A Bull Market in Futures Lamborghini Miura 1971 show car: Sant’Agata’s first factory rebuild. This mint green Miura SV is the first restoration from PoloStorico, Lamborghini’s new heritage division. Drive-My was granted exclusive access. Words Massimo Delbò.
Saturday Evening at the Amelia Island Concours. As is traditional, Automobili Lamborghini is about to present a car in the garden just in front of the Ritz Carlton bar. Usually this is a new project, or a new version of an existing model, but not this year. Instead the showpiece is a green Miura, the very first one to be restored by PoloStorico, the Sant’Agata company’s new classic department.
A few yards away from the crowd lurk two Italians, looking nervous as they judge the reactions to their last 12 months of work. They are Enrico Maffeo, the manager of PoloStorico, and Massimo Picco, in charge of the technical part of every restoration that the new department will take on.
‘We’ve wanted a department focusing on Lamborghini’s heritage for a few years now,’ says Maffeo, ‘but it is only in the last 12 months that the board has given the green light and allocated the resources for a real start.
‘We were just getting it under way when the owner of A&A Premier Classic, part of the Collezione Euro Americana, an important Lamborghini collector and a friend of the company, asked us to help in the restoration of one of his cars, a very special Miura indeed. We had to speed up the whole process so we wouldn’t lose the opportunity, but we are so pleased with what we did that we don’t regret any of the long, late-night hours we spent doing it.’
The green Miura is none other than chassis number 4846, the SV displayed on the Bertone stand at the 1971 Geneva motor show. ‘Bertone showed it because Lamborghini had the Countach on its own stand,’ says Maffeo, ‘but the Miura was still needed to make money for new projects. The new SV was intended to revive sales of the Miura, and our documentation revealed it to be the very first SV to leave the production line, assembly number 616.’
Massimo Picco elaborates: ‘Documentation is everything. Without it we would have made disasters in the restoration of this car. It was the third SV to enter the production line, assigned to Foitek, the Swiss distributor, but the first to leave it, most likely because it was needed for the show.
‘Being the first to be assembled, it has dozens of small differences from what became the normal production SV. It uses many S parts modified to SV specifications because the proper SV ones weren’t ready. During the restoration of the front air intake, for example, we could see the modification to the lower part of the S’s bonnet to receive the bigger intake. Then there are the eyelids around the headlights, which lack the eyelashes used on the S to cover the hole – deeper than the original Miura’s – surrounding the S’s lights.’ Chassis 4846 was not in terrible condition but, being a show car and a very early one, it had a lot of peculiarities. To add to the challenge, the Miura arrived in Sant’Agata not only partly dismantled but also totally painted in red, including the rear slats, the side skirts and the wheel centres.
‘It is not difficult to restore a Miura today,’ says Maffeo, ‘with so many specialists around. But it is difficult to restore a Miura correctly, because most of the time specialists lack the correct information and documentation.
Miuras, like many other Lamborghinis, were often made for specific customers following specific requests, and as the custodian of the company archives only PoloStorico is capable of providing the right information. Which it can do for at least 90% of the cars built.
‘For example, this car’s rear lights had frames of the right profile but painted red. Under the paint we discovered the chrome on the frame, but the vertical parts of the frame were black. We found a note on the build sheet to correct the black part and make it chromed but, probably because of the hurry in making the car ready in time for the show, the detail remained as it was. ‘Then there are the side skirts. Strictly they are the wrong type, being the design from the S with the small air intake, but the building notes report that the S skirts were installed because the SV design was not available yet. Same for the ignition lock, still on the central tunnel and not on the steering wheel.’
Clockwise from above Metallic green is sensitive to light angles; transverse V12 sits above gearbox; 12 pistons and con-rods await assembly; Campagnolo wheels beautifully refurbished; there are four of these triple-choke downdraught Webers.
Picco adds more evidence of PoloStorico’s detective work. ‘A show car is harder to restore than a normal one, because it has special features. This car has much more polish and chrome than a standard SV; for example the gear lever gate is chromed and the camshaft covers of the engine are polished, as are many small detail parts. However, because the car was on show it received a lot of attention and became the subject of many pictures that are, today, an invaluable source of information.’
The chassis frames of the Miura were built at Marchesi, today a partner company for Polo Storico. ‘It has the knowledge, the experience and all the information,’ says Maffeo. ‘Marchesi knows exactly how the chassis was built, so the engineers there can check it and, if necessary, fix it.’
Picco adds a warning about over-restoration here. ‘This is one of the big risks of every project,’ he says, ‘with many restorers working hard to enhance the look of the chassis but forgetting to check the structural integrity and compliance with the original shape. We were lucky here because the chassis was straight with very few deteriorated parts, so we were able to keep all of it.
‘We applied new paint, of course, but it respects the original tone because a Lamborghini Miura chassis was never shiny. We took extra care in the details, such as the correct colours for the suspension springs and the wiring, and we installed red spark-plug leads. These were typical of the last cars, but were used here to increase the visual appeal of the car during the Geneva show.’
This Miura’s paint is the standard Verde Metallizzato listed in Lamborghini’s colour chart of the period. ‘There are seven Miuras in this incredible colour,’ says Maffeo. ‘For the repaint we used the period-correct nitrocellulose paint even though it can need as many as 24 coats, with much rubbing-down between them. On the plus side, this paint makes it easier if any touching-up is later required, because you don’t have to heat the car up in a paint oven.’
