1968 Lamborghini Miura P400 SCoachwork by Bertone
“It’s the fastest car we’ve ever driven on the road, at 168mph. There are others – the new Aston Martin DBSV8, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 – that will give it some competition, but until we’ve driven these, we give it the honour of Fastest on the Road” – Road & Track’s first test of a Miura P400 S in April 1970
The definitive supercar of the Sixties, the Miura needs little introduction. In original P400 form it left its rivals for dead in terms of styling, handling and overall performance. Today, the Miura is considered the original supercar, the motoring landmark that set the template and inspired all Latin exotica that followed, and is frequently voted ‘sexiest car of all time’.
The Lamborghini P400 S
The Miura started life as an ‘after hours’ project from the company’s two young and brilliant engineers: Italians Giampaolo Dallara and Paolo Stanzani, assisted by New Zealander test and development driver Bob Wallace. Partly inspired by the Ford GT40, the new Lamborghini would be a mid-engined GT with very high performance. For reasons of packaging and to offer optimal weight distribution and a low centre of gravity, Lamborghini’s four-cam V12 would be mounted transversely, atop the 5-speed gearbox with which it shared a sump.
When presented with the concept – as yet with no body – Ferruccio Lamborghini was enthusiastic and gave it the go-ahead. A bare chassis was revealed at the November 1965 Turin Show. Even without Bertone’s subsequently stunning coachwork by Marcello Gandini it was a show-stealer. The hastily completed prototype made its debut at the March 1966 Geneva Salon and was the sensation of the week. The orders rolled in for the world’s first mid-engined series production ‘supercar’.
The new model was an immediate hit, but early Miuras were very much ‘works in progress’. The factory found that constant improvements and revisions needed to be made to both productionise the car as well as make it more user-friendly. From 1966 to 1968 Lamborghini delivered a total of 275 P400s, with the bulk of P400 production in 1968.
Late that year Lamborghini offered an updated version, the 'S', for spinto, or tuned, which appeared at the ‘68 Turin Show. The P400 S addressed the original Miura's shortcomings, principally those of handling, build quality and cockpit comfort. It had new Pirelli tyres and its engine was further tuned, with extensive work on the cylinder heads. The factory quoted an additional 20bhp, to 370bhp. Later in production, the P400 S received ventilated brakes.
Inside the car, electric windows replaced wind-ups, the carpets and (optional) leather interior were upgraded, some switchgear was redesigned and there was a passenger grab handle and glovebox lid. Simple air-conditioning was available on the last cars. Most Miuras were still delivered with leatherette (‘Skay’) upholstery. A P400 S can be recognised by its chrome window surrounds and ‘S’ badge on the boot.
Production of the P400 S ran to 338 examples, from November 1968 to early 1971.
This Motor Car
Chassis '3832' was supplied to Italian dealer Eugenio Ferranti of Foligno, Perugia. According to factory and Bertone records it was delivered in vibrant Rosso Corsa with Skay Nero interior and navy cloth seat inserts – the configuration in which it is presented today. As an early car it was fitted with solid disc brakes.
The original Italian certificate of approval, normally surrendered upon registration, remains with the car and is dated 29th November 1968. The first bill of sale, stamped and notarized as was Italian practice for decades, shows that Ferranti sold the new car to Mrs Maria Germagnoli of Piacenza for the not inconsiderable sum of Lire 6,920,368. It is not difficult to see that the then 66-year-old Signora, whose occupation was described as ‘housewife’, was acting as an intermediary: a pencil note in the margin instructs the bill of sale to be sent, upon receipt of a cheque for payment, to the Autosalone Piacenza, a dealer whose partners are listed as Refetti and… Germagnoli. As a footnote, the tax affairs of ladies in 1960s Italy were not normally subject to investigation.
A second, notarised bill of sale documents ownership passing from Mrs Germagnoli to Giulio Vignale, nephew of coachbuilder Alfredo Vignale, resident in Turin. To all intents and purposes, Vignale bought a brand-new Miura S. He kept it in his collection, unseen and undriven, until his death in 2010. Kidston SA was aware of the car, which enjoyed a mysterious reputation in Miura circles, but despite speaking with Mr Vignale we were never able to see it. Instead, unexpectedly, we received a call from a German dealer early in 2014. He had just bought the car and we had 24 hours to decide if we wanted it. We knew a client who did and a deal was done.
The Miura was untouched, decayed, but unique. Detailed inspection with the help of Valentino Balboni suggested it deserved careful preservation, but what also marked it out as a significant car was the wealth of original documentation – in almost ‘as new’ condition – that came with it, and its total originality with so many details such as period stickers, badges and switches that normally go missing in action.
Included with the car are the original:
Certificato di Origine. Dated 21-11-68. The 1968 document that states the originality of chassis '3832'.
Certificato di assistenza in garanzia, with Tagliando A, B and C. The factory guarantee form and three white dockets for 3,000km 8,000km and 15,000 service intervals. These are perforated for tear-off by the service agent, but amazingly still intact.
Certificato di Approvazione. Dated 29-11-68. Certificate of roadworthiness.
Declarations of sale. Two typed and notarised agreements confirming the sale of the car first from Lamborghini dealership Ferranti (Foligno, Perugia) to Maria Germagnoli (Piacenza), then from Mrs Germagnoli to Giulio Vignale (Turin).
Owner’s manual. Original yellow-cover owner’s manual for the Miura P400 S.
Under the careful supervision of Kidston SA, award-winning Italian restorer Top Motors, run by ex-Lamborghini foreman Orazio Salvioli and his son Luca, carried out a sympathetic mechanical preservation of ‘3832’ that included a suspension and engine rebuild. All body and paintwork was entrusted to another Modenese workshop with countless concours prizes to its credit (including best in the Lamborghini Class at Pebble Beach), Carrozzeria Cremonini, while a partial re-trim was completed by nearby Ferrara-based Lamborghini specialists Alessandro Bussolari and Andrea Barbieri. The project lasted from 2014 until 2016 and no expense was spared whatsoever. In our experience there are no better Miura restorers in the world.
In addition to the period documentation, restoration invoices totalling more than €220,000 and detailed professional photographs of the work accompany the car.
During the restoration it soon became apparent that, although nearly five decades had passed since it was first delivered to Eugenio Ferranti, ‘3832’ still showed a wealth of original detail. The experienced restoration team was surprised at the almost ‘time-warp’ condition of the car, and has done everything possible to keep these details intact, all the while working to a brief to recreate the car’s condition ‘as delivered’.
For example, Top Motors’ experienced mechanics found that the factory designed, triangular chassis reinforcement was executed in period, and not a later addition. As a result, the location of the Fiamm air horns and washer bottle was exactly as delivered. Even small items, such as some of the fuse covers and the clutch fluid reservoir cap date from 1968. The chromed Ducellier electric window switches are original – so many have been replaced to match those in the roof headlining. The exhaust is to a factory pattern, not a remanufactured system, and the exhaust tips are the correct ‘trumpet’ style. Even the carburettor air filters bear engravings, not stickers denoting their manufacturer – another seldom-seen feature.
The odometer currently displays 6,380km which we firmly believe, and evidence substantiates, to be the total mileage covered by the Miura from new.
Today, this concours-standard P400 S represents an almost unique opportunity to buy a highly original Miura with interesting ownership history accompanied by a raft of rare period documentation.
In the Miura’s 50th anniversary year, P400 S chassis ‘3832’, resplendent in blazing Rosso Corsa with its elegant interior of black/navy, is without doubt the finest we have ever come across. Judge it for yourself.