It’s some years now since some of the world’s most revered automotive brands realised that one way they could engender even more brand loyalty by creating their own museum to showcase some of the most significant and most loved models from their back catalogue, as well as being able to give the fans a chance to see some of the one-off prototypes and concept cars that would otherwise remain gathering dust in the proverbial corner. Lamborghini is among those who decided to create a museum at their Sant’Agta da Bolognese factory, and it attracts plenty of visitors during a year. Unlike the higher profile Ferrari museums which can be found less than 30 minutes away, the Lamborghini museum does not change every year, or at least that has been the case in the past,. Certainly when I visited in 2014, most of what I saw, and the way it was set out was very similar to how it had been on my first ever visit some four years earlier in the summer of 2010. However, in 2015 i read that there had been a complete revamp, and that meant that it was definitely time for another look. It took a little while to make it possible, as the museum is not open on a Sunday, and my annual trip to the Auto e Moto d’Epoca show in Padua, which has me more or less on the doorstep does also occupy the same day as when the museum would be open. But when I decided to make another trip a few weeks later, so I could attend the Bologna Auto Show, suddenly, I had a Saturday when I could make the short journey along some country lanes (in rather dense fog!) from Bologna to Sant’Agata. I knew from previous visits that you need the courage of your convictions, as you really do think you are just in a very rural part of the Emillia Romagna, and if you approach from the east, as I did this time, Sant’Agata looks like many other sleepy Italian villages, but as you head out west, suddenly you will come across the famous factory on one side of the road. Visitor parking is just down the road, and as you walk on site you will see the entrance to the museum straight ahead of you. From the outside, little appears to have changed, but once inside, it was clear it had. And whilst some of the cars were the same, the way they were displayed was completely different. There were few other visitors the day I went, so I was able to linger for a long time and enjoy the cars from close up (there are no barriers around them, though an eagle-eyed security guard will spot if you try to get too intimate!). There is no longer space for an example of every different model that Lamborghini has produced, so this is not a complete history of the marque, but it does contain representative examples of many of the car products and concepts since the first road car was made in 1963, and there are plenty of side displays to tell you a little more about this marque’s history.
The first car that you come to having bought your ticket is the first road car that Ferruccio Lamborghini produced, a 350GT. It is well documented that the whole reason for Ferruccio Lamborghini’ diversification into producing cars was after a stormy meeting at Maranello when he confronted Enzo Ferrari with a series of issues with his Ferrari. Enzo was far from sympathetic, so Lamborghini resolved to produce his own car, and that it would be “better” in every way. The 350 GT was the result. Production started in May 1964, after its well-received debut] at the March 1964 Geneva Show. After the testing of his prototype Lamborghini engine in May 1963, Giotto Bizzarrini left the company, and the following month Ferruccio Lamborghini assigned Gian Paolo Dallara—with the assistance of Paolo Stanzani and Bob Wallace—the task of developing a production version of the grand tourer. Dallara and Stanzani quickly realised that the Lamborghini 350GTV was not properly designed for mass production, so they proceeded along parallel lines: it was necessary to detune the original Bizzarrini engine; and to redesign the original Bizzarrini chassis for street use. The original Bizzarrini-designed 3.5 litre V12 was essentially a race motor, potentially developing 400 hp at 11,000rpm. In order to fit his grand touring car with a smoother, more pleasant, longer-lasting engine, that was “good for 40,000 hard miles between services” Ferruccio had Dallara and Wallace detune a version of this prototype “GTV” motor for street use. This first “detuned” L350 engine was tested on October 3, 1963. The result was a very capable 270 bhp power plant that could reach 254 km/h (158 mph). While this 350 GT design work continued, the prototype was rushed to completion for the upcoming October 26 press meeting and the subsequent inauguration of the Turin Auto Show on the 30th. The Lamborghini 350GTV was shown at the Turin Auto Show with the original Bizzarrini “racing” V-12 engine—with its downdraft webers, rear distributors, etc.—displayed alongside as it was not “adapted to the chassis.” The car was a “non-runner” with the suspension arms simply tack-welded in place and the engine not installed. Lukewarm reaction to the car caused Ferruccio to postpone plans for immediate production and move on to the new 350 GT design. In March 1964, only 5 months after the debut of the GTV in Turin, the “redesigned GTV”—now called the 350 GT—was debuted at the Geneva Auto Show It was greeted with sufficient enthusiasm that Ferruccio decided to proceed with production at Sant’Agata in May 1964. The production 350 GT had an all-aluminium alloy V12 engine mated to a five-speed ZF manual transmission. It had an aluminium body (some had steel bodies), a Salisbury differential, four-wheel independent suspension, and vacuum servo-assisted Girling disc brakes all round. The 350 GT could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds, and from 0 to 100 mph in 16.3 seconds, and go on to reach a top speed of 158 mph. The 350 GT shared a number of features with the 350 GTV prototype, including a four-wheel independent suspension, quad-cam V12, and an aluminium body. A number of revisions and refinements were made due to the suggestions of the Neri and Bonacini racing development shop, and test driver Bob Wallace. Fixed headlights replaced the prototype’s rotationally hidden variety, and twin-barrel side-draught Weber 40 DCOE 2 carburettors reduced the height of the engine, thereby negating the clearance problems of the GTV prototype, and giving the car the exceptionally low hood line Ferruccio desired. As was the case with the motor, Bizzarrini’s GTV “racing” chassis design was the basis of Dallara’s 350 GT “street” chassis. Using far heavier materials, Dallara created an extremely strong chassis from square-section tubing which provided easy entry and exit through the doors, aided in the quietness of the car, and provided a solid platform on which to mount the body, much like the Aston Martin DB4. The suspension was fully independent, with unequal-length wishbones and concentric coil-spring-damper units. The rear suspension wishbones were offset towards the spring mountings to resist driving and braking torque, which provided superior handling. Quality control of the early 3.5 litre engines was very high. Each one underwent tests for 24 hours on a Schenk Walge dynamometer, being run for the first 12 hours under electric power, and then with gasoline at increasing speeds. A detailed analysis was made of its behaviour before installation in the car for at least 500 km of mixed-test running by Wallace. The manufacture of the bodies was entrusted to Touring of Milan, who used their patented Superleggera method of construction to fix aluminium alloy panels directly to a tubular structure. The first 350 GT frame was fabricated by Neri and Bonacini, who continued to act as Lamborghini’s chassis supplier until production of the 350 GT was underway, when the job was turned over to Marchesi. Chassis and bodies were mated at Touring, which then delivered the complete assemblies—with even the bumpers in place—to the Lamborghini factory. The first 350 GT chassis and body, delivered to the Lamborghini factory on March 9, 1964, was named No. 101 (Touring No. 17001). That same month No. 101 debuted at the Geneva show. The first customer delivery of a 350 GT was No. 104 (Touring No. 17004), delivered on July 31, 1964. Lamborghini produced 120 of their 350 GTs before replacing it with the larger-engined Lamborghini 400 GT in 1966. Many 350 GTs were subsequently fit with the larger, 4.0 litre, engine.
