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Here's a Big Fat Happy Birthday to the Lamborghini Miura

In the world of music, 1966 is the year John Lennon declared that The Beatles “are more popular than Jesus.” In the world of politics, 1966 is the year Ronald Reagan moves up from movie actor to Governor of California. In the wonderful world of automobiles, the Lamborghini Miura debuts at the 1966 edition of the Geneva Motor Show.
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This year marks the 50th birthday of the model that set the stage for Lamborghini and the supercar as we know it today. You see, before 1966, all seriously fast cars had their engines in the front. The Miura has its 4.0-liter V12 located in the middle. The exotic powerplant is mounted sideways instead of lengthways, an idea inspired from the Mini.

Speaking of the Mini, the team behind the Miura took cue from the Brit to form the engine and transmission in one casing. But here’s the thing: the 1966 Lamborghini Miura is the first production car with its engine located bang in the middle. Ferrari introduced its first mid-engine model, the Dino 206 GT, two years later. The first V12-powered Ferrari with a mid-mounted engine, the Berlinetta Boxer, arrived in 1973.

Other than paving the way for the supercar, the Miura should’ve been much crazier than it is. According to legend, seven people in their 20s worked on the Miura in their free time. Because they were young and they wanted to prove something, the original design of the Miura had a three-seat layout, much like a McLaren F1 has. Another detail that didn't make the cut from concept to production is a glass engine cover. It’s a shame these ideas didn’t turn to fruition. Then again, the Lamborghini Miura is jaw-droppingly pretty as is.

The man we have to thank for this timeless design is Marcello Gandini. He was 22 years old when he penned the Miura. One of the downsides of the Miura is the handling. Because the engine is in the middle, the engineers thought that it’d be a great idea to mount the fuel tank over the front wheels. But as the tank ran low on fuel, the front end went light, resulting in butt-clenching handling characteristics at high speeds.

Be that as it may, the Lamborghini Miura was radical. So radical, it changed the automotive world forever.

Editor’s note: I can’t end this story without telling you my favorite story about the Miura.

Miles Davis, one of the most influential men in jazz music, had one. In 1972, he tried to make a turn at 60 mph (96 km/h) across three lanes. He failed to make that turn, though. As fate would have it, the raging bull from Sant'Agata Bolognese crashed, with Miles Davis braking both of his ankles. Even though he was bleeding, the first question Miles asked the man who came to his rescue was: “Is my car f%cked up?”

While still in the hospital, Miles Davis ordered another Lamborghini Miura. How rock 'n' roll is that?

 
 
 
 
 

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