1968 Lamborghini Miura RoadsterCoachwork by Bertone
There is only one original Lamborghini Miura Roadster. This is it.
Lamborghini's Miura had burst upon the automotive scene in early 1966, at the Geneva Show, where its combination of innovative transverse mid-engined V12 layout, fully independent suspension and compact packaging were presented to full advantage in the streamlined body designed by Bertone's young new prodigy, Marcello Gandini.
Only four years after taking the decision to manufacture automobiles Ferruccio Lamborghini's company had single-handedly created the concept of the 'supercar' with the Miura. It would take several years for the competition to offer anything remotely comparable with it.
Low, taut and sleek, the Marcello Gandini-designed Miura was perfect for a roadster derivative which Gandini and Bertone created as a show concept for the Brussels Motor Show of January 1968. It was dramatically and thoughtfully different from production Miuras. The Miura Roadster had larger air intakes at the sides of the rollover hoop to capture more cool air for the V12 engine. The rollover hoop itself was lower than the Miura's roof for smoother air flow.
The rear bodywork was reshaped, with different tail lights and a larger rear deck spoiler. The Miura's characteristic slats were eliminated, exposing the 350hp Lamborghini V12 engine. Bertone strengthened the Miura Roadster's box-section side members and roll hoop to make up for the open top structure and a drive in it demonstrates they did their job well: it is tight, rigid and rattle-free.
There was absolutely no provision for a top or even side windows, so although it was described by Lamborghini and Bertone as a roadster it is could accurately be characterized as a speedster, a stripped, elemental, open car designed for high speed driving in fair weather.
At Brussels and later at Geneva in March it was a sensation, the featured concept in nearly every press report and chosen by most observers as the sharpest, cleanest, most attractive production-based concept of the season. Its only rival that year was another dramatic Bertone design, the Carabo which appeared late in '68 at the Paris Show.
Only one Miura Roadster, this car, was ever built in period. In more recent years aspiring owners have on rare occasions converted normal Miuras to targa roof configuration, including one such effort by a Swiss dealer which was shown at the 1981 Geneva Salon, but none of these are to be confused with the real Miura Roadster, and none come anywhere close to the deep and detailed alterations made by Gandini and Bertone for the original.
Following its show career the Miura Roadster returned to the factory and was sold in 1969 to the International Lead Zinc Research Organization, known as ILZRO, in New York to be used in a demonstration project to show the many applications of lead and zinc in automobiles. Working closely with Bertone and Lamborghini, many components were rendered in lead, zinc or their alloys. These included the exterior trim, bumpers and mouldings, interior trim and steering wheel. The Weber carburettors were re-cast with zinc bodies and alloys were used to create engine and transmission covers, the oil pump, filter housings and even the carburettor velocity stacks. Lead sheet insulation was used in the passenger compartment.
Painted iridescent golden-green with a tan leather interior the ILZRO Miura, now re-christened Zn75, over the next decade was shipped all over the world to car manufacturing centres to be shown in motor and trade shows and in private viewings for automobile designers. Its travels were so extensive, and ILZRO's promotional efforts so effective, that the Lamborghini Miura Zn75 has probably been viewed by more people than any other concept car. It was featured in numerous magazines and newspapers and even appeared on the authoritative BBC TV programme Tomorrow's World.
It was then acquired by the Executive Director of ILZRO who used it briefly on the street in Connecticut, before donating it to the Museum of Transportation in Brookline, Massachusetts. Some years later it was overhauled by Museum board member J. Geils at KTR Engineering and was eventually sold by the Museum, going first to a syndicate headed by David Joliffe of Portman Lamborghini in the UK, then to Japan and eventually, via France, to the present US owner in the current decade.
The new owner entrusted the Miura Roadster to famed restorer Gary Bobileff in San Diego, California for a total, 'no expense spared' rebuild to its original 1968 Brussels Show condition. One of the key points in this monumental task included locating a sample of the original metallic blue paint under some of the added zinc details and duplicating it in the original lacquer finish, not a base coat-clear coat equivalent, along with the correct silver to the rocker panels and alloy wheels. The original Marzal show car style steering wheel was re-created and the interior beautifully retrimmed in white leather with red carpets, just as it had been designed by Marcello Gandini and Nuccio Bertone. In all, the invoices for Gary Bobileff's work total over $300,000.
The restoration was completed less than a week before the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where the Miura Roadster took second in the Lamborghini class to the first production 350GT. It received its award on the PebbleBeach ramp where it was driven by a very emotional factory test driver Valentino Balboni. Only a few miles have been covered since the restoration, primarily to shake down and adjust the car so it runs and drives perfectly. In its entire 40 year life, the car has covered just 7,444km...
The 1968 Lamborghini Miura Roadster with Bertone coachwork designed by Gandini is considered by some to be the most important Lamborghini in existence. It certainly is the most important Miura. It has been seen by millions and featured in print and other media all over the world during its time as the ILZRO Miura Zn75 Roaster. It is a show car not only in its meticulously restored and presented condition but also in its unparalleled history. It is absolutely unique, a Lamborghini factory and Carrozzeria Bertone concept car.
All the demonstration zinc and lead pieces that made it the Zn75 have been carefully preserved and will be supplied with the car – creating the intriguing possibility of re-creating the Zn75 on another Miura – and it is in all respects ready to be driven or shown with pride and confidence, the only factory-commissioned Lamborghini Miura Roadster.
Footnote: Consider that Ferrari built no fewer than 106 California Spyders, eleven 275GTB/4 NART Spyders and 121 Daytona Spyders, the best of which changed hands at public auction in 2007 for some $2.2 million. The car we offer is not referred to as "A" but as "The".