Road car: Lamborghini Miura
'Gimmick' goes into production
Just 12 months ago when I was at the Lamborghini factory at St Agata, near Bologna, there was only one Miura in existence and a lot of people still considered it to be a Motor Show gimmick.
The Miura is the very low two-seater coupé with the V12-cylinder engine mounted transversely behind the cockpit, the five-speed gearbox being integral with the crankcase so that all the gears, from the camshaft drivetrain to the final drivetrain, are all running in the same plane, with no need for right-angle gear drives or crown-wheels and pinions. At the time, work was proceeding on the finalising of the detail design, especially as regards the engine/gearbox unit, with a view to production.
When I was there recently there was a production line of six or seven cars on the go, some 20 had already been delivered, and a new factory was being completed so that a reorganisation of the present one could take place and make room for an extension to the output of the Miura, the production for the next two years having already been earmarked. The amount of detail design work is formidable. Lamborghini makes most of the mechanical components, having despaired of getting satisfactory service from many specialised parts suppliers. The machine shop is an engineer's delight and the work on the combined cylinder block and gearbox casting is fascinating.
One of the problems with a mid-engined coupé is luggage space and on the Miura it is solved by building a compartment into the hinged tail that covers the engine unit, so that it is completely insulated from the mechanical components. Another interesting point is the row of tumbler switches, for lights, etc, which hang down from a panel on the roof. With the modem reclining driving position it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach forward to switches on the instrument panel so that the positioning in the centre of the roof panel makes sense.
A year ago the Miura seemed to be a dream car, but it is now well in production. In Italy it sells for about £800 more than the orthodox front-engined 2+2 coupe, so it is not surprising that many people are interested in this new form of travel. --- DSJ