Lamborghini Polo Storico has located and certified the Miura P400, chassis #3586.
Keen eyes may recognize it as the original from the opening scenes of The Italian Job.
Back in 1966, Lamborghini was a rather unimpressive sports car manufacturer from northern Italy. They were about as remarkable as De Tomaso or Bizzarrini. Interesting in some respects and horrid in others. That all changed at the 1966 Geneva Motor Show when Lambo rolled out the Miura. At a stroke, the upstart Italian car maker vaulted to the head of the pack. When other manufactures were only making front-engine cars, Lamborghini came out with the Miura, a mid-engine 12-cylinder beast that not only went like the business, it looked like the business.
Everything about it was frightening, impressive or impressively-frightening. The powertrain layout was a marvel of packaging: the four-liter V12 engine was mounted transversely, which made for a remarkably short car that was a nightmare to work on. That same four-liter V12 was notoriously high strung, meaning you had to work on it a lot. That’s why it was tallied in the “frightening” column. The body, designed by stylist Marcello Gandini, was breathtaking; but the chassis engineering resulted in the driver’s feet being mashed a week and a day over to the right.
Related: The Circuit Wolf manga comic book series was inspired by this Miura SVR.
Lights, Camera, Action
It gained wide notoriety when it was driven in the opening of The Italian Job movie. Driven by an unnamed, smartly-attired gentleman; graying at the temples, smoldering cigarette nonchalantly dangling from his lips; ridiculously-styled wrap around sunglasses clamped to his face, just belting up the St. Bernard pass in Italy; its siren song V12 engine note echoing off the granite mountainsides until ka-SMASH, it runs headlong into a friggin’ bulldozer and bursts into flames.
The flaming wreckage is then pushed off the mountain road, down a terrifyingly-steep embankment and into the river, silently observed by a cadre of black suited, stone-faced gentlemen. And that’s just how the movie starts.
Chassis #3586? Could This Be The One?
That very Miura is the car you see pictured here. No, no, not the flaming wreckage one; that was one of two Miuras used in the film. The one here was used in the driving sequences and a previously wrecked one was used for the whole crunching/exploding/ravine tumbling bit. This is Lamborghini Miura P400, chassis #3586, and 50 years later, Lambo found it and gave it a factory restoration.
Painted in Arancio Miura (that would be orange) with white and black leather interior, chassis #3586 has been the most pursued Miura in recent decades. After filming, the car all but disappeared, or at least it went unnoticed. Perhaps this was “the same Miura used in The Italian Job,” was overheard at club meets and such, but #3586 became “just” another cool older Italian sports car. As interest picked up, enthusiasts and collectors got into the hunt. The car was finally found in The Kaiser Collection of Vaduz, Liechtenstein. The Kaiser Collection contacted Lamborghini Polo Storico, the in-house research and rebuild outfit, to verify it was actually the car from the movie.
Look For The White Headrests
The car was then sent to Sant’ Agata Bolognese where Polo Storico’s work began by examining documents in Lamborghini’s archives. They even went so far as to conduct interviews with enthusiasts and former employees like Enzo Moruzzi, who delivered the famous Miura to the set and drove it in all the shots as a stunt double.
“There was a Miura P400 almost ready on the production line, in the right color, left-hand drive and with white leather interior. It was aesthetically identical to the damaged one and we decided to use it for the film. The only thing worrying us was the elegant white leather seats, given that car had to get back to Sant’Agata in perfect condition,” Moruzzi recalled.
When filming concluded, Paramount Pictures gave the car back to Lambo, who simply prepared it for delivery to its first owner, an Italian from Rome. 50 years later, the white leather seats remain an enduring part of the story behind chassis #3586.
“So, I asked for them to be taken out, replacing them with a set of black leather seats that we used for testing,” Moruzzi continued. “The giveaway was the headrests, which on the Miura are attached to the dividing glass between the driver compartment and the engine compartment, which couldn’t be replaced in time. In the film, you can see the original white headrests.”
Lamborghini Polo Storico did a nut and bolt, ground-up restoration on chassis #3586, just in time for the 50th anniversary of The Italian Job. What a lovely coincidence, no? Lamborghini was good enough to give us a raft of very pretty pictures of this very pretty, and very memorable car. Here, have a look.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.