirred into vibrant life virtually just inches behind the driver’s ears, something which is typical of high performance mid-engine sport cars. However fans of thorough bred Italian machinery will state that they would rather listen to this wondrous purr than a cell phone or modern ipod – or even the conversation of their passenger.