Who doesn’t love a classic Lamborghini? Not many people and it’s a big year for the luxury Italian car giant as it celebrates its 50th birthday with the tagline “100 years of innovation in half the time”. A bold claim but the company has come a long way since its inception in 1963, with well-known and desirable vehicles from the Countach, through the Diablo to the Aventador now firmly established in luxury motoring circles. However, did you know that one of their earliest sports cars was inspired by the good old Mini at the time?
While you can find many Lamborghinis on sites such as Car Sales, it’s unlikely you’ll locate a Lamborghini Miura as only around 750 were ever made and they now change hands for up to £750,000. So why did a car originally started as a side project by Lamborghini engineers become such an icon?
The Lamborghini Miura, the company’s first mid-engined two-seater, was conceived back in the early days of the company, first appearing on sale in 1966. And it owed a lot of its engineering to the Mini. Lamborghini Chief engineer Gian Paolo Dallara, who went on to become involved in Formula One, including designing cars for Frank Williams, was inspired by the revolutionary positioning of the Mini’s engine. Mounted transversely as opposed to longitudinally, Dallara took this idea and bucked the trend in engine positioning in road-going sports cars of the time. This allowed him to produce a chassis, but only a chassis, which was shown at the 1965 Turin Motor Show.
It’s testament to the confidence that the company had already inspired in its abilities that this chassis led to orders on its own, before the bodywork had even been designed, never mind finalised. Only at this point did the company turn to stylist Marcello Gandini to clothe the car in its iconic bodywork.
Working with a very small, very young team of designers, engineers and draughtsmen, Gandini and Dallara went on to produce what is often regarded as the first supercar. A powerful V12 engine so impressed the well-heeled residents of Monte Carlo that a single revving of the Miura’s engine in the principality’s Casino Square was enough to secure the company 17 immediate orders.
Having been inspired by the Mini, it’s no surprise then that it was the Miura that was chosen to feature in the opening sequence of classic 1969 film The Italian Job, where three Mini Coopers stole the show later on. And it will be no surprise if the Miura is well represented in this year’s Grande Giro Lamborghini, a 1,200km rally through Italy, ending at the manufacturer’s headquarters near Bologna, to celebrate the company’s half century of innovation – albeit built on the design of the humble 1960s Mini.
Categories: Topical General