Upstairs was an example of the 400 GT 2+2. The first 400 GTs were essentially just the older 350GT featuring an enlarged, 3929 cc V12 engine, with a power output of 320 bhp and recognised by the change to twin circular headlights from rectangular units. Twenty-three of these cars were built, with three featuring aluminium bodywork, and then at the 1966 Geneva Show, Lamborghini presented a revised version, called the 400 GT 2+2, which had a different roofline, and minor sheetmetal changes compared to the earlier cars, still with the Carrozzeria Touring bodywork. The larger body shape enabled the +2 seating to be installed in the rear, where the 350GT only had room for luggage or +1 seating, without changing the wheelbase. The 400 GT 2+2 also had a Lamborghini designed gearbox, with Porsche style synchromesh on all gears, which greatly improved the drivetrain. 224 examples of the 400 GT 2+2 were built from 1966 to 1968, when it was replaced with the Islero.
Chronologically, the next model that Lamborghini produced was the legendary Miura, a car some will say was the first true supercar. For sure, this car, produced between 1966 and 1973, is widely considered to have instigated the trend of high performance, two-seater, mid-engined sports cars. When released, it was the fastest production road car available. The Miura was originally conceived by Lamborghini’s engineering team, Gian Paolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzani, and Bob Wallace who in 1965 put their own time into developing a prototype car known as the P400. The engineers envisioned a road car with racing pedigree – one which could win on the track and be driven on the road by enthusiasts. The three men worked on its design at night, hoping to convince Lamborghini such a vehicle would neither be too expensive nor distract from the company’s focus. When finally brought aboard, Lamborghini gave his engineers a free hand in the belief the P400 was a potentially valuable marketing tool, if nothing more. The car featured a transversely-mounted mid-engine layout, a departure from previous Lamborghini cars. The V12 was also unusual in that it was effectively merged with the transmission and differential, reflecting a lack of space in the tightly-wrapped design. The rolling chassis was displayed at the Turin Salon in 1965. Impressed showgoers placed orders for the car despite the lack of a body to go over the chassis. Bertone was placed in charge of styling the prototype, which was finished just days before its debut at the 1966 Geneva motor show. Curiously, none of the engineers had found time to check if the engine would fit inside its compartment. Committed to showing the car, they decided to fill the engine bay with ballast and keep the car locked throughout the show, as they had three years earlier for the début of the 350GTV. Sales head Sgarzi was forced to turn away members of the motoring press who wanted to see the P400’s power plant. Despite this setback, the car was the highlight of the show, immediately boosting stylist Marcello Gandini’s reputation. The favourable reaction at Geneva meant the P400 was to go into production by the following year. The name “Miura”, a famous type of fighting bull, was chosen, and featured in the company’s newly created badge. The car gained the worldwide attention of automotive enthusiasts when it was chosen for the opening sequence of the original 1969 version of The Italian Job. In press interviews of the time company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini was reticent about his precise birth date, but stressed that he was born under the star sign Taurus the bull. Early Miuras, known as P400s (for Posteriore 4 litri), were powered by a version of the 3.9 litre Lamborghini V12 engine used in the 400GT at the time, only mounted transversely and producing 350 hp. Exactly 275 P400 were produced between 1966 and 1969 – a success for Lamborghini despite its then-steep price. Taking a cue from the Mini, Lamborghini formed the engine and gearbox in one casting. Its shared lubrication continued until the last 96 SVs, when the case was split to allow the correct oils to be used for each element. An unconfirmed claim holds the first 125 Miuras were built of 0.9 mm steel and are therefore lighter than later cars. All cars had steel frames and doors, with aluminium front and rear skinned body sections. When leaving the factory they were originally fitted with Pirelli Cinturato 205VR15 tyres (CN72). The P400S Miura, also known as the Miura S, made its introduction at the Turin Motorshow in November 1968, where the original chassis had been introduced three years earlier. It was slightly revised from the P400, with the addition of power windows, bright chrome trim around external windows and headlights, new overhead inline console with new rocker switches, engine intake manifolds made 2 mm larger, different camshaft profiles, and notched trunk end panels (allowing for slightly more luggage space). Engine changes were reportedly good for an additional 20 hp. Other revisions were limited to creature comforts, such as a locking glovebox lid, a reversed position of the cigarette lighter and windshield wiper switch, and single release handles for front and rear body sections. Other interior improvements included the addition of power windows and optional air conditioning, available for US$800. About 338 P400S Miura were produced between December 1968 and March 1971. One S #4407 was owned by Frank Sinatra. Miles Davis also owned one, which he crashed in October 1972 under the influence of cocaine, breaking both ankles. The last and most famous Miura, the P400SV or Miura SV featured different cam timing and altered carburettors. These gave the engine an additional 15 hp to a total of 380 hp. The last 96 SV engines had a split sump. The gearbox now had its lubrication system separate from the engine, which allowed the use of the appropriate types of oil for the gearbox and the engine. This also alleviated concerns that metal shavings from the gearbox could travel into the engine with disastrous and expensive results and made the application of an optional LSD far easier. The SV can be distinguished from its predecessors from its lack of “eyelashes” around the headlamps, wider rear wings to accommodate the new 9-inch-wide rear wheels and Pirelli Cinturato tyres, and different taillights. 150 SVs were produced. The car seen here is an SV, as can be identified by the absence of the “eyelashes” around the headlights.
The Espada, a 4-seat grand touring coupé, arrived in 1968. The car was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. Gandini drew inspiration and cues from two of his Bertone show cars from 1967, the Lamborghini Marzal and the Jaguar Piraña. The name “Espada” means “sword” in Spanish, referring to the sword that the Torero uses to kill the bull in the Corrida. During its ten years in production the car underwent some changes, and three different series were produced. These were the S1 (1968–1970), the S2 (1970–1972) and the S3 (1972–1978). Each model featured interior redesigns, while only minor details were changed on the exterior. The Espada was launched at the 1968 Geneva Motor Show. The original design of the dashboard was inspired by the Marzal concept car, and featured octagonal housings for the main instruments, topped by an additional binnacle for the secondary gauges. Wheels were Campagnolo alloys on knock-off hubs, of the same design seen on the Miura. The tail lights were the same units mounted on the first series Fiat 124 Sport Coupé. 186 were made up until January 1970. At the 1970 Brussels Motor Show Lamborghini unveiled the Espada S2. Outside the only change was the deletion of the grille covering the vertical glass tail panel. Inside changes were more radical: all-new dashboard, centre console and steering wheel were installed. The instrument binnacle was of a more conventional rectangular shape, with round gauges. A wood-trimmed fascia extended along the entire width of the dashboard. Power output increased to 350 PS (345 bhp) due to a higher 10.7:1 compression ratio; the brakes were upgraded to vented Girling discs. Power steering was offered as an option. 575 Series II Espada were made, making it the most popular and desirable variant. The Espada S3 was launched in 1972. Its 3.9 litre V12 engine produced 325 PS (321 bhp) With the second redesign the dashboard changed to a aluminium-trimmed cockpit that kept all instruments and most controls (including the radio) within easy reach of the driver. Newly designed wheels on five-stud hubs replaces the earlier knock-off wider wheels fiitted with Pirelli Cinturato 215/70WR15 CN12 tyres, making the Espada S3 instantly recognisable; other exterior changes included the square instead of hexagonal mesh grille and tail lights from the Alfa Romeo 2000 replacing the previous Fiat-sourced ones. In 1974 a Borg Warner automatic transmission became available. From 1975 large impact bumpers had to be installed to meet United States safety requirements; some people consider cars produced with them as a separate fourth series, but Lamborghini did not officially change the model designation. In total, 1217 Espadas were made, making it the most successful Lamborghini model until the expansion of Countach production in the mid-1980s.
