Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
This dramatic road car lifted Lamborghini
to the manufacturer of advanced supercars, surpassing Ferrari
in some pundits eyes. Ferruccio Lamborghini used a young team to design a super-sportscar and they used principles from the latest F1 cars and sports racers. Ferruccio deemed this car to be more of a show car, but the Miura (named after a Spanish fighting bull) became one of Lamborghini's biggest and most profitable models.
The engine was a 350bhp V12 and was mounted transversely behind the cockpit. At the back of the engine was a special transaxle with a light alloy crank case seen as unique in such a high performance vehicle. Coil springs and wishbones suspended the chassis. Marcello Gandini added some appealing style to the Miura. "Eyelashes" were added to the flip-up lights along with a louvered engine cover making it arguably the best-looking Lamborghini ever.
A year later it went into full manufacture with its top speed being 273 km/h and its balance, traction and cornering putting it head and shoulders above the rest. Its only complaints were noise whilst driving, and the heavy gear change. The S model of 1969 had a stiffer chassis, its tyres
were wider and its suspension
was better. It also had vented disc brakes, air-conditioning and power windows.
SV was seen as the best with its redesigned front and rear suspension
which stopped aerodynamic
lift. The SV lasted only one year, finishing in 1972
The Miura P400SV
In early 1970
there were widely circulated rumors that Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini were folding up. These rumors were born from the sale of the tractor factory to Fiat (after an American bid), but Commendatore Lamborghini never had any intention of closing or selling the Sant' Agata plant - instead, during 1970
he was busy enlarging it for production of the then new Piccola P250. By the end of the year, Lamborghini had produced some 440 cars, and by 1971
this was increased to nearly two cars per day - roughly one Espada and half each of a Jarama and a Miura.
Half the production was exported - all three current production cars were homologated in the US, having met the stringent smog and safety regulations. At the 1971
Geneva show Lamborghini unveiled the Miura P400SV and the LP500 - as well as the first Swiss appearance of the Urraco P250. The Miura P400SV was an uprated version of the P400S - the V stood for veloce, or speed (hence Super Veloce - super fast). In appearance the SV was somewhat more severe than its predecessor, but incorporated a number of technical refinements, and was built to order only, while the normal S version continued in production as was.
Physical differences between, the SV and the S were most marked in the area of the new air intakes and larger rear wheel wells. Power output was upped to 385 bhp at 7850 rpm, with a maximum torque of 268.6 lb/ft at 5750 rpm. The chassis, too, was modified and reinforced and the rear suspension carried larger rims (9L x 15 in., with 7L x 15 in. on the front) and larger wishbones for a wider track measurement. The design itself of the rear suspension
was all new, and provided considerable improvement in the geometry and its dynamic variations.
The Miura LP500
The Lamborghini Miura LP500 was described by its makers as an "ideas" car, with bodywork
. It represented a large investment in terms of time, effort and lire. The LP stood for the longitudinal position of the engine, which was the basic 60 degree Lamborghini V12 enlarged to five litres and set in the centre of the car, towards the back, turned back to front and driving the rear wheels. It is novel in that the gearbox was also turned back to front, with torsional drive shaft through the sump and final drive in the sump casing. The block also had additional ribbing for torsional stress resistance.
The Miura LP500 as a whole represented the collage of still more refined technology than the P400SV Miura. The inboard rear engine
location was a concession to weight distribution and consequently to road-holding, and was not a new feature for Lamborghini - except that all the previous models had their mills across the frame, not along it. Of course, the normal gearbox position with a longitudinal inboard rear donk was to go all racing-car and tack the gearbox on behind. In the Lamborghini arrangement, however, the engine had the central position between the final drive and the gearbox, which therefore faced the cockpit.
The advantages of this arrangement not only involved road-holding (because of a better weight distribution, or directional stability at high speed due to the close position of the centre of gravity to the aerodynamic pressure centre, less sensibility to side wind), but also many other problems connected with rear engined cars. First, the engine itself could be taken over from a classic front-engined car and didn't need to be especially made. Further, this layout made for better accessibility to all components in need of periodic servicing, such as the water pump, the alternator, the air conditioning unit, the ignition distributor and various belts, which were now facing the back of the car.
Finally, the gearbox retained its direct linkage for a quiet, quicker and safer gear-change. The engine of the LP500 represented a logical development of Lamborghini's well-known V12 four OHG units. Cubic capacity was increased to 4971 cc (85 x 73 mm). The compression ratio was 10.5:1 and the power output 440 bhp DIN at 7400 rpm with a maximum torque of 333.3 lb/ft at 5000 rpm. Mixture is supplied by six horizontal twin carburettors of 42 mm. The pressurised cooling system
centred on two cross-flow coupled radiators each fitted with two electric fans. Radiators were located sideways in the engine compartment and took air from the outside via two air intakes in the body.
The motion from the clutch was given directly to a five-speed unit without direct drive, which was based on the design and gear arrangement developed for the Urraco
. Power to the rear wheels was supplied by two constant velocity shafts. As mentioned above, the Lamborghini LP500 was styled by Bertone
, and the all-steel body
was of monocoque construction. Suspension
was independent all around, and employed unequal length wishbones, coil springs
, telescopic dampers and an anti-roll bar
front and rear. Brakes were self-ventilated discs on all four wheels, with independent circuits to front and rear. Steering
gear was rack and pinion. The car was fitted with radial low profile tyres
on cast magnesium rims of 7 in. x 14 in. on front and 9 in. x 14 in. on rear. Overall dimensions were: length 4010 mm, width 1820 mm, height 1030 mm. The weight with the two side fuel tanks filled (2 x 80 litres) is of 1250 kg.
The Lamborghini Jota
The Lamborghini Jota was a one-off almost-race car that the Lamborghini factory described as a Mobile Research Laboratory. It's the Lamborghini "Jota", referred to as the "J". While basically a Miura, the "J" was different in many respects. Forward of the engine bulkhead the chassis was almost standard Miura but aft the chassis was both lighter and stronger. Both front and rear suspensions followed race-car design with tubular wishbones rather than stamped members.
The body was mostly of riveted Avional panels. Special Campagnolo wheels were made for the car. The show car was shod with Dunlop racing tyres, however during its development it covered around 12,500 miles shod with Pirelli's, the testing taking place and the latter’s then new Vizzola test track near Milan. This track had different types of road surfaces and portions were lined with sprinkler systems which could simulate rain conditions. From these tests a new rain tyre was developed for Lamborghini which was (claimed) to be very "sticky" in the wet.
Many of the ideas tested on the "J" Miura were incorporated on production cars - these included ventilated disc brakes, lower rear suspension arms, trapazoid in form rather than the previous triangular layout and constant velocity joints on the half shafts. Top speed for the Jota was not officially recorded but the Miura "S" was over 185 mph, and the engine was hotter and the body more aerodynamic on the "J". Other innovations on the "J" included special cast wheel uprights, electronic ignition and lubrication system. Unlike the production Miuras, the "J" had separate oil lubrication for the engine and gearbox.