Owning a Lamborghini Miura in South Africa is a rare privilege. But how about owning two at the same time? For many years Peter Bailey was the caring custodian of the two incredibly special cars you see here.
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
Images: Justin Pinto
It is unquestionably one of prettiest supercars (or even, cars) ever made. Apart from that, it is seen by many as the machine that laid the foundation of what would become the supercar genre. That is, if you classify a supercar as a high-performance, two-door sports car that is also mid-engined. In the Miura’s case this means a 3.9-litre, V12 engine that is fitted transversely, with the gearbox on the side of the engine… it is a bit of an engineering marvel.
Miuras are as scarce as hen’s teeth in South Africa. Around a year ago a rather special Miura left our shores which had been in the country for a number of decades. Shortly after filming this video, the orange car sadly also left South Africa, leaving the blue Miura as likely the last of its breed. That said, rumours persist of one more, somewhere...
On the day of filming the owner, Peter Bailey, allowed us to shoot his neatly restored Arancio Orange example, a car he found in pieces several years ago and then took a number of years more to perfectly restore. However, when the gearbox started to give some trouble two hours into our filming schedule, I had to ask him the difficult question: “Peter, can we please go and fetch your other Miura?”… a question I never thought I’d ask anyone!
Being a true enthusiast, Peter said "sure", and we headed back to Johannesburg, and pulled the soft car cover off his Azzurro Mexico Blue Miura. I lowered myself into the passenger seat and during the course of the next few kilometres enjoyed the sights and sounds as Peter took his time to slowly warm up all the Miura's fluids.
Then we hit the highway and centimetres behind my head the V12 engine singed away as the sounds infiltrated the cabin and the Miura’s legs were stretched. The performance must have been quite intoxicating when the Miura was launched in 1966. The story behind Ferruccio Lamborghini's decision to start manufacturing his own cars has been well documented, but the Miura is the car that truly placed the raging bull manufacturer from Sant’Agata on the map.
Lamborghini turned to Bertone, where Marcello Gandini – at the age of 26(!) – put pencil to paper and at the Geneva Motor Show in 1966 the Miura had its global unveiling. Prior to the show the car was referred to as project P400, but then at the show it was decided to name the car after Don Eduardo Miura, at the time a respected breeder of fighting bulls. The first production car was delivered to its owner in March 1967.
“It is really just a piece of art, between the shape and the engineering. About 20 years ago I found the blue one. It was at the local Lamborghini dealership when I saw it, and five months later it was still there. The dealer said we should come to an arrangement, and I bought it. About a year later I came across the orange one, it was in pieces though, but I thought it would be a good idea to buy, which I did, and 17 years later it was on the road.
“They are both identical cars, supposedly, made within a year of each other, but they are unique. The blue Miura is as it is, unrestored, the engine has been redone, and it starts and runs. It has that lovely thing that the English call 'patina'. The orange one is fully restored; the result is that they are both different.”
Although most drives with these cars have been short in nature, the dark car has been taken to Durban and back over the course of an epic three day road trip.
Overall, the design of the Miura is a near perfect blend of sportiness, elegance and style. The headlights are flush with the body and raise when called upon. These lights are also surrounded by small grilles which aid air flow to the front brakes. Soon after its introduction, these grilles started being referred to as the Miura’s "eye lashes".
Lamborghini continued the evolution of the Miura by unveiling the “S” at the 1968 Turin Motor Show, followed by production from January 1969. Power was increased to 276 kW and the car also featured wider section tyres. Peter also shared with us that the S featured thicker body panels compared to the thinner metal of the first models.
“Being in South Africa, I couldn’t have finished the orange car without the blue car. It would have been very difficult," Bailey says.
But he did, and we have both on video!
Car: 1970 Lamborghini Miura S
Engine: 3 929 cm3, V12, petrol, mid-mounted
Power: 276 kW at 7 500 rpm
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Torque: 389 N.m at 5 500 rpm
Top speed: 274 kph
0-97 kph: 6.3 seconds
Gearbox: 5-speed manual
Wheelbase: 2 489 mm
Height: 1 041 mm
Weight: 1 298kg
Suspension, front and rear: wishbones and coil springs
Production (P400, S and SV): 765