Also dating from 1968 was the Islero. It was the replacement for the 400GT it made its debut at the 1968 Geneva Auto Show. The name Islero comes from a Miura bull that killed matador Manuel Rodriguez “Manolete” on August 28, 1947. Since Carrozzeria Touring, the company that designed Lamborghini’s chassis, was bankrupt, Carrozzeria Marazzi was the next logical choice as it was funded by Mario Marazzi, an old employee of Touring. The new design was essentially a rebody of the 400GT, but the track was altered to allow for wider tires and while the Islero’s body suffered from a lack of proper fit between the panels, its good outward visibility, roomier interior, and much improved soundproofing made it an improvement over previous models. It had a 325 bnp 3929 cc V12 engine, a five-speed transmission, fully independent suspension, and disc brakes. Its top speed was rated at 154 mph (248 km/h) and acceleration from zero to 60 mph took 6.4 seconds. Only 125 Isleros were built before the release of an updated model, dubbed the Islero S, which was released in 1969. The engine in this model was tuned to 350 bhp, but the torque remained the same. There were quite a few styling changes, including brightwork blind slots on the front wings, an enlarged bonnet scoop (which supplied air to the interior of the car, not the engine), slightly flared wings, tinted windows, round side-marker lights (instead of teardrops on the original), and a fixed section in the door windows. Various other changes included larger brake discs, revised rear suspension and revamped dashboard and interior. The top speed of the S improved to 161 mph (259 km/h) and acceleration from zero to 60 mph 6.2 seconds. Only 100 examples of the Islero S were built, bringing the production total of the Islero nameplate to 225 cars. Ferruccio Lamborghini himself drove an Islero during that era – as did his brother Edmondo. The car is also famous for its appearance in the Roger Moore thriller The Man Who Haunted Himself and in Italian Vedo nudo (first movie novel, Islero 1968, as the car of Sylva Koscina). The car was replaced in 1970 by the Jarama. Sadly, there was not one of those on display.
Which small boy (and perhaps car loving girl) did not lust after a Countach back in the 1970s and 1980s. A dramatic looking car, this was the stuff of dreams that you would only ever see at the London or NEC Motor Shows. Countach first made an appearance, as a concept in 1971, but it was 1973 before the production car made its debut, and despite unfortunate timing with fuel shortages and a recession, and a number of financial problems for its maker, the car sold well throughout its production life. The Countach entered production as the LP400 with a 3929 cc engine delivering 370 hp. The first production Countach was delivered to an Australian in 1974. Externally, little had altered from the final form of the prototype except at the rear, where conventional lights replaced the futuristic light clusters of the prototype. The styling had become rather more aggressive than Gandini’s original conception, with the required large air scoops and vents to keep the car from overheating, but the overall shape was still very sleek. The original LP400 rode on the quite narrow tyres of the time, but their narrowness and the slick styling meant that this version had the lowest drag coefficient of any Countach model. The emblems at the rear simply read “Lamborghini” and “Countach”, with no engine displacement or valve arrangement markings as is found on later cars. By the end of 1977, the company had produced 158 Countach LP400s. In 1978, a new LP400 S model was introduced. Though the engine was slightly downgraded from the LP400 model (350 bhp), the most radical changes were in the exterior, where the tyres were replaced with 345/35R15 Pirelli P7 tyres; the widest tyres available on a production car at the time, and fibreglass wheel arch extensions were added, giving the car the fundamental look it kept until the end of its production run. An optional V-shaped spoiler was available over the rear deck, which, while improving high-speed stability, reduced the top speed by at least 16 km/h (10 mph). Most owners ordered the wing. The LP400 S handling was improved by the wider tires, which made the car more stable in cornering. Aesthetically, some prefer the slick lines of the original, while others prefer the more aggressive lines of the later models, beginning with the LP400 S. The standard emblems (“Lamborghini” and “Countach”) were kept at the rear, but an angular “S” emblem was added after the “Countach” on the right side. 1982 saw another improvement, this time giving a bigger, more powerful 4754 cc engine. The bodywork was unaltered, however the interior was given a refresh. This version of the car is sometimes called the 5000 S, which may cause confusion with the later 5000 QV. 321 of these cars were built. Two prototypes of the 1984 Countach Turbo S were built by Lamborghini, of which one is known to exist. The Turbo S weighed 1,515 kg (3,340 lb), while its 4.8 litre twin-turbo V12 had a claimed maximum power output of 758 PS and a torque output of 876 N·m (646 lb·ft), giving the car an acceleration of 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 335 km/h (208 mph). A turbo adjuster, located beneath the steering wheel, could be used to adjust the boost pressure from 0.7 bar to 1.5 bar at which the engine performed its maximum power output. The Turbo S has 15″ wheels with 255/45 tyres on the front and 345/35 on the rear. In 1985 the engine design evolved again, as it was bored and stroked to 5167 cc and given four valves per cylinder—quattrovalvole in Italian, hence the model’s name, Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole or 5000 QV in short. The carburettors were moved from the sides to the top of the engine for better breathing—unfortunately this created a hump on the engine deck, reducing the already poor rear visibility to almost nothing. Some body panels were also replaced by Kevlar. In later versions of the engine, the carburettors were replaced with fuel injection. Although this change was the most notable on the exterior, the most prominent change under the engine cover was the introduction of fuel injection, with the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, providing 414 bhp, rather than the six Weber carburettors providing 455 bhp. As for other markets, 1987 and 1988 model Quattrovalvoles received straked sideskirts. 610 cars were built. Seen here is one of the early Countach LP400 models.
Lamborghini had been toying for some time with the idea of a smaller and cheaper car, powered by a V8 engine, to rival the smaller Ferraris, and the result, the Urraco, was first seen at the 1970 Turin Show. It was styled by Marcello Gandini, and engineered by Paolo Stanzani. It was launched with a 2.5 litre V8 engine, engineered to be cheaper to build, with belt-driven camshafts, situated within a steel monocoque structure suspended on McPherson struts. It reached the market before the rival Maserati Merak and Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino, which should have given it a big advantage. But it did not. For a start, it was deemed not powerful enough, so even before the difficulties of the late 1973 Fuel Crisis made things difficult, the car did not sell well at all. The solution was to add more power, and this came when the engine was enlarged to 3 litres, with four chain-driven cams, which took power from 220 bhp to 265 bhp. A roll-hoop across the back of the cabin improved rigidity, and more powerful brakes were fitted. It sold better, though never in the sort of volume that had been anticipated, and the addition of an Italian market tax special P200 did not help much, either. Just 66 of these were built, whereas 520 of the original P250 models found buyers, and 190 of the more powerful P300s added to the total before production ceased in 1979. The story did not quite end there, as in 1976 a heavily revised version, with removable targa roof panels, appeared, called the Silhouette, and both were replaced by the Jalpa in the 1980s, though neither of these sold as well as the Urraco.
