Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Lamborghini Sports Cars


Lamborghini Miura
Lamborghini invented the modern supercar with the Miura. It debuted twice, first in 1965 as a bare chassis that sent rich enthusiasts for their wallets, then in 1966 with a body by Bertone stylist Marcello Gandini that electrified the motoring world.
Lamborghini invented the modern supercar with the Miura. It debuted twice, first in 1965 as a bare chassis that sent rich enthusiasts for their wallets, then in 1966 with a body by Bertone stylist Marcello Gandini that electrified the motoring world.

Great sports cars are enveloped by legend, and so it is with the Lamborghini Miura, the world’s first mid-engine supercar, a sensuous wonder whose daring design embarrassed even Ferrari.

Ferruccio Lamborghini’s plunge into the auto business is itself the material of myth. Born to farmers, he was a self-made industrialist (tractors, heating systems), and a lover of fast cars. It’s said that when Enzo Ferrari refused to personally attend to his complaint about a sick Ferrari, the ego-charged Ferruccio vowed to create his own exotic. That first Lamborghini, built from 1964 to ’68, was a front-engine V-12 coupe, a comfortable swift gran turismo that suited Ferruccio’s middle-age style.

When his talented engineers, led by 24-year-old Giampaolo Dallara, got Lamborghini to OK something racier, the result stole the show at the 1965 Turin exhibition. It was just a bare chassis, but was so spectacular in its racing-derived layout and so breathtaking in its use of a transverse-mounted V-12 engine, that tradition says a beaming Ferruccio collected deposits from buyers who didn’t know the machine had no body and no name.

Enter Marcello Gandini, 25, a brilliant Bertone stylist who fashioned a lean, low two-seater -- a young-man’s exotic -- that blew the lid off the ’66 Geneva show. It was designated P400: P for posteriore, or aft-mounted engine, and 400 in reference to the V-12’s displacement. Lamborghini, however, looked to his Taurus birth sign and to the ferocious fighting bulls of Don Eduardo Miura and christened the thing Miura (MYUR-ah).

A side-mounted engine allowed the Miura's cabin to be more spacious, though the sheer size of the engine made the interior a hot, noisy place.
A side-mounted engine allowed the Miura's cabin to be more spacious, though the sheer size of the engine made the interior a hot, noisy place.

This was no GT in the original Lamborghini mold, but a cramped, fatiguing, poor-shifting, hothouse of a 350-hp supercar. Yet its enthralling acceleration, race-worthy cornering, howling top speed, and of course its styling, overwhelmed everything. Many flaws, including the most serious -- nose lift at high speed -- diminished as the Lamborghini Miura evolved through the 370-hp P400S of 1969 to the 385-hp SV of 1971. That last was the best. It wisely retained the look of the original and, like every Lamborghini Miura, was legend made real.

To learn more about Lamborghini and other sports cars, see:


More to Explore