“I remember this car from when it was built, but never had the chance to
drive it until recently. Dio bon! [local expletive] The acceleration, the
responsiveness, the intense sensations... it’s crazy, an extreme Miura. The
restoration has been very well executed. If it needs testing again, I am
available.” – Valentino Balboni, Lamborghini factory test driver, 1973-2008
Seeking a replacement for the Jota that was destroyed after he had sold
it, Milanese businessman Walter Ronchi turned to former Sant’Agata workers to
transform a P400 S into a Jota-inspired Miura hot rod. The result was the Millechiodi,
named after its riveted construction in the manner of the factory SVJs and Bob
Wallace’s original ‘toy’.
For many years the car was in the Padova collection of Aldo Cudone.
Debuting at Paris Rétromobile this year, ‘4302’ has been the subject of an
exquisite Italian restoration. The Millechiodi is back. And loud.
The Lamborghini P400 S
The prototype Miura P400 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’, 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 improved,
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, 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
This Motor Car
Miura P400 S chassis 4302 started life as a regular, early production
car with solid discs. Finished in Blu Notte with Pelle Nera, it
was delivered on 17 November 1969 to the Turin concessionaire for Lamborghini.
Lamborauto, and registered ‘TO B91445’ in the agent’s name. On 21 April 1971,
the car was sold to another resident of Turin, Maddalena Camoli, retaining its
Signora Camoli’s love affair with the dark blue Miura did not last long:
on 19 May 1972 it was bought by Armando Borra of nearby Alba, who registered it
‘CN 268510’. Later that year (21 November 1972) Lamborauto sold it to Riccardo
Tondolo who registered it in his home town of Andria, Bari, ‘BA 354270’. From
Tondolo, via Rome dealer Carpanelli, it passed to a car showroom, Fratelli
Tarchini of Milan and from 8 November 1973 it bore the mark ‘MI T41567’.
On 11 March 1975 the car was purchased from Tarchini by Giovanni Sotgiu
of La Spezia. So far so (relatively) simple, but at this point the history of
‘4302’ took a dramatic turn. Sotgui was a BMW dealer in Milan and he and
Milanese businessman Walter Ronchi would often buy cars together. Most likely
with the unofficial help of official Lamborghini agent Achilli Motors of Milan,
the pair, with Italian F1 fixer and former racing driver Franco Galli, turned
to two former Sant’Agata workers to transform the P400 S into a Jota-inspired
Miura hot rod. The cost of the work came to some 4,500,000 lire.
Ronchi had, of course, once owned the legendary one-off Jota,
Lamborghini engineer Bob Wallace’s famous ‘toy’. That car was destroyed in an
accident in April 1971, after Ronchi sold it but before it was delivered to a
new home. The intention with Miura P400 S ‘4302’ was to make a ‘pseudo SVJ’,
with a tuned engine, freer-flowing exhausts and body modifications that
included a full-width front spoiler and Plexiglas-covered headlamps.
The result was the ‘Millechiodi’ (‘1000 nails’), named
after its riveted construction in the manner of the factory SVJs and the
long-lost Jota. It was painted British Racing Green and trimmed in black
leather. The car was also used by Galli – who might well have owned it at the
time – for hair-raising drives on northern Italian Autostrada, visiting Monza
and even, as he has said, giving actress Brigitte Bardot a lift… By the
late-1970s it was for sale and displayed in the window of Autoelite, the
specialist dealer on the Viale Cenisio in Milan.
On 3 April 1979 the car was sold to veteran collector Aldo Cudone of
Padova, northern Italy. Cudone was a wealthy collector with an impressive
stable of impeccably maintained Ferraris and Lamborghinis which Simon Kidston
working at Brooks helped disperse at auction after Cudone passed away in the 1990s.
The price paid was 30,000,00 lire and when Ubaldo Sgarzi of Lamborghini
inspected it before purchase he declared it to be in “as new’ condition.
‘As new’ or otherwise, some 10 years later Cudone sent the car to local
race preparation company of note, Michelotto, for a mechanical rebuild. Working
closely with Ferrari, Padova-based Michelotto helped develop the F40 and
built the F40 GTE and 333 SP racing cars. Modena region Ferrari experts
Autosport handled the bodywork, repainting it red. From then until Cudone’s
death the car was stored in Padova, largely unused.
In May 2001, Cudone’s collection was disposed of at auction in Monaco.
Registered ‘PD 618000’, the car was bought by a Swiss collector and was in good
condition, but not faithful to its iconic transformation in the 1970s. It was
returned to Autosport for corrective work, finished in 2003, then delivered to
storage in the UK where it was re-registered ‘WRP 180H’.
Our client bought the car via Kidston SA in 2015 when it was despatched to the best-in-the-business craftsmen of the Modena region for a total, nut-and-bolt restoration to as-converted for Walter Ronchi in the mid-1970s. Carrozzeria Cremonini handled the bodywork, the car was retrimmed by Interni Auto and Gatti attended to the electrics. Ex-Lamborghini family concern Top Motors looked after the engine and running gear, rebuilding the V12 to 4,100cc with bigger pistons and valves, more radical camshafts and a Jota-like exhaust. It now feels noticeably faster than a standard car. In total, the work cost in excess of €290,000.
The men responsible for countless concours trophies finished the project
in time for this year’s Paris Rétromobile exhibition where the gleaming one-off
Miura on Kidston SA’s stand was one of the highlights of the event.
We recently reunited Valentino Balboni with the car for a Kidston video,
a shoot-off between the hotted-up Millechiodi and a blueprinted, freshly
restored 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ driven by ex-Ferrari factory pilot Arturo
Merzario. Both cars were spectacularly fast. Our ears are still ringing…
The subject of such an exquisite Italian restoration, few Miuras apart
from the three SVJs built by the factory in period stir the emotions as much as
this car. Ready for touring, (very) spirited driving on events or showing at
the best concours, the ‘Millechiodi’ is a significant chapter in the
rich history of Lamborghini. You won’t be parking next to another one. And
everyone will know you’re coming.