At a time when the company was financed by the Swiss-based Mimran brothers, Lamborghini began development of what was codenamed Project 132 in June 1985 as a replacement for the Countach model. The brief stated that its top speed had to be at least 315 km/h (196 mph). The design of the car was contracted to Marcello Gandini, who had designed its two predecessors. When Chrysler bought the company in 1987, providing money to complete its development, its management was uncomfortable with Gandini’s designs and commissioned its design team in Detroit to execute a third extensive redesign, smoothing out the trademark’s sharp edges and corners of Gandini’s original design, and leaving him famously unimpressed. In fact, Gandini was so disappointed with the “softened” shape that he would later realise his original design in the Cizeta-Moroder V16T. The car became known as the Diablo, carrying on Lamborghini’s tradition of naming its cars after breeds of fighting bulls. The Diablo was named after a ferocious bull raised by the Duke of Veragua in the 19th century, famous for fighting an epic battle with ‘El Chicorro’ in Madrid on July 11, 1869 In the words of Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, the Diablo was designed “solely to be the biggest head-turner in the world.” The Diablo was presented to the public for sale on January 21, 1990. Its power came from a 5.7 litre 48-valve version of the existing Lamborghini V12 featuring dual overhead cams and computer-controlled multi-point fuel injection, producing a maximum output of 499 PS and 580 N·m (428 lb/ft) of torque. The vehicle could reach 100 km/h in about 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 202 mph. The Diablo was rear-wheel drive and the engine was mid-mounted to aid its weight balance. The Diablo came better equipped than the Countach; standard features included fully adjustable seats and steering wheel, electric windows, an Alpine stereo system, and power steering from 1993 onwards. Anti-lock brakes were not initially available, although they would eventually be used. A few options were available, including a custom-moulded driver’s seat, remote CD changer and subwoofer, rear spoiler, factory fitted luggage set and an exclusive Breguet clock for the dash. The Diablo VT was introduced in 1993. Although the VT differed from the standard Diablo in a number of ways, by far the most notable change was the addition of all wheel drive, which made use of a viscous centre differential (a modified version of LM002’s 4WD system). This provided the new nomenclature for the car (VT stands for viscous traction). The new drivetrain could direct up to 25% of the torque to the front wheels to aid traction during rear wheel slip, thus significantly improving the handling characteristics of the car. Other improvements debuting on the VT included front air intakes below the driving lamps to improve brake cooling, larger intakes in the rear arches, a more ergonomic interior with a revised dashboard, electronically adjustable dampers, four-piston brake calipers, power steering, and minor engine refinements. Many of these improvements, save the four-wheel drive system, soon transferred to the base Diablo, making the cars visually nearly identical. Further updates would follow before the car gave way to the Murcielago in 2001. The Diablo sold in greater numbers than its predecessor with 2898 examples being made during its 11 year production life. The example seen here was one of the late cars, with the earlier covered headlights now replaced – following a regulation change – by the glass-covered ones.
In its turn, the Diablo gave way to the Murcielago in 2001. Taking its name from the Spanish for “bat”, this was Lamborghini’s first new design in eleven years and more importantly, the brand’s first new model under the ownership of German parent company Audi, which was manifest in a much higher level of quality and reliability. The Murcielago was styled by Peruvian-born Belgian Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini’s head of design from 1998 to 2005. Initially it was only available as a Coupe. The Murciélago was an all-wheel drive, mid-engined supersports car. With an angular design and an exceptionally low slung body, the highest point of the roof is just under 4 feet above the ground. One of the vehicle’s most distinguishing features are its scissor doors. which lends to the extreme image. First-generation Murciélagos, produced between 2001 and 2006, were powered by a Lamborghini V12 that traces its roots back to the company’s beginnings in the 1960s. The rear differential is integrated with the engine itself, with a viscous coupling centre differential providing drive to the front wheels. Power is delivered through a 6-speed manual transmission. The Murciélago suspension uses an independent double-wishbone design, and bodywork features carbon fiber, steel and aluminium parts. The rear spoiler and the active air intakes integrated into the car’s shoulders are electromechanically controlled, deploying automatically only at high speeds in an effort to maximise both aerodynamic and cooling efficiency. The first generation cars were produced between 2001 and 2006, and known simply as Murciélago, sometimes Murciélago VT. Their V12 engines produced just under 580 PS (572 hp), and powered the car to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds. Subsequent versions incorporated an alphanumeric designation to the name Murciélago, which indicated their engine configuration and output. However, the original cars are never referred to as “LP 580s”. The Murciélago Roadster was introduced in 2004. Primarily designed to be an open top car, it employed a manually attached soft roof as cover from adverse weather, but a warning on the windshield header advised the driver not to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h) with the top in place. The designer used the B-2 stealth bomber, the Wally 118 WallyPower yacht, and architect Santiago Calatrava’s Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencia, Spain as his inspiration for the roadster’s revised rear pillars and engine cover. In March 2006, Lamborghini unveiled a new version of its halo car at the Geneva Motor Show: the Murciélago LP 640. The new title incorporated the car’s name, along with an alphanumeric designation which indicated the engine’s orientation (Longitudinale Posteriore), along with the newly updated power output. With displacement now increased to 6.5 litres, the new car made 640 PS ( 631 hp) at 8000 rpm. The Murciélago’s exterior received a minor facelift. Front and rear details were revised, and side air intakes were now asymmetrical with the left side feeding an oil cooler. A new single outlet exhaust system incorporated into the rear diffuser, modified suspension tuning, revised programming and upgraded clutch for the 6-speed “e-Gear” automated sequential transmission with launch control rounded out the performance modifications. Interior seating was also re-shaped to provide greater headroom, and a new stereo system formed part of the updated dashboard. Optional equipment included Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brakes, chrome paddle shifters and a glass engine cover. At the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, Lamborghini announced that the roadster version of the Murciélago would also be updated to LP 640 status. At the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghini unveiled the ultimate version of the Murciélago, the LP 670–4 SuperVeloce. The SV moniker had previously appeared on the Diablo SV, and Miura. SV variants are more extreme and track-oriented, and are released at the end of each model’s production run. The SuperVeloce’s V12 produced 670 PS (661 hp) at 8000 rpm and 660 N·m (490 lbf·ft) of torque at 6500 rpm, thanks to revised valve timing and upgraded intake system. The car’s weight was also reduced by 100 kg (220 lb) through extensive use of carbon fibre inside and out. A new lighter exhaust system was also used. As a result of the extensive weight loss, the SV had a power-to-weight ratio of 429 bhp/ton. Also standard were the LP 640’s optional 15-inch carbon-ceramic disc brakes with 6 piston calipers. The original production plan for the SV was limited to 350 cars, , but in fact only 186 LP 670-4s were produced before the factory had to make room for the new Aventador production line. Numbered cars 1–350 do not represent the order in which cars were manufactured. Only 5-6 were made with manual transmission. Production of the Murciélago ended on November 5, 2010, with a total run of 4,099 cars. Its successor, the Aventador, was released at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Seen here was an LP650-4 Roadster.