The paint looks very light on the horizontal surfaces and dark on the verticals, creating a sharp contrast under certain lights and making the Miura’s shape seem to change depending on how the light falls on on the surface. But, despite this subjective morphing, the SV’s shape is dead accurate.
‘We always 3D-scan our cars,’ says Picco, ‘so we have perfect measurements and can be sure we are respecting the original shape. Our database of knowledge and information grows with every project. With car 4846 we discovered parts that were not within tolerance, so we had to find out why. Where the lines of the rear wing, the spoiler and the boot join, the contour was too rounded and a little too low. Most likely too much material was ground away in this area during previous bodywork repairs.
‘On the front, where the flat part on the bonnet is less flat than on other Miuras, we initially thought it the consequence of a light frontal impact that we discovered while stripping the paint. Later we realised that this is the shape the bonnet takes when it’s modified for the new air intake, so we kept it.’ PoloStorico knows that knowledge, and the availability of the correct materials and components, are the keys to a good restoration. But it is new to the game, and admits that it is learning.
Below and opposite Car 4846 introduces Miura SV model at the 1971 Geneva show; prior to restoration and red all over; SV’s enlarged air intakes are obvious as old paint gives way to new.
‘We don’t hide anything,’ says Enrico Maffeo. ‘We openly declare that at the moment we are using external companies for many services. Our target is to do our own work on the interiors and all the mechanicals in the very near future, but we will not do the paintwork. Already we have involved Lamborghini’s current suppliers and some other suppliers of the best raw materials in the world, to be sure of having the perfect matching fabrics or leather or components to start from. This can be difficult because some available materials do not match our standard.
‘Put it this way. We consider ourselves conductors with a great group of musicians, in the form of manufacturers or artisans, to co-ordinate. The first project took just eight months, which set a kind of a record because the working time was well below what we’d usually expect.’
Picco shares his colleague’s pride at the project’s speediness. ‘This is not something we want to repeat,’ he points out, ‘but was simply the consequence of the request of our customer and the board decision to show the first result of our work at Amelia Island. Currently, with three other projects on the go – a 350, a Countach and an LM – it would be impossible to meet this short deadline even with the extra information we now have. For this Miura, just checking the exact tones of the exterior and interior colours took four months. Today, with all the original colours archived, it would take a few hours.’
So, which part of the project gave the most satisfaction? ‘We’ll never forget the expressions on the faces of the onlookers when we unveiled the SV at Amelia, nor the one on the owner’s face when he saw his finished car. But best has been a request to use the Miura as a template for a scale model. We just hope that, 50 years from now, a baby of today doesn’t ask us to restore his childhood toy…’
Clockwise from below PoloStorico will soon tackle all re-trimming in-house; structural interior parts were deemed fit for a new life; rewiring used correct colours and connectors; finished cabin is a study in style, dial-count and soft tan leather.
POLOSTORICO: WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT DOES
Parts, restoration, archives and, soon, a proper authenticity certificate
Enrico Maffeo is the driving force behind PoloStorico, the newly formed Lamborghini department in charge of everything linked with the Sant’Agata Bolognese company’s past. He joined Lamborghini 18 years ago, when the company contained little more than 200 people and made around 220 cars a year. That, he reckons, makes him the ideal man for his new task. ‘It is not a question of age, but of knowledge. Back then we were so few that we all knew each other, and still today if I’m not sure of a fact or I need a clarification, I know who to go to. Maybe I’ll find him in the company, or I’ll be ringing his door bell if he has retired, because he will usually be no more than 20km from my office.’
PoloStorico is divided into four main areas, summarised as archive, spare parts, certification and restoration. Alongside these specialisms is the need to manage, restore and sometimes trade the cars of the Lamborghini museum. The archive holds around 90% of the production sheets of Lamborghini’s cars, beginning with the 350GT and ending with the most recent car to come under Polo Storico’s responsibility, the Diablo. The records include the build specification of every Lamborghini model built in the past, plus around 20,000 blueprints that have already been digitalised.
The archive is collecting everything from sales brochures to handbooks and maintenance manuals, and has just found a note, handwritten in 1965, from Ing. Dallara to Ferruccio Lamborghini. Quoting a recently published article, Dallara was underlining the benefit to Lamborghini of going racing. Clearly, it fell on deaf ears.
The spare parts project started with an inventory of what was already in the warehouses. PoloStorico claims to stock 74% of parts listed for past Lamborghinis, at a value of about €15m, but it still needs to discover if these include the parts actually needed. When just two original examples of a part remain, they are preserved for future reference.
New parts will be introduced every year, 58 of them in 2015. The certification section can supply the original data of every car (typically for registration in a new country after purchase), confirmation of compliance to the original specification, and the technical sheets, depending on what the owners require. In few months’ time PoloStorico will add a full certification service, similar to that offered by Ferrari Classiche. For this, owners will have to present their Lamborghinis for inspection at PoloStorico itself or at one of the company’s 120 dealers.
TECHNICAL DATA 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV
Engine 3929cc mid-mounted transverse V12, DOHC per bank, four Weber 40 IDL triple-choke carburettors
Power 385bhp @ 7700rpm
Torque 286lb ft @ 5500rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Steering Rack and pinion
Suspension Front and rear: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
Brakes Discs all round
Performance Top speed 180mph. 0-60mph 6sec
‘Documentation is everything. Without it we would have made disasters in the restoration of this car’