Launched in 1966, Miura was probably the best Lamborghini of all time (though some choose the Countach). First of all, the beautiful Bertone (M. Gandini actually)-designed body was one of the best-looking in automotive history, with sexy curves and perfect proportion. Countach might be more appealing, but Miura looked far more comfortable and was more practical.
Then we are going to examine its chassis structure. Although central monocoque plus tubular sub-frames structure was not the most advanced then, it had an extraordinary layout: mid-engine, which was first ever used in a pure road car (Porsche 550 Spyder and Ford GT40 were built for racing purpose first). The chassis was designed by Italian chassis expert G. Dallara under the inspiration of GT40. To obtain better weight distribution, Dallara requested a very compact V12 plus transmission to be installed transversely behind the cabin and completely in front of the rear axle. So the engine men created a 3929 c.c. 4 cams V12, upgraded from the 400GT, whose sump incorporated with the 5-speed transmission. Maximum output was 350 hp and 278 lbft.
This original Miura called P400 (means approximately 4 litres). Having a superb look, technology and performance, it immediately became the favourite supercar of the riches. Like the earliest Porsche 911, P400 still need some more tuning to become a perfect machine – serious drivers criticised the lack of chassis rigidity and high-speed instability caused by aerodynamic lift. These problems did not stop it from selling well, since few millionaire customers were serious drivers. But if it had to become an all-time classic, it should receive more rework …
In 1969, Lamborghini finally did it. The revised version, P400S, received structural reinforcement, fatter tyres, ventilated brakes and 20 more horsepower by means of faster cams and larger carburettors. Autocar magazine recorded 172 mph for the P400S – the fastest ever recorded for a road car !
But it was still nothing when compared with P400SV, which was launched 2 years later. SV was the peak in Miura’s life. It was benefited from the racing technology gained in developing the Miura Jota race car, especially was aerodynamics. P400S did not cure the high speed lift problem, leaving SV to solve it by lowering the nose slightly while raising the rear end. More chassis reinforcement made it a really rigid car. Again, the V12 was further tuned up to 385 hp and 294 lbft. Finally, for the benefit of racing, the lubrication system of engine and transmission was separated. All these modifications resulted in great handling and performance that people will never forget.
Miura had a rather short life compare with Countach. Production stopped in 1972, not because of slow-selling but because it should give road to the new Countach. In fact, during its life, Miura was so popular that demand was always greater than the supply. A total of 764 cars were built.