First of a quartet of concept cars on the ground floor was this one, the Cala. Also known as the Italdesign Calà, this was designed for Lamborghini by Italdesign Giugiaro, and was first shown at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show. It was a completely functional prototype but never made it into production. Its name was derived from the Piedmentese dialect of Northern Italy and meant “look, over there!” The Calà was designed to fill Lamborghini’s need for a replacement for the Jalpa, which had ceased production in 1988 at the behest of then owners of the company, Chrysler. In 1994 Chrysler sold Lamborghini to Megatech, the Calà design took shape, but when Megatech sold Lamborghini to the Volkswagen Group in 1998, the concept was shelved. The Jalpa replacement would not be found in Lamborghini’s lineup until 2003, with the release of the Lamborghini Gallardo. The Calà was powered by a mid-mounted V10 engine, which produced 400 hp. It was also mated to a 6-speed transmission that drove the rear wheels, with an aluminium chassis and a hand-built carbon fibre body. It borrowed elements from some of Lamborghini’s production vehicles, such as the headlights of the Miura and the widescreen of the Countach. Top speed was estimated at 181 mph (291 km/h). The car is featured in the 1997 computer and video game Need for Speed II and Need For Speed II SE. The car is unique.
This is the the Concept S, which was first presented as a non-running design study at Geneva in 2005. It was conceived of by then head of design Luc Donckerwolke at Centro Stile Lamborghini and introduced as an extreme interpretation of an open-top spyder version of the Gallardo. Donckerwolke envisioned the concept as a modern rendition of the classic single-seater racing car, albeit with twin cockpits side by side. The astonishing amount of public interest at the Geneva Motor Show prompted the decision to build a functional version in order to further gauge potential customer demand. It was a stunning design to say the least, and this is the initial prototype model. The following year, the fully operable Concept S, which was based on the Gallardo platform, was first shown to the public at the Concorso Italiano. This stunning spyder was a proverbial showstopper, as it remained true to its concept yet seemed even more extreme. The so-called “saute-vent” windscreens were re-designed and lowered for homologation reasons, though the result is even more radical than the original design. These screens serve to visually divide the cabin into two distinct compartments, giving the car an aggressive and futuristic look. They also create a “spine” that runs between the passenger and the driver, essentially dividing them from one another. It also acts as an additional air inlet for the powerful 520-horsepower V-10 engine at its heart, which is positioned behind the occupants. The aerodynamics of the Concept S have been further optimized by the use of front and rear spoilers and a large rear diffuser. Lamborghini initially slated the car for production but decided to produce a limited run of 100 examples for favoured customers. However, the exceedingly high cost and time-consuming production of the Concept S ultimately ended with the first example also being the last, leaving the Concept S as a true production-ready, one-off Lamborghini.
Perhaps the most spectacular Lamborghini ever made is this, the Egoista, a concept car produced for the company’s 50th anniversary. The fully functioning model is based on the Gallardo. It features a 5.2 litre V10 engine producing 600 bhp The Egoista has a unique one-seat cockpit, which is similar to that of a modern fighter jet, and has a canopy door that is completely removable. The steering wheel must be removed to enter and exit the vehicle like F1. The unique exterior of the Lamborghini Egoista is meant to resemble a bull ready to charge if looked at from the side. The lighting resembles that of a modern airplane, with sidemarkers and indicators on the sides and top of the car as well as front and rear. The bodywork consists of active aerodynamic panels that raise and lower for optimum downforce and stability. The body and wheels are made of antiradar material to even more identify with fighter jets. In Italian, Egoista literally means “selfish”. According to the model’s designer Walter de Silva, the Egoista “represents hedonism taken to the extreme.”
Not quite a concept, as a small number of these cars were made, was the Sesto Elemento, which debuted at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. The Sesto Elemento’s name (“Sixth Element” in English) is a reference to the atomic number of carbon, in recognition of the car’s extensive use of carbon fibre. The Sesto Elemento is equipped with a 6-speed semi-automatic transmission with paddle shift and all wheel drive system, mated to a 5.2 litre V10 engine borrowed from the Gallardo, generating 570 bhp and 540 N·m (400 lbf·ft) of torque. The chassis, body, drive shaft and suspension components are made of carbon fibre, reducing the overall weight to a mere 999 kilograms (2,202 lb), a weight comparable to subcompact cars. Air is released through 10 distinctive hexagonal holes in the engine cover, while two intakes funnel cool air into the mid-mounted engine compartment. Lamborghini claims a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) acceleration time of just 2.5 seconds, and top speed of over 210 mph. The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento has a power to weight ratio of 1.75 kg (3.86 lb) per horsepower, which is currently the best power to weight ratio of a production Lamborghini. The Sesto Elemento’s interior is generally bare without vehicle comforts such as air-conditioning and car stereo. The seats are made of foam and stuck onto the chassis of the vehicle, reducing weight and production costs. Lamborghini announced plans to make 20 Sesto Elementos for track use only in mid-2011. All 20 were quickly sold.
Although we think of Lamborghini very much as a maker of supercars, there has been one model in the catalogue which was very far from being a low-slung sports car, and if the runours are to be believed there will soon be another one. Indeed, a concept SUV, the Urus, was first shown at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2012, and was later seen at Pebble beach that summer. Reaction was sufficiently favourable to suggest that a production car would sell.
Parked up alongside the Urus was the first SUV, and indeed the brand’s first four wheel drive model, the LM002. Although it was not introduced until 1986, its origins go back nearly a decade before that. Lamborghini built its first military vehicle, a prototype vehicle codenamed the “Cheetah”, in 1977. Lamborghini had designed the vehicle with hopes of selling it to companies in the oil exploration and production industry. The original Cheetah prototype had a rear-mounted Chrysler V8 engine. The only finished prototype was never tested by the US military, only demonstrated to them by its designer, Rodney Pharis. It was later sold to Teledyne Continental Motors by MTI and is apparently still in the US. This led Lamborghini to develop the LM001, which was very similar to the Cheetah, but had an AMC V8 engine. It was finally determined that the engine being mounted in the rear caused too many unfavourable handling characteristics in an offroad vehicle, and the LMA002 was built with an entirely new chassis, moving the engine (now the V12 out of the Lamborghini Countach) to the front. After much testing and altering of the prototype, it was finally given a serial number and became the first LM002. The production model was unveiled at the Brussels Auto Show in 1986. It was dubbed the “Rambo-Lambo”. Civilian models were outfitted with a full luxury package, including full leather trim, tinted power windows, air conditioning, and a premium stereo mounted in a roof console. In order to meet the vehicle’s tire needs, Lamborghini commissioned Pirelli to create the Pirelli Scorpion tires with custom, run-flat tread designs. These were made specifically for the LM and were offered in two different tread designs, one for mixed use and the other for sand use only. These tyres could be run virtually flat without risk and could handle the desert heat, the loading, and the speeds of the LM. The LM002 was fitted with a 290-litre fuel tank. For those requiring even more power, the Lamborghini L804 type 7.2 litre marine V12, more commonly found in Class 1 offshore powerboats, could be specified. In 1988, Lamborghini sent an LM002 to a team of special engineers with the intention of making it capable of participating in the Paris Dakar Rally. They stripped it of anything that added unnecessary weight and gave it an upgraded suspension, engine modifications which brought it to 600 hp, full roll cage, plexiglas windows, and GPS equipment. Funding ran out before it could officially be entered in competition, although it did participate in the Rallye des Pharaons in Egypt and another in Greece, both times driven by Sandro Munari.
