What I’m about to tell you is a good example of why you should never give up on a project. Back in the early ’80s a friend of mine had a sports car he wanted to get rid of. It was a #1967-Lamborghini-Miura
. It had been pretty well thrashed and the engine needed a bit of work. Fortunately it had never been crashed, just used hard and put away wet. It was an extremely early car with wind-up windows and a wooden steering wheel.
the car also had a fascinating provenance. It had been bought new by the famous singer Dean Martin, the story goes that Martin bought it for his teenage son to drive to school. To the boy’s credit he never hit anything, but apparently he went over some speed bumps way too enthusiastically, cracked the sump, the oil drained out and you can imagine the rest.
My friend, a teacher at the time, picked up the car for next to nothing, hoping to repair it and put it back on the road. Reality set in when he realised it would cost more to fix than it was worth. In the early ’80s there was no internet and parts for a 15-year-old handmade Italian sports car were not easy to find.
Crazy as it sounds today, there was talk of swapping the V12 engine for a Chevy small-block. Don’t laugh. It was actually done in at least one case. Years later I even bought the blown #V12
engine from the Miura that the V8 was put into.
So the Miura sat in my friend’s garage, depression set in and he gave me the car. It was the first Miura I had seen in person. I’d seen them in Road & Track and read of #LJK-Setrights
epic journeys across Europe in Car, but they just didn’t exist here. At least, not where I lived.
When we got it to my house, I did something I don’t think anyone would contemplate doing to a Miura today: I started restoring it myself. Remember, this was before I had my workshop and we were doing this in my domestic garage. We got it running and did all the sanding and prep work before we gave it to a friend to paint. We chose Fly Yellow because of the way it looked on a Ferrari Daytona I had seen in a magazine.
When the Miura was finished, I took it on its maiden voyage on #Mulholland-Drive
above Los Angeles. I was looking in the rear-view mirror at the window above the engine compartment, disappointed that it was beginning to rain, then I looked through the windscreen and thought: it’s not raining at the front of the car, so why is it raining at the back? I realised the fuel line had popped off and was spraying the rear window with gasoline. I quickly pulled over, shut off the engine and raised the engine cover. And as I stood there at the ready with my ridiculous 12-year-old fire extinguisher, no bigger than a Coke can, I could hear gasoline dripping over the headers, making a hissing sound each time a drop landed. Luckily no fire started, so I fixed the fuel line and was on my way.
As the years passed there were other problems, things such as slave cylinders and the electric motors that raise the headlights, then, in 1988,1 had the chance to buy a #Lamborghini-Miura
S for $80,000, a far sturdier, better-built car than the P400, so my P400 got parked and somewhat neglected, then my good friend Andrew Romanowski, from the #Lamborghini
Club, stopped by. It’s a support group, much like Alcoholics Anonymous: the club sits with you until the urge to sell your Lamborghini passes.
Noticing that the #Lamborghini-Miura-P400SV
had not moved since the last time he was there, he said, ‘What’s wrong with it?’ Slave cylinder, I replied. He asked me, ‘Is that a big deal?’ No, I said, looking at the ground like a five-year-old who had failed to clean up his room. As soon as Andrew left we dragged the #Lamborghini-Miura-P400
over to the shop, replaced the slave cylinder, put a new set of Michelins on it, changed all the fluids, checked the magnesium wheels to make sure they were still structurally sound, then we waxed and polished the whole car. It was like that scene in Rocky where he takes off the girl’s glasses and suddenly she’s beautiful.
These early #Lamborghini-Miura
Miuras are different from the later cars, they’re not as structurally sound as the newer ones, but they’re also much lighter. And there’s a rawness to them that I find appealing.
they’re much better as a classic car than they ever were as a new car. By that I mean they’re more fun to drive swiftly than they are to drive fast. You never power shift a Miura; double de-clutching and rev-matching is the way to go. It’s a car that captivates all your senses. Luckily Andrew helped me regain mine.
'IT'S NOT RAINING IN FRONT, SO WHY IS IT RAINING AT THE BAGK? THE FUEL LINE WAS SPRAYING THE REAR WINDOW'