Built as a one-off concept car, this topless Miura disappeared form the automotive radar for decades.
The Lamborghini Miura is often credited as being the world’s first supercar thanks to its attention grabbing looks, high performance, and mid-engine layout. Its legacy is well documented and its place in automotive history cemented, but few know of the Miura that never was.
The Lamborghini story is well documented, with the now fabled dinner table spat between Enzo Ferrari and Ferruccio Lamborghini causing the latter to challenge the established red cars with his own. The Lamborghini 350GT proved that Ferrari wasn’t invincible, and that Lamborghini had the potential to be more than just a manufacturer of working machinery. However, the Raging Bull’s coming off age was the certainly in 1966 with the Miura being revealed at the Geneva Motor Show.
Styled by Bertone, this innovative design actually began as an after-hours project by engineers who wanted to truly dethrone Ferrari. Initially Ferruccio wasn’t keen, instead favouring GT cars, but once a rolling chassis was shown at the 1965 Turin Salon to excited crowds, he soon changed his mind.
As the 1960s progressed, the Miura was THE car to own with movie stars desperate to add one to their driveway, and us less flush folk pasting our walls with posters of it. There was a growing hunger for a convertible Miura amongst clientele, those wishing to hear its glorious V12 engine alfresco. Bertone again heeded the call to explore what a roofless model would look like in the form of a concept car.
Officially dubbed the Lamborghini Miura P400 Roadster, the supercar made its debut at the 1968 Brussels motor show. This wasn’t just a Miura with its roof removed, oh no, the Roadster featured considerable redesigns. The beautiful silhouette hosted a heavily raked windscreen, lower roofline, large side-mounted intakes, and its 394hp V12 engine was now on show. A truly beautiful machine, however, despite it hugely positive public response, it remained a one-off — the reason has been lost to the sands of time.
After declining requests to build the car, the sole Roaster found an unlikely home with the Lead Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO). The metal development company was looking for a car to showcase some of the lightweight materials it produced, however, Lamborghini was reluctant to sell the company a production car. Why? Again this is unknown — perhaps because it would potentially outshine the standard Miura? Either way, the prototype Roadster was something Lamborghini was willing to part with for such a project.
ILZRO dismantled the Roadster, replacing many of its components with zinc alternatives to highlight their weight saving properties. The transformation was marked with a respray, changing the original shade of the concept car from blue to green. It toured several motor shows with ILZRO and served as a key promotional tool for the company. After a few years on the road, the rare car was auctioned off to a private individual and totally fell from the radar for over a decade.
The Lamborghini Miura P400 Roadster’s absence left some wondering if the car was just a dream as it faded into automotive myth. It resurfaced in 1980 when the car was donated to the Brookline Museum of Transportation. What happened in the intervening years largely remains a mystery, but the car was at least back in the public eye for people to ogle once again.
After a lengthy stint on display at the Museum, and changing hands a fair few times thereafter, the Roadster eventually found its way to Adam Gordon. He decided to restore the car to its original 1968 specification — no easy task as the car was far from motor show worthy and missing some of its original parts.
After undoing ILZRO’s handiwork and preparing the car at a cost of over $320,000, Mr Gordon took it to the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2008. The resurrection of this almost forgotten classic and the execution of its restoration earned the 2nd place rosette.
Later in 2008 the bespoke supercar, estimated to be worth in excess of $9.2 million at the time, was sold for an undisclosed sum. It has remained in private hands to this day with brief outings to prestigious events from time to time.
The exact whereabouts and current ownership of the Miura Roadster remains something of a mystery.
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