On the Upper Floor, there was a reminder that, whilst the list of successes is nothing like as great as that of dread rival Ferrari, Lamborghini does have a legacy of cars conceived for motor-sport. Two of those on show were a reminder of the brand’s time in Formula 1. One of these was this Modena 291 dating from 1991. It was designed by Mauro Forghieri for use by the Modena team, driven by Nicola Larini and Eric van der Poele, during the 1991 Formula One season. Forghieri managed to get a car ready by the end of 1990, after which it was tested at Imola by Mauro Baldi. It appeared in a distinctive dark blue livery, featuring triangular side pods and slanted radiators. The car proved reasonable and surprisingly recorded its best result at the first race it entered. After Larini qualified it in 17th place, the car held together and finished in 7th place, albeit 5 laps behind winner Ayrton Senna in a McLaren MP4/6 at the United States Grand Prix. The team came close to a points finish, notably at Imola where van de Poele was 5th in the final corner before fuel pressure problems dropped him back to 9th. Apart from those two highlights, the team did not come close to points and usually failed to get through pre-qualifying.
The second Formula 1 car was a Lotus-Lamborghini 102. The Lotus 102 had a longer racing career, though only a year of that was with Lamborghini, but also not much success. Using the 101 as its basis Frank Dernie incorporated the 640 bhp Lamborghini V12 engine that had been used by the Larrousse Lola team during 1989. Its use made the 102 the only Lotus to race with a V12 engine. The engine had several drawbacks, principally its size, weight and fuel economy. However, it was believed that the increases in power would offset these drawbacks. The engine’s size meant it had to be located lower in the chassis, which also had to be designed to its widest permitted dimensions in order to incorporate larger fuel tanks. Furthermore, due to the engine’s mass every component on the car had to be scrutinised to investigate whether any further weight reductions could be made elsewhere. The departure of Nelson Piquet to Benetton and Satoru Nakajima to Tyrrell at the end of 1989 brought in the experienced Derek Warwick, and promoted test driver Martin Donnelly to fill the other vacant drivers seat. The inclusion of these drivers, who were taller than Piquet and Nakajima, incurred another design compromise as the car had to be taller than was desired. Team Lotus’s manager Rupert Mainwarring confidently predicted that the team would score 40 championship points. By the first round of the championship it was apparent that this confidence was sadly misplaced. In 1990, Team Lotus were to struggle throughout the season to score three points, its lowest score since 1958. Warwick scored all three points with a 6th place in Canada and a 5th-place finish in Hungary, while Donnelly failed to score at all. More often than not, it was the unreliability of the Lamborghini 3512 engine which cost Lotus in 1990. Ultimately this performance was to witness the departure of the lucrative Camel sponsorship the team had enjoyed since 1987 and almost cost the team its existence. Ironically, the planned use of the Lamborghini V12 was also the major reason why triple World Champion Nelson Piquet chose not to re-sign with the team after 1989 with the Brazilian correctly predicting that the under-developed engine would hamper both his and the team’s chances. While the Lamborghini, one of only two V12 engines in Formula One at the time (the other being Ferrari), had shown promise with the Larrousse team in its debut season 1989, it still lagged behind the V12 Ferrari, the V10 engines from Honda and Renault, and even the Cosworth built and developed Ford V8 engine in both power and more importantly reliability. The 102 ultimately saw the end of Martin Donnelly’s brief F1 career in a crash which almost cost him his life. During qualifying for the 1990 Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, Donnelly had a horrific crash during Friday practice when he left the circuit in the fast right hand turn behind the pits and the car hit the barriers at speed. The 102 broke in half and the seat of the car broke free and was flung clear of the wreck with Martin still strapped in. Donnelly, who ended up laying in the middle of the track, received serious injuries that took months of recovery. Two races previous in Italy, Warwick also had a monumental crash on the first lap of the race at Monza when he ran wide on the exit to the Parabolica and clouted the barriers at speed. Despite the car overturning and sliding down the middle of the circuit upside down, Warwick was thankfully unharmed. He climbed out of his car, which thankfully was avoided by following cars, ran back to the pits (where he told the team and reporters that the crash was his own fault for running too wide at the Parabolica) and started the race in the spare car. After Donnelly’s career ending crash at Jerez, he was replaced for the final two races in Japan and Australia by British driver Johnny Herbert. In December 1990, Peter Collins and Peter Wright headed a consortium which bought the team. Due to the eleventh hour nature of the takeover the team were unable to start the season with sufficient sponsorship. In addition, the planned introduction of Dernie’s type 103 was shelved, the team instead opting to refresh the 102 to B standards, which was Team Lotus’s entry to the 1991 season. Despite having over 800 new components incorporated the new car was not sufficiently different from the 102 to justify a new type designation. This continued the precedent set by Lotus 30 years previously, whereby the Type 25 was almost completely redesigned, but was still designated the 25B. The heavy and ultimately unreliable (in Lotus usage at least; the Larrouse-Lola outfit found better results having used the engine since 1989) Lamborghini engine was replaced by the Judd EV V8 and the driver line-up was also changed. Mika Häkkinen and Julian Bailey filled the seats vacated by a frustrated Derek Warwick and injured Martin Donnelly. It was apparent that the car was nowhere near the pace setters of the McLaren MP4/6 and the Williams FW14 at the opening round in Phoenix. Häkkinen would go on to describe that during this race his steering wheel actually came off. Bailey’s failure to qualify for the Monaco Grand Prix prompted his departure and replacement with test driver Johnny Herbert for the remainder of the season. Due to Herbert’s International Formula 3000 commitments the German driver Michael Bartels raced in his absence but failed to qualify. The 102B enabled the team to equal their 1990 points total of three points. With increased sponsorship and the delay of the 107 it was to continue racing for the first four races of the 1992 season in D specification. The C specification incorporated an Isuzu P799WE (Jpanese edition) V12 engine that had been developed throughout the season but never raced. The final incarnation of the 102, was the makeshift 102D that represented Team Lotus’s for the start of the 1992 season. Outwardly similar to the 102B, the car had a Cosworth HB V8 in place of the Judd EV V8. In an attempt to gain exposure a 102D driven by Johnny Herbert broke the Brands Hatch Indy circuit record for the BBC Record Breakers programme.
The Diablo GTR was first seen at the 1999 Bologna Show. It was based on the road-going GT model, and 30 of them were made. They raced until 2001.
The first of the racing Gallardo models was a Super Trofeo GT Cup car, unveiled in 2008, and which became quite a successful race car. It was first used in 2009 for the Italian GT Championship, and in 2010 the car came second, then in 2011 and 2012 it won.
The other Gallardo here was also a Super Trofeo 570-4. These were based on the earlier Gallardo Super Trofeo, and whilst the drivetrain was unchanged, they had better aerodynamics. They were used from 2013 to 2015.
Mounted on the wall is the body, and on the floor, the chassis of a current Aventador Roadster LP770-4. The Aventador came along The Lamborghini Aventador was launched on 28 February 2011 at the Geneva Motor Show, five months after its initial unveiling in Sant’Agata Bolognese. The vehicle, internally codenamed LB834, was designed to replace the then-decade-old Murciélago as the new flagship model. In keeping with Lamborghini tradition, the Aventador is named after a fighting bull. Aventador was a bull that fought particularly valiantly in the bull ring of Zaragoza, Spain in 1993, earning the Trofeo de la Peña La Madroñera for its courage in the arena. The Aventador LP 700–4 uses Lamborghini’s new 700 PS (510 kW; 690 bhp) 6.5 litre 60° V12 engine weighing 235 kg. Known internally as the L539, the new engine is Lamborghini’s fourth in-house engine and second V12 design. It is the first all-new V12 since the 3.5 litre powerplant found in the 350GT. Its transmission, a single-clutch seven-speed semi-automatic, is built by Graziano Trasmissioni. Despite being single-clutch, gear-shifts are accomplished in 50 milliseconds. The new, electronically controlled, all-wheel drive system is developed and supplied by the Swedish company Haldex Traction, offering traction and handling capabilities based on their 4th generation technology. The 2013 Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster was announced for production on 27 December 2012, equipped with the same V12 engine as the coupé version, Lamborghini claims again that it can reach 60 mph in less than 3 seconds and a top speed of more than 350 km/h (217 mph). The removable roof consists of two carbon fibre panels, weighing 6 kg (13 lb) each, which required the reinforcement of the rear pillar to compensate for the loss of structural integrity as well as to accommodate the rollover protection and ventilation systems for the engine. The panels are easily removable and are stored in the front luggage compartment. The Aventador Roadster has a unique engine cover design and an attachable wind deflector to improve cabin airflow at high speed as well as a gloss black finish in the A-pillars, windshield header, roof panels, and rear window area. With a total weight of 1,625 kg (3,583 lb) it’s only 50 kg (110 lb) heavier than the coupé (the weight of the roof, plus additional stiffening in the sills and A-pillars). Production of the Aventador was planned to be limited to 4,000 vehicles (4,099 Murciélagos were built); however, earlier in 2016, it achieved the 5,000 unit milestone. The moulds used to make the carbon-fibre monocoque are expected to last 500 moulds each and only 8 have been made.
Alongside it was the latest model design, the Huracan. Replacing Lamborghini’s sales leader and most produced car, the Gallardo, the Huracán made its auto show debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto Show, and was released in the second quarter of 2014. The name of the Huracan LP 610-4 comes from the fact that this car has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive. Huracán (huracán being the Spanish word for hurricane) is inspired by a Spanish fighting bull. Continuing the tradition of using names from historical Spanish fighting bulls, Huracán was a bull known for its courage that fought in 1879. Also Huracan is the Mayan god of wind, storm and fire. Changes from the Gallardo included full LED illumination, a 12.3 inch full-colour TFT instrument panel, Fine Nappa leather and Alcantara interior upholstery, redesigned dashboard and central tunnel, Iniezione Diretta Stratificata (IDS, essentially an adapted version of parent Audi’s Fuel Stratified Injection) direct and indirect gasoline injections, engine Stop & Start technology, EU6 emissions regulation compliance, Lamborghini Doppia Frizione (LDF) 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with 3 modes (STRADA, SPORT and CORSA), 20 inch wheels, carbon-ceramic brake system, optional Lamborghini Dynamic Steering variable steering system and MagneRide electromagnetic damper control. In early 2015, the Huracán appeared on Top Gear. It got a neutral review from Richard Hammond who said that it was too tame to be a “proper Lamborghini.” However, it got around the Top Gear test track in 1:15.8 which is faster than any other Lamborghini to go around the track to date, including the Aventador.
This is one of the 20 Reventón models that were built. Launched at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, this was the most expensive Lamborghini road car ever until the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento was launched, costing two million dollars (€1.5 million, or £840,000). Its top speed was recorded in Dubai, UAE at 221 miles per hour. The official press release stated that only 20 vehicles would be sold to the public, with one additional car (marked as 00/20) produced for the Lamborghini museum. Although early rumours indicated the total number would actually be 100, each Reventón is stamped with its number in the sequence of 20 between the driver’s and passenger’s seats, and only 20 were built. Of the original 20 coupes, 10 were delivered to the United States, seven to Europe, one to Canada, and two to Asia. One of them is in the possession of controversial Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov. All the cars were finished in a sort of dull grey colour. Despite the exterior being new, and constructed from carbon fibre, almost all the mechanical elements (including the engine) were sourced directly from the Murciélago LP640. According to the official press release, the Reventón’s exterior styling was inspired by “the fastest airplanes”.
The most expensive Lamborghini yet-produced is this, the Veneno, a limited production supercar based on the Lamborghini Aventador and built to celebrate Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary, and indeed, at launch it was the most expensive new car “in the market”. The prototype, Car Zero, is finished in grey and includes an Italian flag vinyl on both sides of the car. The engine is a development of the Aventador’s 6.5 litre V12 and produces 750 PS. The vehicle number 0 was unveiled at the March 2013 Geneva Motor Show, followed by 2013 Quail Motorsports Gathering, Vallelunga circuit near Rome during the World Finals of Lamborghini Super Trofeo 2013 series. There’s another number 0 Veneno prototype test car. The Lamborghini Veneno has an electronically limited top speed of 354 km/h (220 mph), can do 0–60 mph in 2.8 seconds, can brake 60–0 mph in 30 m (98.0 ft), and corners at 1.41 G. The Veneno has a weight to power ratio of 1.93 kg (4.25 lb) per horsepower. Lamborghini built just five examples of the Veneno: One for factory testing, one was kept for itself and three were for customers. The car seen here is Car Zero. The three production cars cost €3,120,000 each, and all three were sold.
The Lamborghini Miura concept was a retro styled Lamborghini presented at the Paley Center for Media, formerly The Museum of Television & Radio, on 5 January 2006. The unveiling coincided with the Los Angeles Auto Show though it was not present at the show itself. The car commemorated the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the original Miura concept at the Geneva Motor Show in 1966. The car made its official début at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit two weeks later. It was the first design to be penned by Lamborghinis design chief, Walter de’Silva. The show car greatly resembles the original Miura while its underpinnings are that of the more modern Murciélago. Lamborghini president and CEO Stefan Winkelmann stated that the concept would not mark the Miura’s return to production, saying that “The Miura was a celebration of our history, but Lamborghini is about the future. Retro design is not what we are here for. So we won’t do the Miura.” And they have not.
This is a chassis from a Miura.
I’ve left what was perhaps the most special car of the lot to last. This is the one-off Miura Roadster, which was first presented at the 1968 Brussels Auto Show. Designed and built by Bertone as a concept prototype, this open version was not just a regular Lamborghini with the roof removed, unlike the 350 GTS presented by Touring a few years earlier, the Miura Roadster was almost completely redesigned, with excellent taste as always. The complete rear section of the car was modified, the rear louvres covering the engine were removed, the tail lights changed and the exhaust pipes now went through the lower grill. Various small changes were made to the rear section of the original Miura, like lowering the roof line by 3 cm and changing the angle ‘rake’ of the windscreen. All this was necessary to eliminate undesired turbulence at 300 Km/h even without the roof, which was actually never even built in the end, the Miura Roadster didn’t have a roof panel at all. Also note the air intakes behind the side windows were larger compared to the factory built Miura to allow more fresh air to be pulled into the engine bay, while the ‘built in’ rear spoiler was also larger than normal on the Roadster … in fact Bertone even went as far as strengthening the chassis of their Miura to counteract the fact there was no roof left to keep the car from flexing, as a matter of fact there were no side windows on the Miura Roadster either because the rake of the windshield was modified the original side windows could not be used. The interior also had to be modified, mainly because the switches from the overhead console found inside the regular Miura had to be installed elsewhere inside the car (they would end up on the central console), and the Bertone steering wheel showed a great similarity with the one found inside the Marzal and the Espada prototype … both built by Bertone too. The car was finished in a bright-metallic azure blue shade, while the interior was upholstered in a magnolia (almost white) dye leather (just like on the first 350 GTV in fact). The impact this show prototype had in Brussels and later on in Geneva was massive, but this was to remain strictly a one-off, many owners requested a Miura Roadster from the factory, but Automobili Lamborghini SpA never officially delivered a Miura Roadster or even made a replica, while as mentioned earlier Bertone had never built a top or side windows for this prototype. The Miura Roadster became also known as the Miura Spider or Miura Spyder, but her official denomination was the Miura Roadster, the original car was sold to the ILZRO in 1969, the International Lead and Zinc Research Corporation, a company delivering various metals to the car industry like aluminium, zinc and different alloys. The ILZRO decided to buy a Miura some time earlier to reconstruct using their own metals and alloys to showcase their technology on various auto shows worldwide, but Lamborghini declined their request for a production Miura … however with the Miura Roadster they had an opportunity of a lifetime … this wasn’t a production car, so together with Bertone and Lamborghini the ILZRO was able to do just about anything they wanted. Chassis number 3498 was completely disassembled the moment it arrived in New York, all possible parts were changed into zinc-plated, chrome-plated, polished or re-manufactured using some metal (like lead!) made or distributed by the ILZRO, some of these items included the carburettor bodies, the carburettors stacks, engine covers, transmission covers, oil pump, filter housings, exhaust system, radiator, interior switches, the steering whee, the wheels themselves and both front and rear bumpers. These modifications were all directed by John Foster, who was actually a designer for Ford. But the result was rather special, the Miura Roadster was converted into the Zn75, an ILZRO show car … a mere Miura replica almost, she looked like a Miura, but she was totally different … even in her exterior shade. Bertone usually used bright colours and contrasting black detail work like as seen on the original Miura Roadster prototype, but the Zn75 featured chrome details and was finished in a metallic green sprayed over a black metallic base giving a strange dark green pearl like colour (iridescent gold-green), with a contrasting brown leather upholstery it looked totally different from most Lamborghini Miura. The name also changed, now into the ‘Zn75’, a name taken from the periodic table of metals used for this modification. The Zn75 first appeared in May 1969 after which she was flown all over the world to various Auto Show and shown to automotive companies worldwide, always attracting a lot of attention, when her job was over, the Miura Zn75 was auctioned off to S.F. Radtke, the Executive Vice President of the Ilzro at that time. In late 1980 the Miura Zn75 was completely refurbished by Synthetex Inc. and valued at $186,000 when Mr Radtke donated the car to the Brookline Museum of Transportation in Massachusets, U.S.A. in February 1981. The Miura was then shown in this museum for a long time were it was for sale at one time for only $ 50,000, later it was restored for the museum by J. Geils from KTR Engineering who was actually on the board at the museum. After the restoration the car was sold at an unknown auction for a rumoured $200,000. Later this rare Miura was auctioned again and bought by David Joliffe of the UK based Portman group, who intended to start a Lamborghini museum featuring this very unique Miura, however the Miura Zn75 was subsequently sold to a Japanese collector, who sold it again to an owner in France before she went to the United States. The original Miura Zn75 changed hands several times over the last few years before it ended up in the United States, owned by a New York based real estate developer, Adam Gordon who decided to have the car restored to the 1968 Brussels Salon original by the well known Miura restoration specialist Gary Bobileff starting in 2006. The total restoration of this one of a kind Lamborghini would take about two years before the Miura Roadster would once again be shown in her original 1968 livery at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where she took second place and was driven onto the stage by none other than Valentino Balboni … in 40 years the Lamborghini Miura Roadster had covered only 7,444 km in total. In late 2008 the unique Miura Roadster was offered for sale by the Kidston Auction house, no price was mentioned, but with this being the most important Miura in existence it might even be the most important Lamborghini ever next to the 350GTV prototype … being both a Lamborghini factory and a Bertone concept show car, and to really make it even more interesting all the ILZRO Zn75 parts had been meticulously retained … you could even build a second Miura Zn75 next to this original Miura Roadster if you wanted. In 2013 CNN had this very special Lamborghini valued by Hagerty Insurance … they came up with a value between $8,000,000 and $10,000,000 making her the most valuable Lamborghini ever, Hagerty Insurance valued the 350GTV at ‘only’ $3,500,000 to $5,000,000. As usual, the existence of this one of a kind prototype led several Miura owners to request a Roadster from the factory, but Lamborghini had intentions of actually producing an open-top Miura, be it because it would be too expensive to make it road worthy or the fact the removal of the roof caused the body to flex, so the factory refused every request. However some owners took their original Miura to a workshop and had it modified into a Roadster replica by just removing the roof section above the seats. As far as is known, none of these Roadster replicas had the modified rake on the windscreen, nor the special, larger air intakes on the side or new engine cover. One of the more famous replica is a white Miura transformed by Herbert Hahne, the German Lamborghini importer, this one also featured wider wheel rims and additional bodywork changes making it look like a Jota Roadster. But there remains only the one Miura Roadster and this car here is it.
As you might expect, I enjoyed my visit to this museum. There’s more than enough to see to keep you engaged for a couple of hours, which leaves plenty of time for the rest of the day to visit one of the other museums in the area – either the Ferruccio Lamborghini museum just north of Bologna, or one of the Ferrari ones in Modena and Maranello.
You can find the most uptodate details about the museum on Lamborghini’s website: https://www.lamborghini.com/en-en/experience/museum